Sandusky's defense rests; he does not take stand
Jerry Sandusky, right, and his lawyer, Joe Amendola, arrive at the Centre County Courthouse Wednesday morning.
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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- When the trial began, defense lawyer Joe Amendola told jurors in the Jerry Sandusky case that they would hear from the former Penn State assistant football coach, in his own words.
That did not, in retrospect, mean that Mr. Sandusky would testify. When the defense rested its case shortly before noon Wednesday, it had called 28 witnesses but not the defendant. Instead, the jury viewed a televised interview that Mr. Sandusky did with NBC's Bob Costas shortly after his arrest in November on child molestation charges.
Not putting Mr. Sandusky on the witness stand signaled that Mr. Amendola was satisfied that he had put in sufficient testimony and evidence to generate reasonable doubt among the seven women and five men on the jury about allegations that Mr. Sandusky sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year span. Calling Mr. Sandusky might have done more harm than good.
The jurors will receive final legal instructions this morning from Senior McKean County Judge John Cleland, who will tell them that Mr. Sandusky was not obligated to testify and that they should not infer guilt from his silence. The judge told the jury that he will give the legal instructions when court begins at 9 a.m., followed by the defense's closing argument and then the prosecution's.
That was a departure from the typical sequence of closing arguments followed by legal instructions. Some legal reform advocates prefer having the instructions first because they help the jury evaluate the lawyers' arguments.
Under Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, the prosecution always argues last.
The jurors will be sequestered until they reach a verdict.
The defense called four witnesses before resting Wednesday, including a doctor who spoke with Penn State graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary shortly after Mr. McQueary happened upon an alleged sexual assault by Mr. Sandusky on a boy in a locker room. Jonathan Dranov said Mr. McQueary spoke only of hearing the assault, not seeing it.
Dr. Dranov, who was called to the house of Mr. McQueary's father on a February night in 2001, said he arrived to find Mr. McQueary "visibly shaken and upset."
"He had gone into the Penn State football locker room to put away sneakers he had just purchased and he heard what he described as sexual sounds" coming from the shower, Dr. Dranov said. "I asked him what he meant and he got more upset."
According to the doctor, Mr. McQueary reported seeing a young boy peer out from around a corner. Then "an arm reached around and pulled him back," he quoted Mr. McQueary as saying. A bit later, Mr. McQueary saw Mr. Sandusky emerge from the shower, Dr. Dranov testified.
"Did he describe seeing any particular sex act?" defense lawyer Karl Rominger asked.
"No," Dr. Dranov replied. He said he advised Mr. McQueary to report the incident to Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno.
Dr. Dranov's testimony was offered in an effort to cast doubt on Mr. McQueary's earlier testimony that he had "three distinguishable looks" at the assault.
He was followed to the stand by Henry Lesch, a longtime executive at The Second Mile, the youth charity that Mr. Sandusky founded in 1977 and that prosecutors allege he used as a means of meeting, befriending and eventually abusing boys. Mr. Lesch testified about four exhibits that suggested that Mr. McQueary played in golf outings in June 2001 and June 2003 that The Second Mile held to raise money. One was a copy of a letter to Mr. McQueary thanking him for participating in the 2003 event.
On cross-examination by lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, Mr. Lesch acknowledged that the exhibits did not prove that Mr. McQueary actually attended the outings.
Chad Rexrode of Pittsburgh and David Hilton of Lancaster County testified about positive experiences years ago with The Second Mile youth programs and Mr. Sandusky.
Mr. Hilton testified that he was interviewed three or four times by state police investigating allegations that Mr. Sandusky molested children and said on direct questioning by Mr. Rominger that he believed the police "wanted me to say something that wasn't true." He said he was warned that if he didn't tell the truth, he could be charged with perjury.
Mr. Amendola has asserted that police coached the accusers into making up stories about abuse. On cross-examination, Mr. Hilton said police did not tell him what to say.
The lawyers worked out an agreement that prevented having Sara Ganim, staff writer for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, called to the stand about a message she sent to the mother of a would-be accuser, telling her who to contact to pursue the case. Under the agreement, jurors were told that if Ms. Ganim had been asked to verify the authenticity of the message, she would have answered "yes." The deal was reached after Ms. Ganim was subpoenaed by the defense. According to the Patriot-News, Judge Cleland had warned she could be jailed if she refused to testify.
Later, on Twitter, Ms. Ganim wrote that she would not have answered "yes" if placed on the stand. She said she would have refused to answer citing Pennsylvania's Shield Law.
Before Wednesday's proceedings, Judge Cleland announced that Juror No. 6 had contacted the court and said she was unable to attend because of illness. He seated the first of four alternates, also a woman, to replace her.
Mr. Sandusky is charged with 51 counts of sex abuse involving 10 boys, eight of whom testified at the trial and two of whom were never located. The most serious charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, of which there are 11, each carry a sentence of up to 20 years and a $25,000 fine.
First Published June 21, 2012 12:00 am