John Edwards Found Not Guilty On One Fraud Count; Mistrial Declared On Other Counts
John Edwards' campaign finance case ended in a mistrial. Jurors came back yesterday and acquitted the former senator and presidential candidate on one charge and said they were deadlocked on five others. WUNC's Jeff Tiberii has been covering the trial since it started more than a month ago, he joins us from our bureau in Greensboro.
What was it like in the courtroom when the jury's decision was announced?
Jeff Tiberii: The moment itself, when those words "not guilty" were said, John Edwards leaned back in his seat. I was sitting behind him. To my right was Cate holding hands with her grandfather Wallace. Wallace was holding the hand of his wife Bobbi. John Edwards' elderly mother just squeezed, mom squeezing father's hand very tightly in that moment. Then, a couple of minutes later after the judge declared a mistrial on the other counts, just hugs all around. Then the media, as John Edwards and Cate went off in another room for a few minutes, the media was standing around, really hovering over Bobbi and Wallace trying to get a quote out of them. John's father Wallace pointed to his mouth and said this says it all and he had a big smile on his face.
After the verdict, John Edwards addressed the media for the first time since the trial began. What was that like?
Jeff Tiberii: It felt pretty raw. It felt pretty honest and he moved through a series of points reiterating as he has before that he never knowingly committed any kind of felony. He talked about taking responsibility for the sins he committed, which was a theme for the defense, committing a sin but not committing a felony. He thanked his children, all of his children, including his son Wade who he lost and also Quinn, the daughter he fathered with his mistress Rielle Hunter, in what was the first public display of affection and love that we've seen from him for his daughter Quinn.
John Edwards: And then finally my precious Quinn, who I love more than any of you could ever imagine and who I am so close to and so, so grateful for.
Jeff Tiberii: At that point on a pretty hot May afternoon, sweating a little bit, he thanked his parents and also said he believes God has something more in store for him. Exactly what that is we obviously don't know yet.
So is this case really over?
Jeff Tiberii: I think so. I really do. One of the legal experts told me that this was a case that cost several million dollars to move from the investigation to the Grand Jury and the trial itself. From what we're hearing from federal officials to legal experts to former federal prosecutors, it's highly unlikely they will try this case again. It was very difficult in the first place. It would have been bery difficult to get a conviction. The prosecution couldn't do that and all signs are pointing to highly unlikely that John Edwards is tried again.
I imagine things will change for you and others who work in downtown Greensboro, the Edwards trial has literally occupied a full city block.
Jeff Tiberii: Kind of like a wave, Eric. You know when you ride a wave at the beach and all of a sudden it snaps back on you and the wave is gone? I think this morning will be the final push when the morning shows will do their morning updates and follow-ups. But, soon thereafter the road barricades and the 40 or 50 photographers who have been out there for the past month-and-a-half will disperse back to their corners of the country. For those of us who work here regularly in Greensboro, it's on to the next story.