Sandusky Trial: National, State Media Tackle Seven Days of Testimony
BELLEFONTE – Maureen Dowd, a nationally known New York Times columnist, spent a majority of the seven days in the Centre County Courthouse watching testimony unfold in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial.
The disturbing details circulated in her columns around the world.
Dowd said Wednesday that keeping Sandusky off the witness stand may have been one of the smarter tactics taken by his defense lawyer, Joe Amendola.
"The defense expert on the field had none in court," Dowd wrote in an email. "But Sandusky's Bob Costas NBC interview and Jo Becker's New York Times interview were so spectacularly damaging, it was hard to believe even his lame lawyers would risk putting him on the stand.
"It didn't hurt John Edwards not to testify."
In 1995, when the defense rested its case in the O.J. Simpson trial – he was acquitted of two counts of murder – one of the reporters could be heard saying, "He is so guilty."
Joel Achenbach, veteran reporter for The Washington Post, covered the former NFL superstar's murder trial. He said there's no way of telling which way a jury will go, despite the evidence presented or who is called to testify.
"We watched for five months this trial play out. I'm pretty sure most every journalist who covered that case must have thought there was a mountain of evidence that he was guilty," Achenbach said.
"The jury acquitted him in less than two hours."
When Achenbach compares that trial to the Sandusky case, he said it does surprise him how quickly the latter high-profile trial is moving. Final arguments begin Thursday at 9 a.m., and the jury could begin deliebrating the case later that day.
Meanwhile, Simpson's defense team dredged out evidence for more than a month, the Office of the Attorney General didn't move to present more evidence once Sandusky's defense team rested Wednesday.
"This thing is moving along pretty quickly – were almost at a verdict already, we're moving along quickly," Achenbach said. "A typical trial only lasts a couple of days.
"When I went in the courthouse for O.J., there were a couple other trials that were actually murder trials. Two days in and out – these people were going to prison for life on trials that lasted two days."
"O.J. kept growing and growing. It was a total waste of a month."
If he could guess, Achenbach believes the prosecution must have kept things simple and not presented more evidence hoping it would work to their advantage. They must want to get this to a jury.
Michael Sisak, a reporter for The Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., also said the speed of the trial surprised him.
"The prosecution went four days and called 20 witnesses, eight of them alleged victims," Sisak said. "The defense went two and a half days – I'm surprised they didn't do more to attack the credibility on a surface level."
Amendola originally promised the jury would hear his client's voice. When he didn't deliver, it left many wondering, including the media. Sandusky, the 68-year-old former Penn State defensive coordinator, is facing 51 counts in a child sex abuse case.
"I was interested in hearing what he had to say. They had to have figured it would do more damage than good," Sisak said.
A reporter familiar to trial coverage, Sisak said the defense calling Dr. Jonathan Dranov didn't exactly provide the "positive bump" it may have been looking for. Dranov may even have bolstered the prosecution's case.
Adding to the defense's problems, "Dottie (Sandusky) didn't have the bombshell," Sisak said.
Sisak said the jury hasn't had the same exposure to the case the media has on an analytical level, so there's no real indication of which way the pendulum of fate will swing.
"You don't know what kind of sympathies they'll have, they might not have the same knee-jerk reactions as the court of public opinion," Sisak said.
"A quick verdict would be a sign that they didn't think things through, that they didn't give every consideration."