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Entries in Trial (236)

Tuesday
Jul312012

Drew Peterson Lawyer Attacks Dead Wife as Trial Opens

Giovanni Rufino/NBC NewsWire(JOLIET, Ill.) -- Drew Peterson's lawyer told the jury in his murder trial Tuesday that the woman he is accused of killing was bossy, lied, had a terrible temper and went to therapy.

Lawyer Joel Brodsky, Peterson's lead defense attorney, attacked the character of Kathleen Savio, Peterson's third wife, in his opening statement. Brodsky's opening argument was interrupted by objections from prosecutors, just as the prosecutor's opening statement was marked by objections from Brodsky.

The contentious start to the trial foreshadows what is expected to be a battle over the prosecutor's key evidence: comments that Savio made to others before she died in 2004, and comments that Peterson's fourth wife Stacy Peterson made to people. Stacy Peterson has been missing since 2007.

Brodsky told the jury that Savio was on antidepressants and had been known to fly into jealous rages during the time that she and Peterson were divorcing in 2004. He described her as bossy and a liar, and said she would yell so loudly that other police officers where Peterson was a sergeant could her hear over the phone.

Savio was found dead in her bathtub one Monday morning in February that year, and her death was ruled an accidental fall by state police, Brodsky said.

"This was a household accident," he said. "Kathy slipped and fell in a household accident, case closed."

Peterson, 58, was charged with Savio's murder years later, after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared and Peterson became the focus of media attention and police investigators. Police exhumed Savio's body of as part of the investigation. A new forensic analysis performed on the body in 2007 showed that Savio did not die accidentally, but rather was murdered. Police then charged Peterson.

Brodsky said today that the only reason Savio's body was exhumed was the media's involvement in the case once Stacy disappeared. She has never been found.

Brodsky said that the defense would present forensic pathologists to testify that Savio's death was accidental. The prosecution will likely present its own expert witnesses to testify that it was homicide.

The defense's portrait of Peterson was in stark contrast to that presented by prosecutors just hours earlier, as they argued to the jury that Peterson stood to gain financially from Savio's death, and had the police knowledge to stage the crime scene to make it look like an accident. Peterson was a police sergeant in Bolingbrook, Ill., at the time of Savio's death.

"The evidence shows this wasn't an accident," prosecutor James Glasgow told the jury of seven women and five men. He noted that at the time of Savio's death, Peterson was financially supporting her, his girlfriend Stacy Peterson, two homes and his children.

Both of the opening statements were interrupted frequently by objections from attorneys. Legal wrangling over what evidence could be mentioned during opening statements had plagued the trial since its start Tuesday morning, when Brodsky called for a mistrial within minutes of the prosecution's opening statement. Brodsky's request was denied.

The arguments over what the jury will be allowed to hear are expected to play a pivotal role in the case, as the prosecution tries to prove their murder charge by admitting statements Savio and Stacy Peterson made to acquaintances.

Judge Edward Burmilia has said he will rule on each issue as it comes up during trial.

The first witness to testify in the trial was the woman who found Savio dead in her bathtub in 2004. Mary Pontrelli, a close friend and neighbor of Savio's, said that she knew Savio and Peterson had a rocky marriage that exploded when Savio discovered Peterson was cheating on her with another woman.

Savio also had a deadbolt installed on her bedroom door, a door which had a large hole in it when photographed by investigators after Savio's death, direct questioning of Pontrelli revealed.

Pontrelli described the Monday night when Drew Peterson came to her home and said he had not been able to reach Savio for 24 hours. He was trying to drop his children off at Savio's house after a weekend in his custody.

According to Pontrelli's testimony, Peterson and Pontrelli first contacted Savio's boyfriend and then a locksmith to get into Savio's home to check on her. Once inside, Peterson waited downstairs and checked the garage for Savio's car while Pontrelli went upstairs and found Savio dead in her bathtub, her hair soaked in blood.

Peterson then came upstairs and took Savio's pulse, Pontrelli said. At some point in the night, Peterson told Pontrelli he was the beneficiary of Savio's will, Pontrelli said.

Defense attorneys, upon cross-examination, pointed out the Pontrelli had changed the details of her story in various accounts she gave to police, prosecutors, and grand juries. Pontrelli said she could not remember what she told police the night of the incident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul302012

Detroit Brothers to Get New Trial in 1987 Killing

ABC News(DETROIT) -- Two Detroit brothers, convicted of murder 25 years ago, have now been granted a new trial, but a judge Monday declined to release them from prison.

