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Rolex Captures Spotlight In McDonnell Corruption Trial

The wristwatch (not shown here) is a key piece of evidence in the corruption trial of Virginia Governor McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.
https://flic.kr/p/7wfuVW
The wristwatch (not shown here) is a key piece of evidence in the corruption trial of Virginia Governor McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

Jurors in the corruption trial of former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell handled an important piece of evidence today in Richmond, Virginia.

The seconds swept by on the personally inscribed Rolex watch as members of the jury took turns holding it, examining it and then passing it to the next juror. The wristwatch is a key piece of evidence in case because it was purchased by businessman Jonnie Williams, who was hoping to buy power and influence for his nutritional supplement company.

Now it's in the hands of the jury.

A trial does involve a fair bit of theater," says white-collar criminal defense lawyer Michael Levy. He says prosecutors are hoping to engage all of the senses, including touch — giving jurors tactile evidence of what they say was a corrupt scheme to buy power and influence. "Most of the jurors have probably never even seen, never mind held, a $6 or $7,000 Rolex watch."

Williams testified that he thought it was wrong to buy the watch and didn't want people to know. The watch is an important piece of evidence because it represents a tangible chunk of the more than $165,000 in secret gifts prosecutors say the McDonnells received from Williams.

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