Defense urges Sandusky jury to 'keep an open mind'

Centre Daily TimesJune 11, 2012 

— In his opening statement, Jerry Sandusky's defense attorney, Joe Amendola, urged the jury hearing the child sex-abuse case against the former Penn State coach to "keep an open mind" and "wait until all the evidence is in."

He also indicated that Sandusky himself will testify, saying the jury will hear from him in his own words.

Amendola said the evidence may seem overwhelming, comparing the task to climbing Mount Everest.

But he questioned the specifics of what evidence the state actually has. He brought up some of the alleged victims, as did the prosecution in opening arguments, referring to them by first name.

Amendola spoke of one whom he said will testify that he had dinner with the Sanduskys last week.

"You'll have to answer: Does that make sense?" Amendola said.

He also talked about assistant football coach Mike McQueary, who is expected to testify that he walked into a Penn State shower and saw Sandusky with a boy in what appeared to be a sexual scenario.

Amendola said he doesn't think McQueary is lying.

"What we think is that he saw something and made assumptions," Amendola said.

He also spoke against calling the boys Sandusky allegedly abused or attempted to abuse "victims," as the prosecution has.

"There are no victims in this case," Amendola said. "The only way, the only time there will be victims in this case is if you ... listen to all the arguments, hear the judge's instructions and you deliberate and you determine beyond reasonable doubt that Jerry Sandusky is guilty of all or some of these offenses, will there be victims."

Instead, he said, Sandusky was a caring man who wanted the kids to succeed and behaved like a coach.

A contract between Sandusky and an individual Second Mile child that McGettigan painted as a way to control the child, Amendola said, showed how much he cared.

"Jerry wanted these kids to succeed," Amendola said.

In Prosecutor Joseph E. McGettigan III's opening statement to the jury earlier, he described a controlling man who preyed on young boys and coerced them into sexual contact.

McGettigan painted a picture of eight of Jerry Sandusky's alleged victims while outlining what it is the former Penn State coach is accused of.

Jurors listened attentively as McGettigan gave an overview of what Sandusky is charged with doing to the boys — now young men — and warned them that the testimony would include details.

Images of the faces of the alleged victims as young boys — many smiling, one with Sandusky's hand on his shoulder — were projected on a screen during McGettigan's opening statements in the prosecution of a man he called a "serial predator."

McGettigan said he will have to press the young men for details of what happened.

"I ask you now that you forgive me," he said.

McGettigan also described Sandusky as a "predatory pedophile" and spoke of specific instances, including an incident in which Sandusky got in the shower with an alleged victim in a hotel room on a trip to a football game. Sandusky's wife, Dottie, walked into the room, but not the shower, McGettigan said.

Dottie Sandusky left the courtroom before the trial began.

Following a recess for lunch, the trial will resume with testimony for the prosecution, including one of the alleged victims.

The Sandusky trial opened this morning with Senior Judge John Cleland explaining the process to the jury. Members sat and listened attentively as Cleland explained the weight of their responsibilities and what is expected of them. "It's your sworn duties as jurors to follow my ruling on matters of law, whether or not you agree with them," Cleland said.

But, he told them, he is not the judge of facts; that is for them to decide.

"You the jurors are the sole judges of the facts," Cleland said.

He also spent time warning the jurors not to discuss the case — even with each other — or read or listen to any type of news reports.

Earlier this morning, boxes of evidence were hauled into the courthouse in advance of the opening of the trial.

In addition to boxes, a hockey stick, a snow board and several sets of golf clubs were taken into the courthouse.

The jury arrived in two small buses and entered the Centre County courthouse through a side door.

The people unloading evidence were special agents with the attorney general's office.

Dozens of photographers and reporters awaited the arrival of Sandusky, his legal team and prosecutors early this morning at the courthouse.

Jerry and Dottie Sandusky and Amendola entered the courtroom at 8:08 a.m. and the defense began unloading boxes of materials.

"Be glad I didn't bring everything," Amendola said.

The first prosecution witnesses, including at least one alleged victim, are expected this afternoon.

A tunnel has been set up at the back of the courthouse to allow jurors and witnesses to arrive and enter without being fully exposed to the media.

Cleland said he expects the trial to last about three weeks.

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2012/06/11/3224801/former-penn-state-president-graham.html#storylink=cpy

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