Cases Closed: Sandusky Trial Goes to Jury

Dramatic closing arguments by defense and prosecution in the Jerry Sandusky proceedings.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- The jury in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial started deliberations early Thursday afternoon, but only after witnessing the most dramatic moment of what had already been intense proceedings.

In closing the state’s case, lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan walked behind Sandusky. Sandusky looked back at McGettigan, confused, as the entire courtroom watched, rapt.

Jerry Sandusky arrives at court Thursday. His trial has gone to the jury for deliberation.

“He knows he did it, that he molested and abused and hurt these children,” McGettigan told the jury. “Give him everything he deserves. Find him guilty of everything.”

And with that statement on their minds, the jury went into sequestered deliberation, where it will determine the fate of the former Penn State assistant football coach facing 48 charges -- down from 51 after judge John Cleland threw out three of the charges earlier Thursday -- of abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.

The jurors -- seven women and five men -- were still deliberating into Thursday evening. They have asked to review the testimony of former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary and Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a defense witness who refuted some of McQueary's comments, and likely will not reach a verdict Thursday.

The eighth day of the rapidly moving trial consisted entirely of jury instructions from Cleland and then closing arguments from the defense and prosecution, respectively. As expected, the two sides painted much different portraits of the 68-year-old Sandusky.

Defense attorney Joe Amendola, his jacket unbuttoned with one hand in a pants pocket and the other gesturing in a folksy manner, repeatedly told the jury the case against his client “doesn’t add up” and said police prompted alleged victims to embellish their stories of abuse by Sandusky.

“Folks, do we have to get hit on the head with a brick to figure this out?” Amendola said. “This man’s life is at stake. … I submit to you they were gonna get him (come) hell or high water.

“The system decided Mr. Sandusky was guilty and the system set out to convict him,” he added.

Amendola specifically noted that most of the accusers underplayed the severity of the alleged abuse they suffered at Sandusky’s hands only to provide more graphic details after frequent interviews with police. The defense attorney also pointed to an audio recording where a police officer told the attorney for one of the alleged victims about case details related to other alleged victims.

Joe Amendola's take on the case: "The system decided Mr. Sandusky was guilty."

Amendola noted that six of the accusers had hired civil attorneys and argued that the prospect of financial benefits served as motivation to say whatever was necessary to convict Sandusky. He pointed out that some of the civil attorneys were in the gallery.

Amendola said he was as horrified as anyone by the accusations in the case. He added things have not been easy on the defendant, either.

“On Nov. 5 of last year, Mr. Sandusky’s world came to an end,” Amendola said, referencing the day Sandusky was originally charged.

“If he did this, he should rot in jail for the rest of his life,” Amendola said. “But what if he didn’t do it?”

McGettigan was not buying that angle. He attacked what he described as the defense’s “conspiracy theory,” saying such a plan to take down Sandusky would have involved illegal acts on the part of police, the attorney general’s office, prosecutors and witnesses.

“It involves time travel as well,” McGettigan said, noting the alleged crimes in the case date to the mid-1990s.

After being cordial for most of the trial, McGettigan went after Sandusky hard during closing arguments.

McGettigan called Sandusky a “perfect serial pedophile,” and highlighted a pattern of alleged behavior with multiple boys that evolved from light touching to heavier touching to sexual touching and then — in some cases — sodomy.

McGettigan also pointed out that the eight alleged victims who testified against Sandusky did so knowing they would be subjected to intense scrutiny.

“They knew they were going to be called liars, they knew they were going to be called money-grubbers,” he said. “I told them that.”

Because of it, McGettigan said, he felt a sense of responsibility to all 10 of the alleged victims in the case.

“I feel like I have 10 souls in my pocket, pieces of childhoods, ravaged boy’s memories, incinerated by this pedophile,” he said, walking toward Sandusky. “…You can’t give them back their souls.”

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