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Defense up next in Edwards case

May 11, 2012 at 2:05 PM   |   Comments

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GREENSBORO, N.C., May 11 (UPI) -- The judge in the North Carolina trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards rejected a request by defense attorneys to throw out the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles ruled Friday the case would continue and ordered the defense team to prepare witnesses for resumption of the Monday, ABC News reported.

Defense lawyers had argued charges against Edwards should be dropped because the government failed to "prove beyond a reasonable doubt ... that Edwards with knowledge ... violated campaign finance laws."

Edwards is accused of illegally using campaign funds to hide his affair with Rielle Hunter and the baby he fathered. He says any money used to hide them was a personal gift and he was trying to keep his affair from his wife, not the government.

Prosecutors ended their case Thursday by playing an ABC News interview from 2008 in which Edward lied about his affair with Hunter and denied using campaign donations to cover it up.

"I have never asked anybody to pay a dime of money. Never been told that any money has been paid. Nothing has been done at my request," Edwards told ABC News in 2008. "So if the allegation is that somehow I participated in the payment of money, that is a lie. An absolute lie."

Lawyers watching the trial say the video fixed some loose ends for the prosecution.

"It tied together a lot of circumstantial evidence. This case does not have the smoking gun. Juries like smoking guns. It has this tape, however," said Steve Friedland, professor at the Elon School of Law.

"It's likely, he'll never take the stand. This was the functional equivalent. And it hit all of the major areas from hiding the fact about [the] baby, from hiding what happened with the money trail ... and on and on and on," Friedland said.

Before the prosecution played the video, Leo Hindery, a campaign adviser testified he knew little of the alleged $1 million effort to cover up Edwards' affair with Hunter.

Other members of Edwards' presidential campaign, however, testified they and Edwards knew that campaign donations were being used to cover up the affair.

On Tuesday, Edwards' speechwriter Wendy Button said he told her "he had known all along that [donor and one-time campaign treasurer] Fred Baron had been taking care of things."

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