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Entries in Testimony (20)

Friday
Aug102012

Drew Peterson Choked Wife, Friend Testifies

Giovanni Rufino/NBC NewsWire(CHICAGO) -- Drew Peterson once grabbed his wife around her neck and asked, "Why don't you just die?" according to a friend of Kathleen Savio's who testified in Peterson's murder trial Thursday.

Peterson, 58, is on trial for killing Savio, his third wife, and making it look like an accident.  She was found dead in her bathtub in 2004 and the death was initially ruled an accidental drowning.  After Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, vanished from their home in 2007, police exhumed Savio's body and reexamined it for signs of murder, finally charging Peterson.

On Thursday, Savio's friend Mary Parks testified about conversations the two women had regarding Peterson.

"Kathy told me that her husband, Drew Peterson, said he could kill her, make her disappear," Parks said on the stand, according to ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.  Parks teared up as she recalled the conversation about Peterson grabbing Savio's neck.

Savio told Parks that her estranged husband told her, "Why don't you just die?"

"She unzipped the top, it opened and I saw marks on her neck," Parks said.

According to her testimony, Parks took nursing classes with Savio, but did not see her again after their graduation in December 2003.  Savio died in February 2004.

When Parks heard of the death, she called the Will County State's Attorney's Office and asked if the case was being investigated, she testified Thursday.

The testimony on Thursday marked the second day hearsay statements were allowed into the court transcript, following a significant decision Wednesday by Judge Edward Burmila to allow Savio's friends to testify about Peterson's alleged threats.

On Wednesday, Kristen Anderson, who lived in Savio's basement after Savio and Peterson split up, said that Savio slept with a knife under her mattress because she was so afraid of Peterson.

"She showed me a knife that she kept in between her mattresses for protection," Anderson said.

Anderson recalled a conversation in which Savio confessed that Peterson once told her, "I could kill you and make it look like an accident."

After the statement, Anderson broke down in tears and had to leave the courtroom, according to WLS.  She returned later and continued testifying about Peterson's threatening behavior, including an incident in which Peterson broke into the home, dressed in SWAT gear, and held a knife to Savio's throat while threatening her.

Anderson said she called police three times about Savio's case in 2004, but those calls were never returned.

Burmila's decision to allow the testimony was hailed by the prosecution, which has no physical evidence tying Peterson to the scene of the crime.

"Judge Burmila made an historical ruling today," prosecutor James Glasgow told WLS.

Defense attorney Michael Lopez said his client was disappointed in the ruling.

"He's upset," Lopez said, according to the report.  "But you have to deal with the cards they give you."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

John Edwards' Daughter Cate to Testify He Loved His Wife

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The most difficult testimony John Edwards may have to endure in his trial is scheduled for Tuesday, when his daughter Cate is expected to take the stand and tell the court how much her father loved her mother.

Cate Edwards, 30, has been Edwards' most visible supporter throughout the month-long trial, but even she left his side when the testimony has concentrated on the hurt that her father's affair caused her mother.

John Edwards is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter, and later their baby daughter, during his quest for the 2008 presidential nomination.  If convicted, he could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Edwards' defense team has argued that the money was not intended for his political campaign, but meant to hide his affair from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.  Testimony on Monday depicted Elizabeth Edwards as a woman with a "volcanic" temper who feared humiliation for herself and her children because of her husband's infidelity.

Cate Edwards will be expected to corroborate her father's version of events.

"I think we will expect to hear more details from Cate how he loved Elizabeth, how he tended to her in her final days," Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, the Washington bureau chief for People magazine and someone close to the Edwards family, told ABC News.  "You will hear more about that that was his primary concern in hiding the affair, protecting his family."

"Cate told me not too long ago, I'm the child of two parents... And she is going to stick by him.  She said that is what families do.  She believes he committed no crime," Westfall said.

Westfall noted that Cate Edwards, who is a lawyer, was recently married and lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband.  But she has returned to North Carolina for her father.

"She's a newlywed, and her husband lives in D.C. full time.  Cate has packed up her life and went to down Chapel Hill to help her dad out with her two younger siblings.  She is really kind of head of the family right now, taking her mother's place, coordinating the kids' schedules.  And she is working it out with her dad.  They are very close still, you know," Westfall said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

Roger Clemens' Former Trainer Faces Grilling by Defense

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Roger Clemens' former strength coach will take the stand again on Tuesday in the government's perjury trial against the former major league pitcher.

