Where the trial stands after three weeks

FROM STAFF REPORTSMay 13, 2012 

Defense team lawyers begin their evidence Monday, telling the judge their side of the case might take a week. The lawyers did not tip their hand on whether John Edwards would take the stand in his defense.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday. Key witnesses included:

Andrew Young, 46, the former political aide who laid out the entire scheme that prosecutors contend was a violation of campaign finance laws.

The defense argued that Young was a dishonest, plotting, spurned sycophant who kept almost $700,000 of the money from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and benefitted from an additional $300,000 that Fred Baron wired to the builder of the former aide’s $1.5 million, 6,000-square-foot house and property in Orange County.

John Davis, 35, a "body man" for Edwards in 2007 and 2008 who made sure the presidential candidate got to meetings and had what he needed on the campaign trail, testified that he was next to Edwards and Baron on a private plane when the wealthy Texas lawyer boasted "the media would never find Rielle because he was keeping her moving."

But Davis cut Baron off before he said much else.

The defense contends that Edwards was trying to hide his pregnant mistress from his wife, who had become increasingly suspicious that an affair he told her had ended was ongoing.

Wendy Button, 43, a former speechwriter for Edwards, testified that he told her in an emotional 2009 phone call that "he had known all along that Fred had been taking care of things. But he didn’t know the details.”

The defense asked her in cross-examination whether Edwards stated specifically the time frame in which Baron had been providing support to Hunter, whether perhaps it began after the birth of Edwards’ out-of-wedlock daughter. Button said she assumed Edwards meant throughout the months in hiding, but she conceded he had not been specific.

Jennifer Palmieri, the former spokeswoman and friend of Elizabeth Edwards, who recalled a contentious meeting in an Iowa hotel room in 2007 that included both Edwardses and Fred Baron and his wife, Lisa Blue. Elizabeth Edwards was angry after finding out that Baron and Blue had taken Hunter on a shopping trip in California long after she thought the affair was over.

John Edwards, though in the room, was not engaged in the conversation but acting almost as "a spectator," Palmieri said.

Blue tried to calm Elizabeth Edwards by saying, "you keep your friends close and your enemies even closer."

Though the conversation shows Edwards knew his friend was providing support to Hunter, the defense can argue that conversation did not include any mention of trying to evade campaign finance regulations, but showed he continued to keep the affair from his wife.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service