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John Edwards trial: Judge rejects motion to dismiss charges

Lawyers for the former presidential candidate argued that the prosecution hadn't proven its case.

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Former US senator John Edwards arrives at a memorial service for U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in August 2009 in Boston. (Chris Hondros/AFP/Getty Images)

The judge in John Edwards' campaign corruption trial rejected a defense motion to dismiss the charges against him Friday.

Lawyers for Edwards argued before US District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles that prosecutors failed to prove the former presidential hopeful intentionally violated the law, The Associated Press reported.

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After two-and-a-half hours of arguments from prosecutors and the defense, the judge ruled immediately from the bench that there was enough evidence to let jurors decide, according to the AP.

The decision means lawyers for Edwards will have to present his case before a jury. They planned to call their first witness on Monday, Greenville, N.C., TV station WNCT reported.

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Edwards is accused of using nearly $1 million in secret payments from his campaign finance manager Fred Baron and 101-year-old heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to cover up an affair he had with a campaign videographer, Rielle Hunter, who later had his baby, NBC News reported.

Edwards has said the payments used to hide Hunter were gifts, not campaign contributions. If convicted, he faces 30 years in prison.

After 14 days of testimony and evidence presented by prosecutors, legal observers told the AP they felt the government's case was weak.

"They have established their case enough to get to a jury, but it has holes in it," said Kieran J. Shanahan, a Raleigh defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor. "He is not charged with being a liar and he is not charged with having a baby out of wedlock. He is charged with breaking campaign finance laws."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120511/john-edwards-trial-judge-rejects-motion-dismiss-charges