Jurors from the John Edwards trial, speaking Friday on network morning shows, said prosecutors did not bring enough proof to persuade the majority of the jury that the former Democratic presidential candidate broke campaign finance laws.
After leaving the federal courthouse in downtown Greensboro on Thursday afternoon, unwilling at the time to elaborate on deliberations, two groups of jurors appeared on ABCs Good Morning America and NBCs Today.
Jury foreman David Recchion and jurors Ladonna Foster and Cindy Aquaro raised their hands in unison when NBCs Matt Lauer asked whether anyone thought Edwards was guilty. But they said they could not convict him based on the evidence presented during the four weeks of testimony.
Foster said she followed instructions given by defense attorney Allison Van Laningham in her opening statement: Follow the money.
That trail, Foster said, did not lead to a conclusive guilty conviction on any of the six counts.
The jury found Edwards not guilty on one count related to a $200,000 check written by Listerine heiress Rachel Bunny Mellon in January 2008. It was not deposited in the account of Andrew and Cheri Young, the former political aide and his wife, until many weeks later.
By then, Edwards had suspended his campaign as a 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful, and Rielle Hunter, the former campaign videographer with whom he had an extramarital affair, had given birth to Frances Quinn, the daughter Edwards described on Thursday as his precious Quinn.
A key question for the jury was whether Edwards knew about $900,000 provided by Mellon and wealthy Texas lawyer Fred Baron.
Edwards had some knowledge, Foster said. I think he definitely had some knowledge of the money, where the money was going, especially the money from Mrs. Mellon.
But Aquaro added that she thought Edwards was just smart enough to hide it, and we could not find the evidence.
Emotions got high
Recchion, the foreman, described some of the deliberations as tense and heated. There were times it got very frustrating, Recchion said. The emotions got high. Wed have to take a minute, step back, and just everyone calm down.
The jurors acknowledged that prosecutors had major problems with their key witness, Andrew Young, who wrote an unflattering tell-all account of the 2008 campaign. Young also falsely claimed paternity of Edwards now-4-year-old daughter.
I think, unfortunately, that was probably the key part of the miss for the prosecution, Recchion said. Both sets of attorneys there were cases that could be built in either way. But when it came down to it, it was a matter of filling in the gaps.
Jonathan Nunn, who spoke to Good Morning America and said he supported acquittal on all six counts, also acknowledged tense times in the jury room. But he added that all tried to stay level-headed.
Everybodys got their own beliefs based off what they saw, and they stood their ground, Nunn said. They stood by their decision, and I respect that.
Didnt get the money
Sheila Lockwood, on ABC, said the fact that Edwards did not directly get any of the money weighed heavy with her.
He didnt even get the money, so I just didnt think he was guilty, Lockwood said.
Theresa Fuller, on Good Morning America, also said the evidence wasnt there.
It could have been more, Fuller said. It could have been a lot more than it was.