June 1, 2012— -- In nine long days of deliberations, tension occasionally escalated in a North Carolina jury room as eight men and four women debated the guilt of John Edwards, who was on trial for allegedly using money from wealthy donors to cover up an affair and love child.
Together they acquitted Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate, of one count but found themselves hopelessly deadlocked on the other five campaign-finance charges.
Jurors talked publicly for the first time today on "Good Morning America" about the sometimes heated exchanges inside the jury room, as the days ticked by and the pressure mounted for 12 strangers to come to a unanimous consensus about the legal culpability of a man whose moral failings were on full display.
"Everybody's got their own beliefs based off what they saw and they stood their ground, they stood by their decision and I respect that," said juror Jonathan Nunn, a maintenance technician who voted "not guilty" on all six counts.
The panel could agree only on Count 3 of the indictment, which dealt specifically with checks written by wealthy heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008.
On every other count, the jury fought it out, the majority unable to sway a steadfast minority convinced of Edwards' guilt.
"Twelve people, trying to get them all to see eye to eye on the same level, that's going to be hard in any aspect," Nunn told "GMA."
Nunn said "there were a couple of times" where tension and tempers rose in the jury room, but the panel "tried to keep level-headed," knowing it was their duty to try and form a consensus.
Many of the jurors believed the government had not presented a strong enough case linking Edwards to the money his backers shelled out to support mistress Rielle Hunter and his love child, Frances Quinn.
"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," said Sheila Lockwood, a hospital telephone operator who voted to acquit on all charges.
"There wasn't enough [evidence] there," Lockwood said, adding that she did not believe the case should have ever come to a courtroom in Greensboro, N.C.
The jurors with whom ABC News spoke believed the prosecution had not made its case, but said there was a small group of holdouts convinced of Edwards' guilt.
"I felt like the evidence just wasn't there," said juror Theresa Fuller, a heat press operator. "It could have been more. It could have been a lot more than what it was."
Jurors told Federal Judge Catherine Eagles Thursday they were finished deliberating all six counts. The judge and other parties assumed that meant the panel had reached a verdict, but the courtroom was briefly thrown into confusion when it was revealed they had a verdict on just one count.
Eagles read the panel an Allen Charge, insisting they go back to work to try to reach a consensus. Less than an hour later, the jury came back and admitted they were deadlocked.
The judge declared a mistrial on the five outstanding charges, but Justice Department sources told ABC News Thursday a new trial was unlikely.
Edwards and his defense team were seen celebrating at a bar after the verdict had been read.
Immediately after the verdict, Edwards made a statement on the courthouse steps, speaking publically for the first time since the trial began.
"I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong," Edwards confessed. He said he had sinned by conducting an affair while his wife Elizabeth died of cancer and lied about it, but maintained he did nothing wrong criminally.
In the final days of deliberations, with little news coming from the jury room, media attention focused on four alternate jurors who began wearing color-coded outfits and one who appeared to be flirtatious with Edwards."We sat in a room for eight hours," alternate Leah Peterson said. "We learned about everybody. We talked about wardrobe and it ended up we started wearing the same colors."
The four alternates wore matching yellow, green, black and purple outfits over four consecutive days.
Another alternate, Denise Speight, was spotted smiling at Edwards and the former was seen smiling back.Speight, however, denied there was any such flirtation.
"I thought it was just the most funny thing I've ever heard," she said. "Actually, I was giggling over, I think, the media reaction when we walked into the courtroom over our outfits and color. I had no intention of flirting with John Edwards and I don't think he had any intentions of blushing or flirting back with me."