Former US presidential candidate John Edwards' campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial after jurors acquitted him on one charge but remained deadlocked on the other five.
They were unable to decide whether he used money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress while he ran for president, as his wife was dying of cancer.
The month-long trial exposed a sordid sex scandal, but prosecutors could not convince jurors that the Democrat masterminded a cover-up using about one million dollars (£640,000).
Edwards, 58, said on the steps of the court in Greensboro, North Carolina: "While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins."
The jury's decision came on a confusing day. The judge initially called jurors in to read a verdict on all six counts, before learning that they had only agreed to one. About an hour later, the jury sent the note to the judge saying it had exhausted its discussions. It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors will retry Edwards on the other counts.
When the not guilty verdict was read, Edwards choked up, put a single finger to his lip and took a moment to compose himself. He turned to his daughter, Cate, in the first row and smiled.
When the judge declared the mistrial and discharged the jury, Edwards hugged his daughter, his parents and his lawyers.
Later, he thanked the jury and his family, becoming emotional when talking about the daughter he had with his mistress Rielle Hunter. He said of Francis Quinn Hunter that he loved her "more than any of you can ever imagine and I am so close to and so, so grateful for. I am grateful for all of my children".
Talking about his future, he added: "I don't think God's through with me. I really believe he thinks there's still some good things I can do, and whatever happens with this legal stuff going forward, what I'm hopeful about is all those kids that I've seen, you know, in the poorest parts of this country and some of the poorest parts in the world that I can help them."
The jury reached a verdict on count three, which involved 375,000 dollars (£240,721) given by elderly heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008. The other counts dealt with 350,000 dollars (£224,763) Ms Mellon gave in 2007, money from wealthy Texas lawyer Fred Baron, filing a false campaign finance report and conspiracy.