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Sandusky Trial: Legal Expert Says Jerry Sandusky's Testimony Will be 'Make-or-Break Moment'

by on June 18, 2012 10:45 PM

BELLEFONTE – Jerry Sandusky and his defense team are about to face the moment of truth.

Whether the former Penn State assistant football coach takes the stand on his own behalf very well could determine the outcome of his child sexual abuse case.

"The defendant's decision to testify is a make-or-break moment," said Dave Pedri, a legal expert, attorney and former prosecutor.

Pedri believes that if Sandusky does testify, he will be the last witness on the last day of the defense's case.

"Everything is riding on it,"  Pedri said.

Should Sandusky decide to testify, Pedri said he could "literally be up there for hours while the prosecution pokes holes in (his story). The Bob Costas interview is a huge point – (Sandusky) has effectively already testified without being cross-examined."

Speculation continues to swirl around whether Sandusky will testify on his own behalf. Last week, prosecutors played parts of the interview Sandusky gave with his lawyer, Joe Amendola, on "Rock Center with Brian Williams" and NBC anchor Bob Costas.

On Monday, reports said prosecutors could play previously unaired footage from the interview as another tactic during cross-examination.

Meanwhile, Pedri commended the job prosecutor Joseph McGettigan did on Monday, using the short-lived testimonies given by the defense's witness to his advantage.

McGettigan asked very few questions to the afternoon witnesses, leaving some spectators in the courtroom wondering whether there was even a point to their testimony.

That's another tactic – one that a seasoned professional knows will work.

"The prosecution did a good job there. That is a trial strategy – he really went after them," Pedri said. "If he asked them one or two questions then dismisses them, then he hopes the jury will, too."

Pedri said the word he's heard a lot of so far in this trial is 'disjointed' – and Sandusky's defense team is now faced with the task of filling in holes the prosecution poked in its story.

Amendola has tried to use specific dates and gaps in the alleged victims' testimonies in an attempt to discredit the prosecution's case.

"This is a very, very difficult testimony to get over," Pedri said. "The witnesses' stories have been parallel – there's Sandusky as the father figure, then the horseplay."

Sandusky may be facing trial before a jury of his peers, but the job the both sides are doing leaves everyone watching with an opinion, which is later broadcast across the nation.

"Everyone in the courtroom is a juror," Pedri said.

Other possible defense witnesses could include Sandusky's wife, Dottie, as well as Jay and Sue Paterno.

Court resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday after an early recesses Monday. The defense has given no indication of who will be called to the witness stand.

Sandusky, 68, faces 51 counts in a child sex abuse case. He is charged with abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. He maintains his innocence.

Related coverage:

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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