Clemens is accused of lying to Congress in 2008 about his use of performance enhancing drugs.  The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was indicted in August 2010 on six counts of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements.

During his first day of testimony, Brian McNamee contradicted what Clemens told Congress, detailing to jurors the first time he injected the pitcher with steroids in the spring of 1998.

“Roger pulled down his pants, exposing his right buttocks," McNamee told the Washington, D.C., courtroom on Monday.  "He bent his leg and started to flex his butt and said, ‘I'm ready.  Just make sure there's no air bubbles in it, right?’”

“I injected him and plunged the fluid into his buttocks,” McNamee said.  “It looked like it was a clean strike.”

The trainer went on to say that he injected Clemens eight to 10 more times that season.

On Tuesday, McNamee will continue his testimony, and will likely be due for an intense grilling when it comes time for cross-examination.

The lead defense attorney intends to portray the former strength coach as a liar -- an alcohol abuser who betrayed his boss for money and fame, and to escape criminal charges.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May092012

Prosecution Will Not Call On Rielle Hunter in John Edwards Trial

Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Rielle Hunter will not testify as a witness for the prosecution during the John Edwards trial.  Though much of the trial hinges on Edwards' relationship with his mistress Rielle Hunter, the prosecution said it would rest its case Thursday without calling Hunter as a witness.

Hunter had been on the list of potential witnesses the prosecution might call. Though the government will pass on putting Hunter on the stand, Edwards' defense team may still do so.

"There is one person who seems to be at the center of all of this, these spinning planets, and that's Rielle Hunter," Steve Friedland, professor of law at Elon University, told ABC News.

Still, on one of the last days of the prosecution's case, the poignant testimony of Jennifer Palmieri, a longtime friend of Elizabeth Edwards who worked as a spokeswoman for John Edwards' presidential campaign, recounted Elizabeth's last days before she passed away in December 2010.  She testified Wednesday that up until John Edwards officially claimed paternity of his mistress's daughter, his dying wife Elizabeth clung to his lies that he was not the father and on her deathbed lamented that she would die alone because of his indiscretions.

"She was not able to speak at this stage," Palmieri, who now works for the Obama White House, said through tears.

"But before [she died, Elizabeth] expressed concerns because she didn't want to be alone," Palmieri told a rapt courtroom. "When she and John separated...she was concerned there would not be a man around to love her and I said: 'I would be there.'"

Edwards' daughter Cate, 30, who has been at her father's side almost every day of the trial, left the courtroom before Palmieri's emotional testimony about her mother's dying days. Cate also left the courtroom last week just before testimony about her distraught mother confronting Edwards about the affair on an airport tarmac, collapsing on the ground and tearing off her blouse.

As Palmieri testified, Edwards, on trial for allegedly using campaign funds to cover up his mistress Rielle Hunter and love child, rubbed his eyes and pressed his forehead against his hand. Edwards claims the money was used to hide the girlfriend from his wife, not the government.

If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Witness: John Edwards Confessed to Mistress Money Cover-Up

Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Just before John Edwards went public about fathering his mistress' daughter, he confessed to his speechwriter that he was aware that a wealthy donor had supported the woman and his baby girl.

Wendy Button testified Tuesday in his trial that Edwards dropped his denials about Rielle Hunter being his mistress, fathering her baby and being unaware of money being spent to take care of Hunter and to keep his secret while running for president.

Button testified Tuesday that while preparing his speech Edwards told her that "he had known all along that Fred Baron had been taking care of things."

Baron, a wealthy Texas trial lawyer who served for a time as Edwards' campaign treasurer, had donated thousands to Edwards' campaign as well as a couple hundred thousand dollars to help protect his secret.

In an original draft of the speech Edwards gave coming clean about the paternity of his daughter Frances Quinn, Edwards thanked Baron for his financial support, Button told the court.

"While I never asked my friend Fred Baron for a dime, I stood by while he supported my daughter. And I will reimburse his wife," Edwards had initially intended to say in his apology speech, Button testified.

But that line was later dropped and replaced, she said. Edwards said for "legal and practical purposes" that line need to be changed to read, "Some people without my knowledge supported Quinn," Button said.

