RICHMOND, Va. — The moment the clerk read the jury’s verdict that shifted Robert McDonnell from a state leader, along with his wife Maureen, into convicted felons guilty of federal corruption charges was likely the most emotional of the entire trial.
Former governor Bob McDonnell walked down the street toward the courthouse for weeks, always telling reporters that he believed justice was on his side, along with the Lord. After 17 hours of deliberation, he found a different hand dealt; one much harsher than the original plea deal of one felony that was first offered to him.
When he entered the courtroom, he was confident. Inside the courtroom McDonnell rocked gently in his chair before the hearing began, staring straight ahead.
As the clerk read the first guilty verdict for count one, several members of the audience began to cry, along with his daughter. Their sobs could be heard throughout the courtroom.
As more guilty verdicts were announced, Bob McDonnell was seen visibly emotional and appeared to be weeping.
After the fourth guilty count was announced, he broke down. McDonnell slumped forward with his head in his hands, his face bright red.
Multiple family members sitting near the front row of the courtroom were distraught and needed to be comforted by their family pastor and other family members.
Several members of the 12 member jury stared down at the floor as their decision was read.
“I have to say it was the hardest decision of my life,” said one juror who does not wish to be identified; “just very relieved it is over.”
“Even though the law and facts were the basis for our decisions it was so very difficult to experience the reactions of the governor and family,” she said (watch for her interview at 11 p.m.)
McDonnell, once a rising Republican star, was considered a potential vice president candidate,. Now he and his wife face more than 30 years in prison.
McDonnell and his wife arrived and left the courthouse separately throughout the trial in a display at the heart of their defense. On their heartbreaking day, with Maureen also sobbing in the courtroom, the couple still exited separately.
Amid frantic reporters asking questions, Bob McDonnell said only “All I can say is my trust remains in the Lord,” as he got into the car. A shout from the crowd rang out: “We still love you.”