Local Politics

Edwards juror: Prosecution witness should have been charged

Posted June 7, 2012

John Edwards makes a brief statement outside the Greensboro federal courthouse on May 31, 2012, after a jury acquitted him on one camapign finance fraud charge and a mistrial was declared on five other charges against him
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— One of the jurors in John Edwards criminal trial said Thursday that he believes the government's star witness should have been the one at the defense table.

Otis Cooper said he believes that former Edwards aide Andrew Young orchestrated the scheme to obtain nearly $1 million from two political donors for his own use.

The government accused Edwards, a former U.S. senator and two-time presidential candidate, of using Young to get money from Virginia heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Texas trial lawyer Fred Baron to help keep his pregnant mistress quiet and to hide her from the media during his 2008 run for the White House.

Young, who was given immunity from prosecution for cooperating with investigators, spent almost five days on the witness stand, detailing the alleged schemes. But the defense punched holes in his story by pointing out inconsistencies in his testimony and noting that Young and his wife had spent most of the donors' money on their new home near Chapel Hill and other personal expenses.

"Andrew Young did not come off as a credible witness," said Cooper, a former Winston-Salem police officer and retired Durham fire chief. "I think, really, the prosecution might have had a better chance if Andrew had been marched in there in an orange jumpsuit and shackles. This guy had done a number of things that were illegal and seemed to be able to walk away from the entire thing."

An eight-man, four-woman jury deliberated for about 50 hours over nine days before acquitting Edwards a week ago of one charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles declared a mistrial on five other charges against Edwards when jurors said they were deadlocked and couldn't reach a verdict.

John Edwards juror Otis Cooper Juror: Government should drop Edwards case

Cooper said jury discussions did get intense, but in the end, defense witnesses who argued money used to cover up an affair is a personal gift and shouldn't be considered a campaign contribution swayed the majority of jurors.

"The money had really been scrutinized at several different levels before got to court. The (Federal Elections Commission) had looked at it, the IRS had looked at it, everyone who came across as a witness said it was a gift," he said. "So, who are we to say (it wasn't)? We have to take them as the experts that they are.

"Friends give friends gifts," he added.

Other jurors have said they believe Edwards was guilty, but there wasn't enough evidence to convict him.

"There were some things said and some things done that would indicate one way, but if you just nailed it down – what did these words really say, and who were they said to – they didn’t quite come up to muster," Cooper said. “I left my gut outside, left it outside and dealt strictly with the (evidence).

He said the government should not waste its time and money retrying Edwards on the five charges.

"The government has higher-priority things that need to be done with tax dollars than really to chase down one person," he said.

"The evidence is not going to get any better, and I doubt the jury is going to get any smarter," he added.

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  • awood2 Jun 8, 2012

    AMEN Mr. Cooper!! They are all guilty! They should all be charged

  • carolinarox Jun 8, 2012

    The GOP had a bone to pick with Edwards? Really? Who heads-up the US Justice Department that prosecuted this case? I believe it was Obama's folks who leaked the love child scandal to the press to begin with, then quickly distanced themselves from the idea of having him be any part of Barry's cabinet. Also, why would the GOP have a problem with the Breck Girl? GSwalker51

    Well it was Republican George Holding who was the original U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case, but he left to run for Congress. Also, there are homeless veterans living in the streets, underpasses and under the bridges of America.

  • TeenDad2electricboogaloo Jun 8, 2012

    The libs will vote for him...in a second. Morals mean nothing to them, nor does anything else, as long as they can advance their agenda.
    smbiz
    June 8, 2012 11:37 a.m.

    lol cool story bro

  • mojo nailing rb Jun 8, 2012

    Stay thirsty Johnny!

  • beaulahjackson4 Jun 8, 2012

    your words: I believe it was Obama's folks who leaked the love child scandal to the press to begin with - gswalker51

    Oct. 10, 2007: The National Enquirer reports that Edwards had an affair with a former campaign staffer. So how does that work when Obama didn't take office until January 2009? I hear more rhetoric about Obama than I have heard of any other President. The American people have spoken as far as electing Obama. Obama seems to be a catch-all for anything anyone opposing him wants to blame him for. Grow up, he was elected fair and square....he didn't even have to fight in a court of law to get HIS presidency. Edwards behavior is deplorable but blame him, blame Young. Throw your vote away in November if you want to but at least have common courtesy to respect your fellow Americans, we did elect him...live with it and quick whining about Obama when anything goes a rye.

  • ICTrue Jun 8, 2012

    "Edwards has the moral terpitude of a snake. I sure he still thinks he can be elected to something! "

    The libs will vote for him...in a second. Morals mean nothing to them, nor does anything else, as long as they can advance their agenda.

  • ICTrue Jun 8, 2012

    "The evidence is not going to get any better, and I doubt the jury is going to get any smarter," he added"

    The jury is going to be any smarter? Why not? It certainly wouldn't be much of a leap considering that the bar has been set on the ground.

  • BigBangTheorist Jun 8, 2012

    I willl never understand why two key witnesses, Bunny and Fred were not called to the stand. Question: "Bunny, were you asked to donate money to John Edwards campaign, or were you asked to give Young a gift?" That answer could have changed the verdict, or confirmed it.
    IndependentAmerican
    June 8, 2012 9:06 a.m.
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    That's easy, they couldn't call Fred B to the stand because hwe is dead. And Ms. Mellon is almost there, she's over 100.

  • computer trainer Jun 8, 2012

    David Parker (head of the NCDEMS) and John Edwards were on hand to hobnob with Joe Biden in Winston Salem this week. Yeah, I think that John Edwards will run for office again. What is to stop him?

  • gswalker51 Jun 8, 2012

    The GOP had a bone to pick with Edwards? Really? Who heads-up the US Justice Department that prosecuted this case? I believe it was Obama's folks who leaked the love child scandal to the press to begin with, then quickly distanced themselves from the idea of having him be any part of Barry's cabinet. Also, why would the GOP have a problem with the Breck Girl? He's one of the best things that ever happened to Republicans...after buying his Senate seat in 1998, the only threat he ever posed politically was to his fellow Democrats. Ran with Kerry in 2004, embarrassed himself with claims of veterans living under overpasses and George Bush's "policy" on stem cells basically murdering Christopher Reeve, then he finished a distant 3rd in the SC primary during the 2008 campaign before dropping-out. Where's the threat?

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