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Former North Carolina Senator and former presidential candidate, John Edwards, was facing up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine when he was found not guilty on one of six charges he was facing Thursday. The judge declared mistrial on the remaining charges.
After nine days of deliberation the jury finally came to a decision for the fate of John Edwards, finding him not guilty on the charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions from a wealthy donor to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter. The rest of the charges the jurors were at a deadlock. Their inability to make a unanimous decision caused Judge Catherine Eagles to call a mistrial.
“There were times it got very frustrating, the emotions got high. We’d have to take a minute, step back, and just everyone calm down,” said Cindy Aquaro, one of the jurors on the case, on NBC’s The Today Show.
When Matt Lauer asked the three jurors on The Today Show to raise their hand if they thought “John Edwards was guilty on at least some of the counts against him”, all three raised their hands. When Lauer asked them to raise their hands if they though “John Edwards is a bad guy,” none of them raised their hands.
“We all came in with our own preconceived notions but once the evidence was laid out we had to separate that,” juror Ladonna Foster told Lauer.
“I think he was guilty, but like we said, the evidence just was not there for us to prove guilt,” juror Cindy Aquaro continued to tell Lauer.
The other charges against him involved donations in 2007 and 2008 from wealthy donors, Rachel Mellon and Fred Baron, a conspiracy charge and charge for knowingly making false statements.
“It’s not surprising that they are splitting on the verdict, because the case is about splitting hairs on whether the money was being used to fool a wife or to fool the election committee,” said Roy Futterman, a jury consultant.
Following the verdict, Edwards stood on the courthouse stairs with his parents and his oldest daughter, Cate, thanking the jurors for “their diligence” and his family for sticking with him through the trial.
“While I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing something illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that is wrong, and there is no one else responsible for my sins.” Edwards said.
Image Courtesy of John Edwards 2008