Defense rests without calling Edwards, mistress

FILE - In this April 12, 2012, file photo, former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John Edwards arrives outside federal court following a lunch break in Greensboro, N.C., during jury selection in his criminal trial on alleged campaign finance violations. Defense lawyers for John Edwards will argue at his trial that much of the nearly $1 million in secret payments at issue in the criminal case against their client were actually siphoned off by a trusted aide to build an expansive dream home. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

May 16, 2012 3:34:10 PM PDT
John Edwards' defense team has rested their case without the former presidential candidate or his mistress taking the witness stand.

Edwards' defense team rested Wednesday morning.

Some court watchers had expected the former U.S. senator and trial lawyer to testify in his own defense. The move signals the defense believes it has already proven its case.

Putting Edwards on the stand would have exposed him to withering cross-examination about his past lies and personal failings.

Before wrapping up their case, Edwards' attorneys tried to shift the jury's focus away from the sex scandal.

After all the predictions of a blockbuster finale, the defense rested with a wimper; with no testimony from John Edwards himself, from his former mistress Rielle Hunter, or his daughter Cate.

Many thought she would tell a sympathetic story about her father simply wanting to hide an affair from her mother Elizabeth who was dying of cancer.

"I was a bit stunned," said former Federal Prosecutor Kieran Shanahan. "I think the courtroom was stunned when the defense announced it was going to rest its case."

Instead the defense spent its time attacking the substance of the charges

against Edwards, who is accused of knowingly using campaign money to hide the affair from voters while he ran for president.

"The defense did a good job of redirecting the jury's attention to the campaign finance laws, and that's what the case was about," Shanahan said.

Edwards' lawyers presented receipts showing his finance chairman Fred Baron put money directly into Hunter's bank account, proof they say, Edwards did not know it was happening.

The defense also undercut the government's key witness Andrew Young, showing he received $725,000 from another donor, Bunny Mellon, and used at least some of that alleged cover-up money to build his own dream house.

In the end, the defense spent only two and a half days calling witnesses after the prosecution spent three weeks going over emotional details that made Edwards look like a bad guy.

It will be up to the jury to decide if he is a criminal.

The six criminal counts against Edwards could bring up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if he's convicted of all charges.

Both sides are set to present closing arguments on Thursday.