John Edwards not guilty on one count, mistrial on five counts
A jury found one-time presidential candidate John Edwards not guilty on one count but couldn’t reach a verdict in the remaining five counts in a closely-watched trial centering on lurid accusations that he illegally used campaign money to pay his ex-mistress to keep quiet about the affair.
Jurors heard about 17 days of testimony, a lot of it focusing on the details of the sex scandal between the Democratic candidate, his mistress Rielle Hunter and his once-trusted aide Andrew Young, who initially claimed he was the father of his boss's baby.
Edwards thanked jurors and his family after a mistrial was declared and says he is responsible for his sins.
Edwards, speaking on the courthouse steps on Thursday, also choked up when speaking of his 4-year-old daughter whom he conceived with his mistress while running for president.
Edward also said he believes he did nothing illegal, but that he did an "awful, awful lot" that was wrong and that no one else was responsible for his sins but him.
The monthlong trial exposed a sordid sex scandal that dashed Edwards' White House aspirations in 2008, and the jury's decision came on a confusing day.
The judge initially called jurors in to read a verdict on all six counts, before learning that they had only agreed to one. About an hour later, the jury sent the note to the judge saying it had exhausted its discussions.
It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors would retry Edwards on the other counts.
Edwards did not react when the verdict and mistrial were announced, but he was happy and smiling earlier when the jury said it had reached a verdict on one count after nine days of deliberations.
The jury found Edwards not guilty one count of illegal campaign contributions involving $375,000 wealthy heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon gave in 2008.
Edwards was charged with six criminal counts including conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, accepting contributions that exceeded campaign finance limits, and causing his campaign to file a false financial disclosure report.
Jurors had to weigh whether to believe Edwards, who argued that he didn't knowingly break the law, or his aide, Andrew Young, who said Edwards recruited him to solicit secret donations in excess of the legal limit for campaign contributions, then $2,300.
Young, the prosecution's star witness, falsely claimed paternity of his boss's baby in December 2007, after tabloid reporters tracked a visibly pregnant Hunter to a doctor's appointment.
Edwards repeatedly denied having a relationship with Hunter, only to go on national television in August 2008 to admit having a brief affair with Hunter but that it was physically impossible he was the father of her baby girl.
In fact, his relationship with Hunter had lasted more than a year.
A recording of that interview was played for the jury last week as the prosecution rested its case.
The bulk of the alleged illegal campaign contributions flowed to Young, including $725,000 in checks from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, who is now 101 years old.
Young spent some of the money to care for Hunter, but financial records introduced at the trial showed the aide siphoned off most of the money to help build his family's $1.6 million dream home near Chapel Hill.
Another $400,000 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets rides and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif., were also provided by wealthy Texas lawyer Fred Baron to help cover up the affair.
Baron served as Edwards' campaign finance chairman. Prosecutors say Edwards knew about the money and directed the cover-up, showing the jury phone records indicating he was in constant contact with Hunter and Young while they were in hiding.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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