John Edwards case mistrial declared
- 1 June 2012
- From the section World
The judge in the campaign finance trial of former US presidential candidate John Edwards has declared a mistrial amid jury deadlock on most charges.
The panel in North Carolina found him not guilty on one of six charges of misuse of campaign funds, but could not agree on the other five.
It is not clear if prosecutors will retry Mr Edwards on the other counts.
Mr Edwards, 58, denied using donor funds to hide his mistress's pregnancy during his 2008 run for the presidency.
While the cover-up of the affair was going on, Mr Edwards's wife was fighting breast cancer.
Speaking outside the court, Mr Edwards said he had not done anything illegal but had done an "awful, awful lot that was wrong".
"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 a mirror. It's me. It is me and me alone," he said.
He described his four-year-old daughter with his mistress as "precious".
The former North Carolina senator could have faced up to 30 years in jail and $1.5m (£945,000) in fines if convicted of all charges.
To prove him guilty, prosecutors needed to show he knew about the money used in the cover-up, and also that he knew he was violating the law.
The 12-member jury in Greensboro - which had been deliberating for about nine days - reached its not guilty verdict on count three, which related to illegal campaign funds from a wealthy donor, heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.
Mrs Mellon wrote cheques totalling $725,000 to her interior decorator, who then sent the cheques to the wife of Edwards aide Andrew Young to co-sign using her maiden name.
Mr Edwards had denied knowledge of the money, which paid for private jets, hotels and medical care for mistress Rielle Hunter, a videographer.
The jury's decision followed a confusing day in court.
The judge initially called in the jury to read a verdict on all six counts, before learning that they had only agreed to one.
"I was obviously under the impression you had reached a verdict on all six counts," Judge Catherine Eagles said.
She apologised to the jury and sent them back to continue weighing the charges. But about an hour later, the jury sent a note to the judge saying it had exhausted its discussions.
Journalists scrambled to and from the courtroom amid the confusion.
Two years ago, Mr Edwards admitted fathering a child with Ms Hunter in 2007.
Mr Young had claimed paternity of the child to help his boss.
But during the trial Mr Young testified as a leading witness against Mr Edwards in a deal to shield himself from prosecution.
Mr Edwards's wife, Elizabeth, died in December 2010, having separated from her husband after he acknowledged paternity of Ms Hunter's child.