(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — John Edwards put his head in his hands and his daughter Cate left the courtroom in tears Wednesday as a former aide testified about how Edwards’ wife became distraught when she found out that he was still having an affair with mistress Rielle Hunter.
Elizabeth Edwards “collapsed in a ball” in an airport parking lot and tore off her shirt in a fit of anger, the witness said.
Mrs. Edwards was dying of cancer and had previously discovered her husband’s fling with Hunter, a videographer on his presidential campaign, in 2006. She had demanded Hunter be fired and the romance be ended.
Edwards, however, secretly continued the affair, which was reported in the National Enquirer in October 2007.
Christina Reynolds, a communications adviser on Edwards’ campaign who was also close to Elizabeth Edwards, told the court about Mrs. Edwards’ reaction when her suspicions of her husband’s continued infidelity were confirmed.
Before Reynolds began, Edwards said to his daughter Cate, “I don’t know what is going to happen next. Do you want to leave?”
Cate Edwards, who has been her father’s most visible supporter, got up and left the courtroom wiping away tears as Edwards called after her, “Cate, Cate.”
The day after the Enquirer‘s report was published, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards were en route to the Raleigh airport, but Elizabeth Edwards was pawing at her husband in the car and asking, “Is this what you two do in the car when you are together in New York City?” the court was told. Edwards stopped the car and got into another vehicle so that they arrived at the airport in separate cars. Edwards lowered his head in his hands as Reynolds spoke.
“Elizabeth was very upset… She was very vocal,” Reynolds told the court. “She stormed off and collapsed into a ball in the parking lot.”
Reynolds said aides helped Mrs. Edwards to her feet and into a restroom where they tried to calm her down.
“She seemed a little calmer and then stormed out of the bathroom and tried to engage Mr. Edwards. She said to him, ‘You don’t see me any more,'” and tore off her shirt and bra.
“How did John Edwards react to this?” the prosecutor asked.
“He didn’t have much of a reaction,” Reynolds said.
On cross examination, Edwards’ lawyer Abbe Lowell got Reynolds to say that Mrs. Edwards was “mortified” and “humiliated.”
“Her primary concern was the family….She didn’t want it to become public so the kids wouldn’t have to deal with it,” she said.
Edwards is accused of illegally using campaign donations to keep his mistress hidden, but Lowell’s questions apparently were intended to bolster the defense’s argument that Edwards used the money to keep the secret from his wife, not his campaign.
If convicted, Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison.
Earlier in the day, Edwards’ lawyer made a final effort to discredit the main prosecution witnesses against him by having Cheri Young concede that $3,800 of the money meant to hide Edwards’ mistress was spent on refashioning her wedding ring.
Cheri Young is the wife of Edwards’ former aide Andrew Young. The couple helped hide Hunter for more than a year, handling more than $1 million from wealthy backers to keep Edwards’ affair secret.
Edwards’ defense alleges that the Youngs used the sex scandal to enrich themselves, including spending $200,000 of the hush money to add a pool, a theater and other expensive upgrades to their home.
Defense lawyer Alan Duncan tried to reenforce that point Wednesday by presenting two bills from a jewelry store that the Youngs included in their expenses for covering up the affair. The bills totalled $3,800.
Duncan asked what the bills were for, prompting Cheri Young to reply, “This is an item my husband purchased for me, a revision of my wedding ring.”
Mrs. Young left the stand after four days of questioning. She and her husband were the trial’s first two witnesses, and their questioning has last nearly eight days.
Edwards’ defense in part is that the money was used to hide Hunter from his wife Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer, not to hide her from the campaign, and that the money was not campaign donations.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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