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article imageMistrial declared in John Edwards case

By Layne Weiss     May 31, 2012 in Crime
John Edwards' campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial Thursday, The Huffington Post reports. Jurors acquitted him of 1 of 6 charges, but could not reach a consensus on whether he misused money from 2 wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress.
The Huffington Post reports that the trial exposed a sex scandal in which Edwards was involved while his wife Elizabeth was dying of cancer. Elizabeth lost her battle with cancer in December, 2010.
Prosecutors tried, but failed to convince jurors that the former Senator and 2004 vice-presidential candidate used campaign funds to mastermind a cover-up of his affair.
According to BBC News, Edwards, 58, denied using donor funds to hide his mistress's pregnancy during his 2008 presidential campaign.
On Thursday, jurors acquitted Edwards on the charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions including $375,000 from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008, The Huffington Post reports. He had also been charged with accepting $350,000 from Mellon in 2007, as well as money from Texas attorney Fred Baron. Edwards was also charged with filing a false campaign report and conspiracy.
According to BBC News, the verdict brought much confusion. Presiding judge Catherine Eagles was initially under the impression that the jury had reached a decision on all 6 counts and was surprised to learn they had only decided on one.
She sent the jury back to deliberate further, but after an hour, they came back saying they had exhausted all discussions, and could still not reach a decision.
Edwards said outside the court Thursday that he doesn't believe he did anything illegal, but that he done an "awful, awful lot that was wrong." He continued that no one other than him "is responsible" for his sins, The Huffington Post reports.
Edwards described his 4 year old daughter with his mistress, Rielle Hunter, as "precious," BBC News reports. At one point, Edwards denied the child was even his. His aide Andrew Young claimed paternity to help his boss, but then turned out to be a key witness for the prosecution in a deal to save himself from being prosecuted.
If convicted, Edwards could have faced up to 30 years in jail, and a fine of $1.5 million.
According to the LA Times, the US Justice Department must now decide on a retrial, but several legal experts believe a retrial is unlikely.
"We knew that this was a strange case, and it resulted in a strange trial with a strange ending," said Washington attorney Elliot S. Berke, according to the LA Times. Berke represents elected officials on campaign finance issues.
Berke said the jurors inability to reach a decision on 5 of the 6 counts brought against Edwards was a huge reflection of "society's confusion about campaign finance law and where the lines are."
Berke noted that this was a very difficult case, and he believes that the prosecutors will have to think carefully about whether or not a mistrial is worth pursuing.
New York campaign finance lawyer Jerry H. Goldfeder said the prosecution proved Edwards was a "scoundrel," but that it was nearly impossible to prove he broke the campaign finance law. He said they would have the same difficulties in a retrial of the case.
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