Lawyer: I will die of "heart attack" if Sandusky's acquitted

9:41 PM, Jun 22, 2012   |    comments
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BELLEFONTE, Pa. - Jerry Sandusky's defense attorney said he would die of a "a heart attack'" if the jury returned with a full acquittal of the former Penn State University assistant football coach.

"Look at the odds against him,'" Joe Amendola said Friday, while awaiting a verdict in the case. "I'll probably die of a heart attack if he is acquitted of every charge."

Amendola, who made his statement in front of reporters and spectators in the courtroom, said his client and his family have been spending the last few days "praying and being with family" in preparation for a decision.

"It's like a funeral,'" the attorney said. "They are exhausted."

The attorney, who argued forcefully for his client Thursday, said that he has tried to prepare Sandusky for the prospect of conviction. Asked whether the former coach truly appreciated the risk he faces, Amendola said Sandusky has a lot of "kid in him.

"God bless him; he has always said he is innocent. This has been a daunting case," Amendola said.

Barred by court order from speaking publicly about the case, Amendola talked to reporters and spectators at length about the trial before a court officer interrupted the impromptu discussion, saying that the judge wanted to see him.

It was immediately unclear whether Amendola would face any court sanction.

Earlier, he said the Sandusky family was "crushed'" by their adopted son's recently-disclosed claim that he had been abused by his father. His attorney, Andrew Shubin, said in a written statement Thursday that the son met with prosecutors and was prepared to testify for the government.

He said Matt Sandusky, 33, had attended the first day of the trial with the Sandusky family and had been on the defense witness list.

He was not called as a witness by either side. The Pennsylvania attorney general's office had no immediate comment.

During their second day deliberating the fate of Jerry Sandusky, jurors asked for clarification Friday about rules related to the charges involving a 2000 incident in which the former Penn State assistant football coach was allegedly seen by a janitor in a university shower room sexually assaulting a young boy.

Called back into the courtroom, the panel was instructed by Judge John Cleland that the account of the janitor as related by co-worker Ronald Petrosky was not enough on its own to sustain a conviction. The janitor did not testify because he now suffers from dementia.

But the judge said the panel could include other direct and circumstantial evidence that may support the account, including Petrosky's testimony that he saw Sandusky leaving the shower room with a young boy moments before Petrosky said he encountered the emotionally shaken janitor, James Calhoun. Calhoun, Petrosky testified, said he saw Sandusky performing oral sex on the boy.

The jury's question marks the second time the panel has asked the judge for guidance during their discussions, each time the question has centered on alleged victims who have never been found by investigators. Earlier Friday, the jury was provided a review of the testimony offered by key prosecution witness Michael McQueary and McQueary family friend Jonathan Dranov.

The two provided differing accounts of a 2001 incident in which McQueary, a Penn State football assistant, said he saw Sandusky in a university shower room with a young boy engaged in what he believed was sodomy. Dranov said McQueary did not describe a sexual act when he spoke to McQueary later that same night.

The jury deliberated for more than eight hours Thursday before adjourning at the end of a long session after prosecutors and defense lawyers made their final appeals Thursday to the panel of seven women and five men.

They were sequestered in a local hotel overnight.

In closing arguments, Sandusky attorney Amendola said the charges against his client came from alleged victims who sought financial gain for their testimony and who were improperly coached by police investigators.

Prosecutors said Sandusky's attorneys had outlined a defense built on "a conspiracy that collapses under its own weight."

"It's not about seeking fame, fortune or money," lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan said. "This case is also about him."

In a voice barely audible in the courtroom, McGettigan concluded his closing argument saying: "I feel like I have 10 souls in my pocket."

He then marched to the defense table and stood beside the defendant.

"You can't give them back the pieces of the souls he took," McGettigan said, as two of the alleged victims watched from the front row. "Find him guilty of everything. Give him the justice he really deserves."

Earlier, Amendola assailed the credibility of the alleged victims, telling the jury that state investigators repeatedly coached them and others to provide damaging information against the former Penn State football coach.

Amendola seized on the alleged victim, identified in the grand jury report as Victim 1, who prompted the investigation nearly four years ago. He charged that the witness provided the most damning information against Sandusky only after he was prompted by investigators. He said the witness later hired a private attorney, as did five other alleged victims, in a bid to benefit financially in a future civil lawsuit against the defendant and the university.

Amendola said the initial witness started a "colossal chain of events" that led to Sandusky's arrest and trial.

Before closing arguments began, Judge John Cleland dismissed three of the 51 child sex-abuse charges against Sandusky. Cleland found one count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and one count of aggravated indecent assault involving the accuser known as Victim 4 weren't supported by the evidence.

Another charge involving another boy was dismissed because Cleland said it duplicated another count.

Sandusky still faces 48 criminal counts involving 10 alleged victims.


By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY

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