RICHMOND -- Former governor Bob McDonnell described the deteriorating state of his marriage when he took the stand in his corruption trial Thursday.
McDonnell said although his wife helped put him through law school and was a "great campaigner" during his run for general assembly in 1991, communication has basically stopped in the last 18 months and the couple is no longer living together.
McDonnell said he moved in with his pastor at St. John's church a week before the trial because he didn't want to go home and "rehash what happened in court."
The former governor testified that he didn't believe his wife had a "physical affair" with Jonnie Williams but he believes the two have a "strong emotional relationship" since meeting in 2009.
The former governor and his wife are charged with accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements.
McDonnell testified that he and Maureen developed a sense of "separate lives" during the early 90s when he was traveling for the general assembly, Army Reserve and his own private practice.
"Maureen was a mom and did it very well," McDonnell said.
He said the couple's private arguments became more frequent because he was "emotionally unavailable," and tension and anxiety kept building.
After being elected governor, McDonnell testified that he found it difficult to deal with issues between Maureen and her staff.
"I signed up for this, but this was a lot. The crisis with Maureen's staff was just another hit," he said.
The former governor said he talked to Maureen about counseling but she was worried they wouldn't be able to keep it private so they never moved forward.
He testified that he thought the marriage might be over after reading portions of a September 2011 letter to his wife in court.
He wrote the e-mail after scheduling a rare weekend at home with his wife but instead experienced her "fiery anger" that staffers in the governor's mansion had testified about earlier in the corruption trial.
"I have made many mistakes in my life which I wish I could fix. I am sorry for all the times I have not been there for you and have done things to hurt you. I know I am a sinner and keep trying to do better. But I am completely at a loss as to how to handle the fiery anger and hate from you that has become more and more frequent," according to the e-mail displayed during the trial.
The day Bob McDonnell sent his wife the emotional e-mail, he said his wife did not respond. He testified that later he found out Maureen had communicated with Williams four times that day.
McDonnell said he liked Jonnie Williams when they met in 2009 and he found Williams "charming and funny." His wife, he said, "lit up" around Williams, which he found helpful because she was "in a better mood."
Maureen and Williams bonded over their passion for the nutraceutical business, McDonnell testified. He said Maureen seemed enthusiastic about the work Williams was doing.
McDonnell testified that the he didn't know about many of the gifts from Williams and accepted others on the suggestion of his wife.
He said the weekend away at Williams' lake house and driving the Ferrari was a sense of "normal" life and gave him an opportunity to take a break from the stress of being governor.
"Look, I'm entitled to be normal and drive," he said. "It was a Ferrari. It was fun. I was on vacation."
He said Williams never received anything in return for the gifts.
When asked why he thought people give a governor gifts he said, "Some people do it to be nice. Some so you remember them. Some to gain access to them and some to just spend time with them."
Testimony wrapped up Thursday as McDonnell was beginning to discuss the real estate company he co-owns with his sister and the loans that the company received from jonnie Williams.
McDonnell will retake the stand Friday morning. 13News Now reporter nick Ochsner will be inside the courtroom. Follow him on Twitter @13nickochsner for the latest updates.