Outside Muskogee’s federal courthouse, cameras have captured Jeff and Lori McMahan holding hands while walking toward their trial site.
Inside the courthouse is another story.
During lengthy conferences between attorneys and U.S. District Judge James H. Payne, the couple rarely speak to each other. Lori McMahan reads a novel. Four feet way, her husband studies papers or stares downward.
Wednesday morning, 50 minutes passed that way, neither acknowledging the other, as attorneys met in Payne’s chambers to discuss a juror issue.
However, one moment during his wife’s testimony apparently touched the state auditor. It happened Tuesday as his wife tearfully recalled telling him one last August what she had just told the FBI: that she had committed crimes to help him win election in 2002 and had accepted jewelry and cash from a businessman whose companies her husband’s office regulated.
“I offered to pack my bag and leave if he wanted to,” Lori McMahan said, adding that her husband declined her offer. That testimony, followed immediately by Lori McMahan’s statements about her husband’s integrity, caused the auditor to wipe an apparent tear from the corner of one eye.