This May 5, 2011 photo provided by the office of the Governor of Virginia shows Jonnie Williams, right, and Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell, left, during a reception for the NASCAR race at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Va.
Members of the jury in the corruption case against former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell are hearing from Jonnie Williams, the businessman at the center of the scandal.
Was Jonnie Williams a lecherous scoundrel, out to seduce the governor's wife and use the Governor's Mansion as a launching pad for his nutritional supplement made from tobacco? Or was he the central figure in a conspiracy that involved Maureen McDonnell and her husband, who happened to be the most important figure in Virginia politics?
"Jonnie Williams is one of the most important voices that you'll hear in this trial," says Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at Mary Washington University. He says Williams is the star witness for the prosecution, and that their success or failure may depend on how jurors respond to his testimony.
"Because he's been given immunity, the former governor's team will try to portray him as someone who has told an inconsistent story. The prosecution, on the other hand, will try to demonstrate that this is the one person who can be trusted," Williams says.
Williams is expected to be back on the stand today for more questions, as prosecutors continue to lay the foundation of their case. Sometime today or tomorrow, though, the defense teams for Maureen McDonnell and Bob McDonnell will have their shot at cross examining Williams, and drawing attention to what they say is his shifting version of events.