The jurors in the John Edwards trial spoke this morning for the first time about their 9 days of deliberations that resulted in a not guilty verdict on only one count and a mistrial on the remaining counts.
One of the jurors, Theresa Fuller, told me she didn’t even think the case should have come to trial at all. “I felt like the evidence just wasn’t there. It could have been more. It could have been a lot more than what it was.”
Despite the inability to reach a unanimous decision on most of the counts, the five jurors that I spoke with this morning on Good Morning America, including two alternates, were in good spirits about their experience in the highly dramatic case.
Jonathan Nunn, a juror and a maintenance specialist at the University of North Carolina, explained why he was unconvinced of John Edwards guilt in taking illegal campaign contributions in order to hide his pregnant girlfriend.
“In my opinion, it was personal gifts,” Nunn said.
Another juror Sheila Lockwood, a telephone operator in a hospital, said she felt that because the money didn’t go to Edwards directly, she could not find him guilty. “I just felt that he didn’t receive any of the money so you can’t really charge him for money that he got. He didn’t even get the money so I just didn’t think he was guilty.”
The 12 jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict and some stood their ground in opposition to Nunn and Lockwood, and Nunn says it occasionally grew tense in the jury room.
“There was a couple of times that it did but at the end of the day we were all just one big happy family and that’s the way we tried to keep it. We tried to keep level-headed. So at the end of the day everybody got along,” he said.
Juror Sheila Lockwood said she just did not hear enough evidence to justify a guilty verdict. “I would have liked to have heard more about the money that he did receive on his behalf, as far as him not informing the FEC (Federal Election Commission). More about his intent, that would have done it for me.”
One of the strangest developments through the case were reports that one of the alternate jurors seemed to be flirting with Edwards. Denise Speight, that juror, dismissed such assumptions with a laugh.
“I thought it was just the most funny thing I’ve ever heard. Actually I was giggling over, I think, the media reaction when we walked into the courtroom over our outfits and color. No intention of flirting with John Edwards and I don’t think he had any intentions of blushing or flirting back with me,” Speight, a pharmacist and mother, said.
It was not all serious business throughout the trial that could have sent the former presidential candidate to jail. To break up their boredom, the alternate jurors explained why they wore color coordinated outfits – a move that had the press speculating whether the alternates were sending a quiet protest or a secret message.
Not at all, explained Leah Peterson, one of the alternates.
“Really we sat in a room for eight hours. We learned about everybody. We talked about wardrobe and it ended up we started wearing the same colors.”