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John Edwards trial: Highlights (and lowlights) from the first week

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
The Ticket

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Edwards outside of federal court in Greensboro, N.C., April 23, 2012. (Gerry Broome/AP)

The John Edwards criminal conspiracy trial continues Friday in Greensboro, N.C., with Cheri Young, the wife of former Edwards aide Andrew Young, expected to take the witness stand.

Young, the prosecution's star witness, dominated the first week of testimony, describing in elaborate detail how he was instructed to hide Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer, during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Below are some highlights from four days of Young's testimony:

• On Tuesday, Young told the court that Edwards instructed him to approach Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon, "and ask for a non-campaign expense, something that would benefit him."

Young said he used the money from Mellon to rent Hunter a house for $2,700 a month and bought her a BMW at Edwards' direction.

"This was going to be a long-term problem," Young said. "And Miss Hunter had good taste."

• He detailed how Mellon's donations were funneled to Edwards. Via ABC News: "Mellon made the personal checks out to her interior decorator, who would co-sign checks with Young's wife in the wife's maiden name, he said. Young said his wife would then deposit the checks into their own account. The first two checks from Mellon were $10,000 and $25,000 in the summer of 2007, he said."

• Young also testified about Edwards' reaction to the news that Hunter was pregnant. "He said she was a crazy slut and there was a one-in-three chance it was his child," Young said, according to Politico.

• On Wednesday, Young testified that he and Edwards "came close to throwing punches" at a tense meeting about Edwards' mistress in June 2008. The former aide said that he also complained to Edwards' campaign finance chairman, Fred Baron, about hiding Hunter, but was rebuffed because the campaign hoped Edwards would be tapped as a vice presidential candidate for the 2008 Democratic ticket.

"[Baron] told me I needed to stay focused on the job at hand," Young said. "He told me to take a deep breath. Do the best I can." Baron, he said, "wanted us to try and hold on until the Democratic National Convention."

• During his meeting with Baron in Texas, Young said he was told to itemize more than $200,000 spent on Hunter, including $28,000 for Hunter's BMW, $2,400 for housekeeping and Hunter's allowance: $40,000 in cash.

• On Thursday, lawyers for Edwards attacked Young's credibility, questioning his timeline of events and discrepancies in his grand jury and trial testimonies. But the nit-picky cross-examination from Edwards' defense lawyer, Abbe Lowell, may have bored the jury and the judge.

"As Lowell's detailed questioning continued," the Associated Press reported, "some jurors appeared distracted and even U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles grew impatient."

"I'm not quite following," Eagles told Lowell at one point. "We're about to beat a dead horse here."

Edwards faces six criminal counts—including conspiracy, four counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions and one count of making false statements—for allegedly soliciting and secretly spending over $925,000 to cover up his affair with Hunter. If convicted on all six counts, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

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