Power Play

Handwritten notes may hold key to Edwards trial verdict as jury deliberates

Jury deliberates for third day


Could a handwritten note from an interior decorator to a former campaign aide be the evidence that sets up a verdict in John Edwards' corruption trial?

The world will have to wait at least another day to find out, as the jury enters its third day of deliberations Tuesday.

Shortly before recessing Monday, the panel requested additional evidence from the prosecution, including a note from interior designer Bryan Huffman to ex-Edwards aide Andrew Young, which reads: "As Bunny says, 'For the rescue of America!'"

"Bunny," of course, is the nickname of Rachel Mellon, the heiress who funneled checks through her friend Huffman to Young. Prosecutors allege Young used a portion of the money to hide Edwards' pregnant mistress during his 2008 presidential campaign, which could net him prison time if the jury agree that such checks amounted to political donations.

In the North Carolina courtroom Monday, Edwards' mother could be seen holding tissues when the jury returned before heading out on a lunch break. She was wearing a gold cross about two inches long. 

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After what was, at times, an emotional trial, the jury is now sifting through a mountain of evidence as they weigh Edwards' fate. The former presidential candidate and one-time Democratic vice presidential nominee faces up to 30 years in prison on campaign finance charges. 

Edwards is accused of funneling more than $1 million from Mellon and another wealthy political donor to his mistress to cover up their affair. Jurors on Friday also asked to see a transcript of an August 2008 voicemail message, in which Edwards tells Young about an upcoming meeting with Mellon. 

According to the transcript, Edwards tells Young, "Immediately after lunch, she and I will break out into a private session for a couple of hours. That's when we'll do our work, including the work about you, and makin' sure you're, uh, protected and included..." 

The jury also asked to review a note Mellon wrote Young in April 2007 after Edwards took heat in the media for spending $400 on a haircut. 

In the note, Mellon writes, "...from now on, all haircuts, etc., that are necessary and important for his campaign -- please send the bills to me -- ? Alex Forger in New York. It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions." 

The defense argues that Edwards may have sinned in his affair, but broke no law in the cover-up. 

The prosecution argues that the $1 million from the wealthy donors constituted an illegal campaign donation since, they claim, it was used to protect his 2008 presidential bid. 

Steve Friedland, an Elon University law professor who has observed the trial, said the latest jury requests indicate "they are really going to start from scratch, and they're going to build their own analysis of the case." 

"The judge is certainly ready to be here for the long haul," he said. Friedland said there doesn't appear to be a "smoking gun" in the case, putting the task to the jury to "sift through lots of circumstantial evidence."

Fox News' Jonathan Serrie contributed to this report.