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Edwards' criminal trial set for October

Posted July 14, 2011 5:30 a.m. EDT
Updated July 14, 2011 6:36 p.m. EDT

— A federal judge on Thursday set an October trial date for former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on campaign finance charges.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Tilley put the status of the trial in prosecutors' hands, saying the the trial could be pushed back if they are slow to turn evidence in the case over to Edwards' attorneys.

Defense lawyers had sought a January trial date.

A grand jury last month indicted Edwards on six felony charges related to money that was used to cover up his affair and child with Rielle Hunter, a videographer who chronicled his 2008 presidential campaign.

Federal prosecutors say Edwards accepted $900,000 in contributions from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Texas banker Fred Barron – far above the legal limit – and filed filing false campaign finance reports to hide the donations.

Edwards has maintained that the contributions were gifts and didn't need to be reported. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Edwards attended Thursday's court hearing, as did lawyers for Hunter.

Tilley said he was surprised at the slow movement of the case and that it was time to push it forward.

Prosecutors have over 300,000 pages of evidence in the case, including financial documents and emails. The defense still hasn't received 20,000 documents, and prosecutors said the civil suit between Hunter and former Edwards aide Andrew Young has complicated the release of some records.

Hunter sued Young last year to regain possession of some photos and videos, including a purported sex tape showing her with Edwards. She said Young stole the materials, while he claims that she abandoned them after moving from a rented house in Chatham County.

A judge filed an order in that case restricting who could see certain records involved in the dispute.

Edwards' lawyers also noted during the hearing that they're having some technical difficulties with some of the files that have been turned over.