In 1987, Robert Karey, an elderly marijuana dealer, was murdered at the back door of his Detroit home. Two brothers, Raymond and Thomas Highers, both now 46, were convicted of the killing in a three-week trial the following year.

But last Thursday, Circuit Judge Lawrence Talon threw out the convictions and ordered a new trial after a 2009 Facebook post prompted new witnesses to come forward. Two of those witnesses said they saw Karey being shot by two black men at the back door of his house. The Highers brothers are white.

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At a hearing Monday packed with friends and relatives, Talon was expected to release the brothers on bond as they await their new trial.

But he delayed a ruling on their release for two weeks while he seeks a recommendation from pretrial services based on their behavior while in prison. Meanwhile, prosecutors are appealing his decision to overturn the original conviction.

"It's been terrible, absolutely horrible," Scott Highers, Raymond and Thomas's little brother told ABC's Detroit affiliate WXYZ. "We've lost both of our parents. They're deceased. Growing up without your older brothers -- you know, I'm the baby, they're someone to look up to -- I never had the chance to do that."

During their 25 years in prison, the Highers brothers committed several offenses, including drug possession and starting fights.

The key witness in their 1987 trial was Thomas Culberson, a security guard who went to Karey's home to buy marijuana on the night of the murder. Culberson said he saw two white men fleeing the scene in a car, and later identified Raymond Highers as the driver and Thomas Highers as a passenger.

After a former Detroit resident, Kevin Zieleniewski, came across a Facebook post by Mary Evans about the men's life sentences in 2009, he reconnected with a former law school friend, John Hielscher, who told him decades ago that he had been at Karey's that night, and that Karey had been killed by black men, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Hielscher agreed to testify at an evidentiary hearing in March along with his friend James Gianunzio, who was also at Karey's when the shooting happened.

Hielscher and Gianunzio testified that they were at Karey's back door when they saw armed black men approach them and heard a gunshot before they fled, according to the Free Press.

Their testimony raised doubts over whether the Highers brothers were the white men Culberson saw fleeing.

On Thursday, Assistant Prosecutor Ana Quiroz argued in court that there was a conspiracy to free the Highers brothers, and that the new witnesses were not credible, according to the Free Press. Prosecutors argued in the original trial that the Highers brothers, who had bought marijuana from Karey before his murder, killed him in a dispute over money.

Judge Talon set a new hearing date of Aug. 13, when he said he would issue his decision on the brothers' release, WXYZ reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul272012

Dad of Missing Iowa Cousin Postpones Drugs and Battery Trial

ABC News(EVANSDALE, Iowa) -- The father of 10-year-old Lyric Cook, who disappeared while riding bikes with her cousin in Iowa earlier this month, will not be put on trial for separate drug or domestic abuse charges until August, an Iowa judge said Friday.

Daniel Morrissey, 36, appeared in a Waterloo, Iowa, court Friday in relation to four cases in which he is charged with assaulting his estranged wife and Lyric's mother Misty Morrissey, and possessing, making and dealing methamphetamines.

A judge in Iowa's Black Hawk County agreed to delay the trial, according to the Des Moines Register.

Investigators say Lyric Cook and her cousin Elizabeth Collins left their home to ride their bikes shortly after noon July 13. Their bicycles were later recovered on a trail near Meyers Lake in Evansdale, Iowa. Both of their bicycles were recovered on a trail near the lake about four hours after they were reported missing.

Last week the case was reclassified as an abduction.

Misty Morrissey and her husband Dan, the separated parents of Lyric, had stopped answering investigators' questions on the advice of their attorney late last week, although Misty submitted to a second polygraph test Tuesday.

Earlier this week authorities in Iowa investigating the disappearance of the girls obtained new video of the missing girls from the day they vanished. Although the footage of the two girls lasts only seconds, investigators say they now are analyzing it for any clues that could lead to information about the girls

FBI spokeswoman Sandy Breault said Monday that investigators believe the two girls are alive, although she would not offer any details to explain their confidence.

A $50,000 reward is now being offered for information that would lead to their being found.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul192012

George Zimmerman Prosecution May Use TV Interview as Evidence

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- George Zimmerman's television interview in which he said he had few regrets about the night he killed teenager Trayvon Martin has been entered as possible evidence in his upcoming murder trial.

In a wide ranging interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Zimmerman, appearing articulate and calm, said he neither regretted carrying a gun that night nor pursuing the 17-year-old Martin.