The speechwriter testified that she was "deeply" concerned about changing the language of the apology to be less specific. She said she knew the phrase "without my knowledge" in reference to the donors who paid to hide his mistress and daughter "wasn't true."

Button asked Edwards if he should also apologize to Andrew Young, the aide who lied on Edwards' behalf and falsely claimed he had fathered Quinn to protect his boss' political career.

But Edwards said Young should not be recognized in the statement because he was "a bad guy."

The hush money came from Baron and wealthy heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

Edwards is accused of illegally using nearly $1 million in campaign donations to hide his mistress. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Edwards' defense is that the money was never intended for political purposes, but only to keep his mistress a secret from his wife. He claims he did not know about much of the money Young had sought from wealthy donors and that Young was out to keep much of it for himself.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

John Edwards Trial: Will Mistress Rielle Hunter Testify?

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Prosecutors in North Carolina are looking to wrap up their case against John Edwards by the end of the week, but it remains unclear whether they will take the potentially risky move of calling the former presidential hopeful's mistress Rielle Hunter to testify.

Edwards is on trial for allegedly using campaign donations to hide his affair with Hunter and her subsequent pregnancy.  He could be sentenced to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Throughout the trial, which is now in its third week, Hunter has been called "crazy" and a "loose cannon" who relied on a "spiritual adviser" for everything from the right dressing for a Reuben sandwich to the best place to have the baby Edwards secretly fathered.

"It is dangerous to call her at the end, because if she flops for the government, it's not the note that you want to end on," former prosecutor Kieran Shanahan told ABC News.  "At the same time, I just think the story is incomplete without her and she will acknowledge that she did receive the money."

On Monday, Tim Toben, a friend of Edwards' former top aide Andrew Young, testified that in the fall of 2007 he was given a secret mission to drive Hunter along with Young and his wife to the airport in the middle of the night so they could leave North Carolina and go into hiding.

"It was peculiar because [Hunter] had black sunglasses on, even though it was dark," Toben told the court, adding that "she was clearly pregnant."

Toben also testified that when the Youngs and Hunter were living in California he was also asked to go to Hunter's rental home in North Carolina and retrieve some personal items, including "a photograph of Mr. Edwards and Miss Hunter."  On the photo, "I love you, John,'" was written, Toben testified.

In the summer of 2009, Hunter testified before a grand jury under an immunity agreement, and raised some eyebrows when she brought her daughter Quinn along.  At that time, Edwards had yet to admit he was the child's father.

In Hunter's only public statements since the affair was exposed she has seemed to support the defense theory that Edwards was hiding his affair with her from his wife, rather than hiding it from voters.  When asked by Oprah Winfrey whether she thinks Edwards was more afraid of the public finding out about their relationship or of his wife Elizabeth -- who died of cancer in 2010 -- discovering the affair, Hunter replied, "Elizabeth."

In an interview that accompanied a risqué photo spread with GQ magazine in 2010, Hunter claimed to be in the dark about the $725,000 funneled from wealthy heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to Young, who has become the government's key witness.

"I never had any idea," Hunter told the magazine.  "He told me he received two [small] checks from her ... and that he never deposited them."

The prosecution is trying to prove that Edwards willfully, personally and routinely asked Mellon for money, and that he knew about the $725,000 Mellon funnelled to him through Young over the course of his campaign to win the presidency between 2006 and 2008.

Edwards' defense hinges on his argument that he never personally asked Mellon for any money, that Young acted on his own to solicit money, and he was hiding Hunter from his wife, not from the voters or the government. 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May032012

John Edwards Denied Affair But Balked at Signing Affidavit

Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards' presidential campaign staff staunchly denied a National Enquirer report that he had a pregnant mistress, but when they drew up an affidavit so Edwards could put his denial in writing, the candidate refused to sign it, a former campaign spokesman testified Thursday.

Mark Kornblau, who is currently the spokesman for U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, was the latest witness in a series of political pros who worked on Edwards' campaign for the presidency from 2006 to 2008.

Kornblau worked as Edwards' national spokesman and issued a strong denial that succeeded in keeping the Enquirer's story about Edwards' pregnant girlfriend Rielle Hunter from being picked up by the mainstream news media.

Having the story spread, Kornblau said, "would be a terrible outcome for Mrs. Edwards. I believed it to be untrue. Thirdly, it would be damaging to the campaign."

