Posted May 31, 2012 08:00 pm CDT
Updated: After nine days of deliberation in a political corruption case against former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, a federal jury in North Carolina found him not guilty on one campaign fraud charge and deadlocked on the other five counts.
The onetime Democratic presidential candidate, who had been accused of accepting illegal donations from third parties to try to hide his pregnant mistress from voters during his 2008 campaign, fell back in his chair, closed his eyes and, for a moment, looked as if he might cry after the verdict was announced, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).
Standing in front of the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., afterward, Edwards said he was at fault even though he did nothing illegal.”I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong, and there is no one else responsible for my sins,” he said, as his parents and adult daughter, Cate, stood by him, reports Reuters.
“I am responsible, and if I want to find the person who should be held accountable for my sins, honestly I don’t have to go any further than the mirror,” he continued. “It’s me. It is me and me alone.”
Several experts told the Los Angeles Times that they doubted the Department of Justice would opt to retry Edwards on what seems to many, apparently including members of the jury, a dubious legal theory.
“The prosecution may have proven that John Edwards was a scoundrel. It was near impossible for them to prove that he broke the campaign finance law,” said New York attorney Jerry H. Goldfeder, who specializes in election law. “It would be very surprising if the government went back to the well to try him again. I think this prosecution is over. It failed and it is over.”
Earlier Thursday, there was confusion about whether the jury had reached a verdict, as word spread that indeed it had done so.
But that verdict applied to only one count of the six Edwards faced, observers learned once everyone had assembled in the courtroom for the false alarm. Attorneys for Edwards asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles to accept the jury’s verdict on count three and dismiss the five charges on which the panel is deadlocked, ABC News reports.
However, the judge initially declined to do so and told the jury to try again. The verdict reached on count three wasn’t known at that time. Later in the day, Eagles apparently changed her mind.
“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,” Roy Futterman of DOAR Litigation Consulting told Bloomberg before the verdict was announced. “It’s hard to judge intent. Jurors may decide either way depending on how they see Edwards as a man.”
CBS News also has a story.
Last updated at 10 p.m. to include information from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Reuters.