Gov. McDonnell: It's "crushing" being a defendant - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Gov. McDonnell: It's "crushing" being a defendant, personal toll of trial revealed

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Moments after a federal judge refused to dismiss criminal charges against the former First Couple, Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters Friday the trial has taken a personal toll, and said he is ready to take the witness stand.

"This is, you know crushing to be a defendant in a criminal case," McDonnell said outside federal court. "I know in my heart what the truth is, and we'll look forward now to having our case."

The comments were the first McDonnell made during the trial, concerning the personal impact of three weeks of explosive testimony.

"I knew this was going to be a long trial," McDonnell said. "I'm just glad that we finally now get to have a chance to present our case and our evidence. And I'm looking forward to Monday."

The defense will begin to present its case Monday, with no timeframe on when the former governor will take the stand. Defense lawyers have signaled Mrs. McDonnell will not testify.

Gov. McDonnell defended his 38 years in public service, noting his time as an active duty member of the Army from 1976-1981, and as an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel from 1981-1997.

"I always try to tell the truth about everything I know about public life," McDonnell said. "And that's what I'm going to do when I take the stand."

McDonnell defense lawyers unsuccessfully argued for nearly an hour that all charges should be dropped, in a hearing the day after the government rested. The defense asserted a multitude of gifts have been shown to members of the jury, but the government has not produced evidence of official acts made by McDonnell in return.

Defense attorney Ryan Newman said the McDonnells only provided businessman Jonnie Williams access to decision makers, but never promised or performed official acts to help his company, Star Scientific.

"It would be a dangerous precedent to start a federal investigation and throw a public official in prison… because of arranging meetings," Newman said.

The government fired back, saying context is critical to the McDonnells' meetings and events.

Prosecutor Ryan Faulconer argued that hosting a research event at the Executive Mansion for Williams, in the context of knowing the former CEO needed research for his pill, Anatabloc, constituted an official act.

"As to why Williams ultimately received nothing in return, it's because Williams wasn't paying the health officials," Faulconer said. "They were independent."

Testimony for the defense will begin at 9:45 a.m. Monday, with the case expected to last two to three more weeks.

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