In an attempt to convince the Enquirer to not run the story, Kornblau had an affidavit drawn up in which Edwards denied the affair and denied paternity of Hunter's child. But Edwards refused to sign it, he said.

In a later conversation with Kornblau, Edwards hinted that Hunter's pregnancy may have been the result of a fling with another campaign staffer, Andrew Young.

"He told me it was not physically possible that he was the father," Kornblau testified. He added, "I have a vague recollection of him saying, 'Do you think it could be Andrew's child?'" he said.

Edwards is charged with violating campaign finance laws by using more than $1 million from wealthy donors to hide his pregnant girlfriend. He could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

John Edwards Sex Tape Testimony Will Be Allowed, Court Rules

Sketch by Christine Cornell(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The sex tape made by John Edwards and his mistress Rielle Hunter may yet play a significant role in Edwards' trial as the judge cleared the way Monday for testimony surrounding the steamy video that was made as Edwards was preparing to run for president.

Prosecutors and Edwards' lawyers have agreed the video itself won't be shown to jurors.

But the two sides have agreed that testimony about the tape can be introduced.

Among the questions that Edwards' lawyers may seek to be answered, they said in court Monday while the jury was out, was whether former Edwards aide Andrew Young stole the video from Hunter, whether he tried to sell it, and whether he threatened Edwards with it when the effort to hide Hunter was unraveling.

Earlier questions about the video were put on hold until Judge Catherine Eagles made a ruling about it.

The ruling came during a day of often angry and emotional testimony from Young's wife, Cheri Young, who told the court she was disgusted by Edwards' financial scheme to hide his girlfriend's pregnancy, but agreed to help after Edwards personally assured her that it was legal.

"I heard Mr. John Edwards tell me on the phone that he checked with the campaign lawyers and this is legal. Get the money in," she testified that Edwards said to her. "He was very short and very angry."

It was the second time jurors heard a witness testify that Edwards had insisted that the financial scheme was legal. Andrew Young has also testified that he was assured by Edwards there was nothing illegal in what they doing to hide Hunter's pregnancy.

Edwards is accused of using campaign donations to hide his mistress. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

John Edwards Told Cheri Young the Mistress Money Was Legal

Sara D. Davis/Getty Image(GREENSBORO, S.C.) -- The wife of John Edwards' former aide testified Monday that she was "disgusted" by Edwards' financial scheme to hide his pregnant mistress, but agreed to help after Edwards personally assured her that it was legal.

"I wanted to hear it from Mr. Edwards myself," Cheri Young told the court Monday, once she was told that checks meant to keep mistress Rielle Hunter out of sight would be written out to Cheri Young's maiden name.

An impatient Edwards did call Mrs. Young, the wife of his longtime aide Andrew Young, who had been helping to hide Hunter.

"I heard Mr. John Edwards tell me on the phone that he checked with the campaign lawyers and this is legal. Get the money in," she testified that Edwards said to her. "He was very short and very angry."

"I cannot tell you how disgusted I was. Why me? This was my husband's fight. He did this all day. Fix the problem, fix the problem. Now guess what? This is now my problem," she said.

It was the second time jurors heard a witness testify that Edwards had insisted that the financial scheme was legal.

Edwards is accused of using campaign donations to hide his mistress. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

Cheri Young, 38, a diminutive part-time pediatric nurse, took the stand Monday at the start of the second week of testimony. It was an often emotional, tearful recounting of the stress upon her and her family as they tried to keep Edwards' secret during the 2007-08 presidential campaign as Edwards kept asking her and her husband for more help.

Initially it was the checks, then it was to have Hunter move in with them. They later hit the road with Hunter so the media couldn't find her. Mrs. Young burst into tears while recounting how Edwards then suggested that her husband claim paternity for his baby.

Each time Mrs. Young gave in, including over the question of paternity.

"My husband and I had both done everything to help make this man president....If I didn't do this, take care of this, the campaign was going down," she said when confronted with the plan to funnel money through her name.

When confronted with the plan for her husband to say he had an affair with Hunter and got her pregnant, Cheri Young said, "The first thing in my mind was how in the world could Mr. Edwards ask one more thing of me? Of us?'"

She testified that she was furious at her husband, that she "screamed at him, cursed at him."

