Jerry Sandusky trial: Prosecution likely to rely on McQueary

(CBS News) Closing arguments are set to begin Thursday in the sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky.

The defense rested its case Wednesday without calling the former Penn State assistant football coach to testify.

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Sandusky faces charges from involuntary deviant sexual intercourse to endangering the welfare of child. If convicted on any of the more serious charges, the 68-year-old Sandusky could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The heart of the prosecution's case and closing argument will almost certainly be the sometimes tearful, often graphic testimony of eight accusers, now ages 18 to 28.

But in the end, the prosecution's strongest card may well be the testimony of former Penn State coach Mike McQueary - the only independent eyewitness to any alleged abuse.

It was McQueary who, in a decisive voice, told the court he saw Sandusky pin a young boy against the wall from behind - in "an extremely sexual position" - in a coach's shower back in February 2001. Despite multiple attempts, the defense appeared unable to shake the account.

Before the jury weighs the evidence, first the defense, then the prosecution will have one final say: depicting Sandusky as either a man misunderstood - a "father figure" driven to simply help troubled young boys - or, as a serial sexual predator who used the charity he founded to nurture, then betray the trust of boys brought into his home.

Earlier this week, the defense offered clear signs of how it will argue innocence: conflicting statements in some of the eight alleged victims testimony; an overzealous police investigation that led or coached kids into matching testimony; the desire to cash in on potential civil lawsuits; a parade of character witnesses lauding Sandusky as "wonderful," "revered" and "amazing."

What the defense won't have is Sandusky's testimony. Wednesday, in a decision that was debated until the very last minute, Sandusky chose not to testify in his own defense. A decision based, in part, on lead attorney Joe Amendola's belief that the defense, "got in everything they needed," ultimately outweighing the risk of what could have been a withering cross-examination by lead prosecutor Joseph McGettigan.

CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford discussed reasons why Sandusky didn't take the stand, saying it was probably due to a risk-benefit analysis. Watch his full "CBS This Morning" interview in the video below.

The jury will likely get the case Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday, the judge excused juror No. 6 for what he called health reasons. She was replaced by another woman, keeping the ratio of the jury at seven women and five men, many with ties to Penn State.

Watch Armen Keteyian's full report in the video above.

  • Armen Keteyian

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