Senator Edwards on the price of a haircut," Mellon's note states. "But it
inspired me -- from now on, all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and
important for his campaign -- please send the bills to me. ... It is a way to
help our friend without government restrictions."
That, Harbach contended, showed motive for Mellon, a philanthropist who had already given the maximum campaign contributions for that year in addition to providing about $6 million to issue-oriented organizations tied to Edwards.
But Mellon, just three months shy of her 102nd birthday, was not called as a witness, and others who testified about her motives stated she had a "bit of a crush" on Edwards and thought of him as a friend first and a man she would have supported in any of his endeavors.
Harbach said the statements of former speechwriter Wendy Button, staffer John Davis and Jennifer Palmieri, a former spokeswoman and friend of Elizabeth Edwards, bolstered their contentions that Edwards knew Baron had provided flights, hotel rooms and money to hide Hunter.
Button testified that Edwards told her in the summer of 2009 that he "knew all along" that Baron was helping. Button conceded under cross-examination that Edwards did not state precisely what he meant by that during that emotional telephone call.
Davis testified he was on a private plane with Edwards and Baron, close enough for their knees to touch, when he heard the Texas billionaire boast "the media was never going to be able to find Rielle because he was keeping her moving." Davis said he told Baron, who had a reputation as being a bit of a gossip, to stop talking about it.
But Lowell has contended that Baron, a trial lawyer of much renown, knew what constituted illegal contributions and was careful to direct money to the proper accounts either for the candidate's campaign or the issue-related organizations linked to Edwards.
Teasing truth out of lies
Prosecutors and defense attorneys plan to use the complicated testimony of Young to support their contentions.
Prosecutors want jurors to believe that the 46-year-old Young -- who falsely claimed paternity, a former aide described by staffers as "sketchy" and not an integral part of the 2008 campaign -- has offered a story line that matches with other evidence.
Defense attorneys contend that Young, if taken at his word, testified that Edwards told him on at least two occasions that he had checked with campaign lawyers and what they were doing was legal, speaking to whether there was criminal intent.
But Harbach stated Edwards had lied before, and he used the 2008 ABC interview as evidence that could lead a reasonable juror to believe the defendant had lied again when making such a statement to Young.
Eagles, a former Guilford County Superior Court judge who was appointed to the federal bench by Obama in 2010, told the lawyers on Friday she had heard sufficient evidence over the weeks of testimony to put the case to a jury when the time comes.
Eagles, a 53-year-old Tennessee native, has presided over the trial in folksy style, her long, wavy hair pulled up in a loose bun atop her head, large hoop earrings dangling, and glasses that she slips down her nose when something is either perplexing or troubling her.
"You're squinting at me," Lowell told Eagles on Friday after trying to persuade her to throw out the case and acquit Edwards.
"That just means I'm thinking," she said with the same pluck and spunk evident when she tells the lawyers to slow their speech or move on with a point.
On Monday, the jury will be back, and the defense team is expected to bring in a former Federal Election Commission chairman who stated shortly after Edwards was indicted that he thought the prosecution's theory in this case was "far reaching." Edwards' lawyers have said that the case should have been a matter for the FEC to consider, not the courts.
Prosecutors, who called only one witness to speak specifically about campaign finance reports, have objected to the defense's efforts to classify Thomas as an expert witness, who then would be able to offer his opinion to the jury.
That could be the next prickly ruling for the judge, deciding whether there has been enough testimony in the prosecution's case about campaign finance law to allow an expert witness to offer his thoughts on the case.
Will we hear Edwards?
Legal analysts familiar with the trial have offered a mix of views on whether Edwards should and would take the stand. The jury, a collegial group that offers hearty greetings to the judge each morning, has heard him in his own words from four years ago in the videotaped TV interview and voicemail messages saved by Young.
Taking the stand would open him to cross-examination by prosecutors who have described him as so overly ambitious and selfish that he would stop at nothing to achieve his goals. But it also would provide the successful trial lawyer an opportunity to expose the jury to the man he is today. Greensboro lawyer Allison Van Laningham, the only woman on his defense team, contended in her opening statement that Edwards had "committed many sins, but no crime."
Once all has been said and done, and a jury has decided the fate of the former U.S. senator and presidential candidate, the verdict is not likely to be the last word on the Edwards case.
Throughout the trial, there has been much testimony about book, movie and play deals.
Young testified that there had been talks about adapting "The Politician" for film or theater.
Button, a writer and prolific note taker, has written a book that builds on her experience trying to help Edwards craft a statement to acknowledge paternity of the daughter born to him and Hunter.
There could be others, too.
It remains to be seen what the next chapter is in the story of John Edwards, a man who grew up in a Moore County mill town, became a legal star in Raleigh, made a big splash on the national political stage, then got sucked into the churning waters of a scandal that has him fighting for his freedom.
No matter the verdict or any celebratory smiles afterward, the trial has made clear that for Edwards and others involved there can be no real winning here after so much has been lost.
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