Jury Deliberates For Eighth Day In Edwards Trial

The jury in the John Edwards trial deliberated for an eighth day on Wednesday. The panel has asked for little guidance as it debates the fate of the two-time former presidential candidate. Edwards is accused of soliciting almost a million dollars from a pair of wealthy donors to cover up his pregnant mistress. Jeff Tiberii of North Carolina Public Radio talks to host Melissa Block from the Federal Courthouse in Greensboro.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. We do not have a verdict to report in the trial of John Edwards. Not yet. The jury in Greensboro, North Carolina, has finished its eighth day of deliberations.

Edwards is accused of violating campaign finance law by soliciting almost a million dollars from two donors in an effort to hide his pregnant mistress. Earlier today, I talked with North Carolina Public Radio's Jeff Tiberii as he stood outside the federal courthouse. He said the jurors appear to be diligently going through the evidence.

JEFF TIBERII, BYLINE: They asked for about 20 pieces of evidence that, as we could discern, related to the Bunny money. That's Rachel Bunny Mellon, the 101-year-old donor who provided more than $700,000 to a former Edwards aide, so the jury wanted to look at some of that material and they asked for about 20 additional pieces of evidence.

At that point, Judge Catherine Eagles actually offered to send all of the exhibits back and the juror that has been speaking on behalf of the group nodded his head, as did about half a dozen others and said, sounds like a great idea.

BLOCK: So, Jeff, a waiting game as they continue their deliberations. What's the scene like there at the courthouse?

TIBERII: There are probably two or three dozen photographers outside each day waiting for hours at a time for their next shot and it is, at times, almost eerie. There have been several times that John Edwards will walk out and the reporters, they've really given up trying to ask him questions weeks ago because he hasn't said anything, and he'll make this walk of maybe 30 or 40 feet from the federal courthouse into the vehicle that's transporting him that day and you won't hear anything except for the clicks of a camera.

BLOCK: And I gather there was a bit of a tease from the judge yesterday.

TIBERII: There was. The judge came back in about 4:15 and said, the jury has sent me a note that they reached a - long, pregnant pause - good stopping point for the day. And there was this collective exhale from the room, also some laughter, and just a moment later, she looked over at the defense table where the lead attorney for John Edwards had buried his head in his hands and the judge looked at him and said, I'm mean. I'm sorry - kind of sheepishly.

BLOCK: And, Jeff, in the absence of any real news to report as the jury deliberates, there's been a lot of reporting about the four alternate jurors and their clothing. They have been coordinating the colors of their clothes.

TIBERII: Today's color was purple, Melissa, so we've now had red and pink. We had some yellow or canary yellow, if you will, and today it was purple, varying shades from the alternates. It appears as though the four alternates who are still coming in are having a bit of fun. Why they're wearing the same color, we don't know.

One interesting note about the alternates is that, despite not being part of deliberations, they do have lunch each day with the 12 jurors. And, of course, the judge instructs them not to talk about the case, but you know, one would just wonder about human nature and you wonder if it casually comes up at all during lunch hour.

BLOCK: Jeff, what can you tell us, based on the questionnaires that the jurors filled out, who are they? What do we know about them?

TIBERII: The jury, this group of eight men and four women, seems to have a little bit of diversity in its professions. We know that there is a pharmacist and a former VP of a company. There's a special ed teacher, a couple of mechanics and machine operators. We don't know their names and that's actually something that the media - about 10 different media organizations filed a motion requesting the names of the jurors, but at this point, the judge has not ruled on that.

BLOCK: OK. Jeff Tiberii, thanks so much.

TIBERII: Thanks, Melissa.

BLOCK: Jeff Tiberii with North Carolina Public Radio. He joined us from outside the Greensboro courthouse where jurors have completed an eighth day of deliberations in the John Edwards trial. And some news from the judge this afternoon. She says those alternate jurors we were talking about no longer have to come to court. She told them she'll regret not knowing the color for tomorrow.

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