Jury seated in McDonnell corruption trial

RICHMOND, Va. (WUSA9) -- A twelve-member jury has been seated in the federal corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. Three alternate jurors were also chosen.

The couple are being tried together but are coming and going to the federal courthouse in Richmond separately. As the former Governor walked through the gauntlet or reporters and photographers he replied to their questions, "Good morning, good morning, how's everybody doing?" He said he was optimistic, "I have tremendous lawyers, faith in the justice system, and in God, and that's comforting," he said.

During the arduous jury selection process, he was seen reading from a prayer book.

He sat surrounded by his legal team several yards away from his wife who was surrounded by her team.

The two are charged in a federal corruption case that accuses them of conspiring to use the Governor's position, to enrich themselves. Prosecutors say they took $165,000 in loans and gifts from the then Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams and in return, promoted his nutritional supplement Anatabloc. Williams received immunity from prosecution, and will testify against the McDonnells.

"The prosecution has a tough case. There's no clear quid pro quo. And in some cases, it might look like Jonnie Williams may have gotten strung along here," said political analyst Bob Holsworth.

The indictment shows Mrs. McDonnell asking Williams for money and expensive items, including a Rolex Watch for her husband.

"Is it OK for a friend to give gifts to politicians? What does that mean for the Commonwealth?" are questions this trial is about, said Deidre Condit, head of VCU's Public Policy Department.

Several McDonnell family members are on the prosecution's witness list and so are many former staff of the governor's office. The defense witness list includes former Gov L. Douglas Wilder and current House Speaker William J. Howell R-Stafford. Being on a witness list only means that the person could be called to testify.

All of McDonnell's children are on the witness list.

In court on Monday, 142 potential jurors were asked all kinds of questions such as whether anyone in their family works in banking, or mortgage lending, whether they work for the state of Virginia, and whether they or family members have ever been convicted of a crime.

Judge James Spencer questioned each one individually asking them if they could be impartial or if they had already made up their mind as to the guilt or innocence of the McDonnells.

The trial starts back up again on Tuesday at 10 a.m. with opening statements.


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