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Did Virginia Prosecutors Get What They Wanted From Jonnie Williams?

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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.
(AP Photo/Office of the Governor of Virginia, Michaele White)
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.

The corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has begun its second week. Former Star Scientific CEO Johnnie Williams, the prosecution's star witness, is done with his testimony after nearly three full days on the stand. But did he deliver everything that government prosecutors hoped he would?

When defense attorney Bill Burck told members of the jury that Maureen McDonnell has a crush on Jonnie Williams, the businessman at the center of the scandal, it was a moment of high drama.

Before last week, that aspect of the case had not yet been revealed to the public. Now Williams says that was the first time he found out about the crush too. But during opening statements, Maureen McDonnell's lawyers said Williams had deceived the first lady into thinking he cared for her.

Under questioning by defense attorneys, the government's star witness is saying he did not know Maureen McDonnell had any interest in him before that time. He says the relationship was all about promoting his business, not stealing hearts.

Williams testified that he never exchanged text messages with first lady Maureen McDonnell in the middle of the night. But defense attorneys entered evidence in court that he exchanged more than 50 text messages in a single day in 2011, eight of them were between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m.

"They demonstrated that Jonnie Williams is not a truth teller," says Rich Kelsey, assistant dean of the George Mason Law School. He says the defense attorneys accomplished their goal with Williams, although prosecutors failed to get the most out of their star witness. "At the end of the day, the only quid pro quo that they have here is between the government and Jonnie Williams for his testimony," he says.

Williams is testifying under cloud of immunity, a fact that the defense attorneys have already hammered home on several occasions. The star witness is done for now, although he could be called back later in the trial.

"Most of us understand that when you are a man sending texts to a woman between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m., that's the middle of the night," Kelsey says.

Next up for the prosecution is Monica Block, the governor's scheduler. The defense is not expected to start their case until next week at the earliest.

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