Mrs. Young's crying prompted the judge to halt proceedings and send the jurors out of the courtroom. When she had composed herself, Cheri Young explained to the court that everybody was on board with the paternity plan except her.

If she refused, "The campaign would explode and I would be responsible. So I ultimately agreed to go along with the lie."

Mrs. Young described living with Edwards' mistress as increasingly stressful. At first she was "shaking in her boots" when she went to cash the checks meant for Hunter's expenses. There was the abrupt announcement that Hunter was coming to live with them because their home was in a gated community, making it hard for the press to find her.

"She walked into the hallway. She took a spin and opened her arms out wide and said, 'I'm here.' I literally fell into the couch and I was just in awe. There was no hello," Cheri Young said.

Hunter treated them as servants, she said. "She told us what she wanted and we did it," Cheri Young said.

When the National Enquirer tracked Hunter to their home, the Youngs had a fright. Their children came downstairs in their pajamas one evening for a snack and they saw a man peering into their window.

"I screamed, my children screamed. And we called 911," she testified.

They hit the road to keep Hunter unavailable to the press and her demands increased to the point where she resisted allowing the Youngs to return home so they could put their kids in school.

Mrs. Young can expect a tough grilling during cross examination. Her husband was questioned for two days by Edwards' lead attorney, Abbe Lowell.

She can expect to be asked why about $1 million of the alleged hush money ended up in her family's pockets and helped bankroll the construction of their luxurious North Carolina home.

Edwards' defense team laced into Andrew Young, claiming that he used the scandal to enrich himself. They also claimed that Edwards used the money to hide Hunter from his wife, not from the government or the public.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr272012

John Edwards Judge Won't Block Sex Tape Testimony

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The judge in the John Edwards trial Friday rejected a bid by Edwards' former mistress to sharply restrict what the court and the public can hear about a sex tape the couple made together.

The tape shows Rielle Hunter, who later gave birth to Edwards' child, and it shows enough of Edwards to be able to identify him.

Judge Catherine Eagles rebuffed the request Friday, after she had earlier ruled that the video itself was inadmissible and would not be introduced during the trial.

Hunter, who was a videographer on Edwards' failed bid for the presidency in 2007, is expected to testify later in the trial.

The tape came up when Edwards' lawyer Abbe Lowell was grilling key prosecution witness Andrew Young about the final conversation that Edwards and Young during a car ride on Aug. 18, 2008 in a wooded area. By this time their friendship had been severely strained by the extraordinary efforts to keep the secret of Hunter's pregnancy.

During their conversation Young told Edwards, "If he wasn't going to tell the truth about what transpired, then I was going to tell the truth."

Young told Edwards that he had saved voicemails, text messages, emails and photographs.

"You also told Mr. Edwards you had a private video of Miss Hunters?" Lowell asked.

At that point, the prosecution objected and the subject was not pressed.

Young said that Edwards was sweaty and "at one point I was scared for my life."

"Did you think John Edwards was going to shoot you?" Lowell asked.

"Not personally," Young answered.

"You thought there was a gunman in the woods who was going to come and shoot you?" the lawyer asked.

"That thought did cross my mind," he answered.

"Were you afraid there was a gun or a tape recorder?" Lowell asked.

"Both occurred to me," Young replied.

Edwards is on trial for allegedly using more than $900,000 in campaign donations illegally to hide Hunter and her pregnancy.  His defense, however, says the money was used to hide the affair from Edwards' wife and was not related to his presidential campaign.

They emphasized that point Friday by noting that in a book Young wrote about the affair he said that during the Aug. 18 car ride Edwards told his once trusted aide that he had already confessed to his wife, Elizabeth Edwards. "I have told Elizabeth and you can't hurt me," was the quote.

During his testimony this week, however, Young has said to the court that Edwards said simply, "You can't hurt me."

They have also depicted Young as a greedy liar who used the scandal for his own financial profit.

In Friday's testimony, Young conceded that he included as affair-related expenses trips with his family to Disneyland, Legoland, skiing in Aspen, and a trip to Mexico.

He also admitted spending $200,000 of the money to put in a pool at his home and wire it for audio.

Young testified earlier this week that he was told that hiding Hunter was the "most important" job in the campaign, even after Edwards dropped out of the race because he was hoping to become vice president or attorney general.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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