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Jury deliberations in Edwards trial to resume next week

Former U.S. Senator John Edwards, 58, walks to the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Davis Turner
Former U.S. Senator John Edwards, 58, walks to the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., May 7, 2012. REUTERS/Davis Turner

By Wade Rawlins

GREENSBORO, North Carolina (Reuters) - Jurors weighing whether former U.S. Senator John Edwards illegally used campaign funds to conceal an extramarital affair when he ran for president headed home on Friday and will resume deliberations next week.

A judge let the jury go for the weekend after 5-1/2 hours of discussions. Earlier Friday, jurors asked to review more than a dozen prosecution exhibits.

Among the evidence they requested were notes from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, a wealthy donor to Edwards' campaign, and testimony from her lawyer, Alex Forger.

The jury must decide if Edwards, 58, orchestrated a cover-up to keep voters from learning of his pregnant mistress during his 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The jury is to resume deliberations Monday morning.

Prosecutors said the plot resulted in more than $900,000 from two wealthy donors being secretly funneled to Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, and his aide Andrew Young, who during the campaign falsely admitted to paternity of the baby Edwards fathered.

The defense said Edwards, who maintains his innocence, did not seek or accept the money and that the payments were personal gifts meant to keep the affair and Hunter's pregnancy concealed from Edwards' cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth.

The former senator from North Carolina faces a total of six felony counts on charges including conspiring to solicit the money, receiving more than the $2,300 allowed from any one donor, and failing to report the payments as contributions.

Each count carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

(Reporting by Wade Rawlins; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Kevin Gray and Bill Trott) Follow us on Twitter: @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook

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