NEW YORK - Three jurors in the federal corruption trial of former Senator John Edwards said Friday that they believed Edwards was guilty of at least one of the campaign-finance charges against him but that the government had failed to prove its case.
“I think he definitely had some knowledge of where the money was going, especially the money from Mrs. Mellon,’’ said one of the jurors, Ladonna Foster, in an interview on NBC’s “Today’’ program. She was speaking of the heiress Rachel Mellon, who gave more than $750,000 to help Edwards.
Foster and her fellow jurors Cindy Aquaro and David Recchion, the foreman, also said that the credibility of the government’s star witness, Andrew Young, a former aide to Edwards, had been a major concern for the jurors, who deliberated for nine days.
Edwards was acquitted on one of the six charges, which was based on a $200,000 check that Mellon had written him. But the jury remained deadlocked on the five other counts, and a mistrial was declared.
Edwards, 58, was charged with using almost $1 million in campaign funds - his lawyers contended they were personal gifts from friends - to hide a mistress and the child of that relationship while he sought the 2008 presidential nomination.
‘I think he was guilty, but the evidence just was not there.’Juror Cindy Aquaro
On ABC’s “Good Morning America,’’ three other jurors said that they did not think there was enough evidence to convict Edwards.
Jonathan Nunn said that he voted “not guilty’’ on all six counts, explaining that he viewed the money as a personal gift, not a campaign contribution to Edwards. He said a small group of jurors had thought otherwise, which is what extended the deliberations.
Two other jurors, Theresa Fuller and Sheila Lockwood, told George Stephanopoulos, the anchor and interviewer, that they did not think there was enough evidence presented to find Edwards guilty.
“I felt like the evidence just wasn’t there,’’ said Fuller, who added she did not think the government should have brought the case at all. “It could have been more. It could have been a lot more than what it was.’’
Lockwood said, “I just felt that he didn’t receive any of the money, so you can’t really charge him for money that he got.’’
The weakest part of the case, the jurors said, was the testimony of Young, who, with his wife, used large sums of money from Mellon and another donor to hide Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, from the media and from his former wife, Elizabeth, who died of cancer in 2010.
On “Today,’’ Recchion, the foreman, said the jurors had made a serious effort to reach consensus when they were asked to resume deliberations on Thursday, but they could not.
When asked why it was so difficult to reach a guilty verdict when they believed he was guilty of some of the charges, Aquaro said Edwards was smart enough to hide the evidence. “I think he was guilty, but the evidence just was not there for us to prove guilt,’’ she said.