(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) — The defense attorneys for Jerry Sandusky had been intent on putting the former Penn State coach accused of child sex abuse on the stand to defend himself, but changed their minds on Wednesday because they felt they had already raised significant doubts about the prosecution’s case, ABC News learned exclusively on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, sources said the defense team was convinced they would have to put Sandusky, 68, on the stand to prevent him from being convicted of the 51 counts against him and possibly spending the rest of his life in jail.
Sources said that the defense team made their decision after Tuesday’s testimony in which the two lead investigators in the case told the court that they had not shared specific allegations of sex abuse with potential victims during interviews, but were shown to have done just that during an accidentally-recorded interview played for the jury.
One investigator was heard telling the man known as Victim 4 that others had already come forward claiming that Sandusky forced them to perform oral sex and raped them, even though Victim 4 had not said that Sandusky sexually abused him.
The defense has claimed that the investigation was “tainted” by eager state troopers who encouraged the alleged victims to claim they were abused.
Defense attorneys Joseph Amendola and Karl Rominger, along with Sandusky, made their decision on Wednesday just moments before they would have had to call Sandusky to the stand. Sandusky was then brought into Judge John Cleland’s chambers, where Cleland asked Sandusky if he knew that he had the right to testify in his defense and was giving up that right by choice. Sandusky told the judge he was aware, sources said.
The frantic decision-making took place during 45 minutes of closed-door meetings in conference rooms off the courtroom, ending with Amendola telling the court that the defense had chosen to rest its case.
Both sides will offer their closing arguments to the jury on Thursday before the case is handed over to the jury of seven women and five men for deliberations.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Lisa France, CNN
Sarah Stewart, KFOR
Brian Stelter, CNN
Angela Dewan, CNN