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Jury Gets Its Chance In McDonnell Corruption Trial

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, left, is escorted out of Federal court by a security officer after a motions hearing in Richmond, Va.
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, left, is escorted out of Federal court by a security officer after a motions hearing in Richmond, Va.

The corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is heading into week six. The coming week is likely to offer a dramatic conclusion.

Members of the jury in the ongoing public corruption trial of former Republican Governor Bob McDonnell head back to the federal courthouse in Richmond to begin considering a verdict.

"I have a strong feeling that there is going to be a conviction now on one or more counts," says Rich Kelsey, assistant dean of the George Mason School of Law. "That's how strong the close was. That's how well they tied the evidence together."

When he gavels court into session this morning, Judge James Spencer will instruct the jurors on how they should evaluate the 14 separate charges against the former governor and his wife. Some of the charges are more straightforward, such as bank fraud and obstruction of justice. But half of the charges are allegations of public corruption, which George Mason Law School assistant dean Rich Kelsey says is a high bar to meet.

"You've got to receive something that you are not entitled to, know that you are not entitled to it and then, of course, you have to do some official government act in return for it," Kelsey says.

That last part is where jurors are likely to get bogged down. Part of the McDonnells' defense is that they took no official action to help former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, and the only special treatment McDonnell ever gave him was calling the businessman's father on his birthday.

Prosecutors say the McDonnells received almost $200,000 in gifts and loans in exchange for helping Williams promote his products. They are facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Reporting from Richmond, I'm Michael Pope.

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