"I feel that it was all God's plan," he told Hannity. When asked if there was "anything you might do differently," Zimmerman responded, "No Sir."

Thursday morning the prosecution entered the tape of the interview into discovery and could attempt to admit it as evidence in Zimmerman's trial on charges of second degree murder.

Zimmerman, 28, has maintained that he shot Martin in self-defense after Martin attacked him in Sanford, Fla., on the night of Feb. 26.

Towards the end of the interview, following commercial break, Zimmerman pivoted towards the camera and addressed it directly, saying he misunderstood Hannity's earlier question about whether he had any regrets that night.

"I do wish that there was something, anything I could have done that would have put me in the position that I wouldn't have to take his life," he said.

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Granting the interview will likely haunt Zimmerman, veteran legal analyst and defense attorney Mark Eiglarsh told ABC News. "He has impeached himself publicly, this is going to be a huge problem for him …  and the prosecutors must be extremely pleased. ... He was making inconsistent statements that they can use in a trial against him."

And some are now questioning whether Zimmerman has begun disregarding his attorney's advice.

After his interview with Hannity Thursday, Zimmerman abruptly cancelled an interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters, which his attorney Mark O'Mara had set up.

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Walters said on The View Thursday that she arrived to do the interview Wednesday and found a "stubborn" Zimmerman dressed in a T-shirt and demanding certain conditions from her that she was unwilling to agree to. Walters would not specify what Zimmerman asked for in exchange for the interview, but said that she would never agree to it.

She noted that Zimmerman's attorney had promised her an interview earlier in the week and said Thursday that O'Mara "wanted him to do the interview."

Walters said that it was Zimmerman who reneged on the promise after she flew down to Orlando for the appointment. She said that Zimmerman told her during their conversations that he was in "desperate" need of money, as he had apparently already spent the bulk of the more than $200,000 raised through donations since April.

Minutes after Walters' discussion of Zimmerman on The View, Zimmerman made a surprise phone call to the studio and asked to be put on the air via phone. Walters declined Zimmerman's request and said on air, "Mr. Zimmerman, if you could not do the interview yesterday, I don't think we should do a quick one today. In the future if you feel differently, we will consider it."

Zimmerman also decided to reactivate his fundraising website, TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com in order to raise more money. He created the website in April without telling his attorneys at the time, but later took it down after hiring O'Mara as his lawyer.

A representative for O'Mara said that the attorney had acquiesced to Zimmerman's request to re-launch the website over which Zimmerman would be granted editorial control. It would be primarily used to solicit donations.

Zimmerman has been described as "erratic" and difficult by his former attorneys, who quit after saying that Zimmerman would not listen to their advice.

Attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig said in April that they were withdrawing from the case because they had lost contact with Zimmerman, who refused to answer their calls, texts and emails. Sonner said that Zimmerman had independently been talking to Hannity and calling the Florida State Attorney Angela Corey against his advice.

Zimmerman turned himself into authorities shortly after his attorneys quit, and was subsequently charged. He is now represented by O'Mara.

O'Mara did not return calls for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

Man Acquitted of Beating of Priest He Said Sexually Abused Him

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- William Lynch, the California man who admitted he pummeled a priest who he said abused him as a boy, has been found not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse charges.

The jury of nine men and three women could not reach a verdict on a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault for the 2010 attack at a retirement home.

The jury began deliberations late Monday after hearing impassioned closing arguments from both sides.

The defense's strategy had long been to prove to the jury that the wrong man was on trial. However, prosecutor Vicki Gemetti urged jurors to focus on the assault.

"Two wrongs don't make a right," she said in her closing arguments on Monday.

Lynch's crusade for his own form of personal justice against the priest, Jerry Lindner, drew supporters to the courthouse in San Jose, Calif., during his nearly three-week trial. They carried signs that read "stop clergy sex abuse" and condemned the "pedophile playground" retirement community that is home to Lindner, who has had previous allegations against him.

Lynch testified last Friday that he visited Lindner with the intention of having the aging Jesuit sign a confession, but when the priest "looked up and leered" at Lynch in the same manner he did more than 35 years ago when he sexually abused him, Lynch said he ordered the priest to take off his glasses and hit him.

Lynch passed up a plea deal of one year in jail and instead chose to go to trial to publicly shame the man who he said haunted his memories for 35 years.

On a family camping trip 35 years ago, Lynch said he was brutally raped at age 7 by Lindner and was then forced to perform sex acts on his 4-year-old brother.

The boys kept their painful secret for years, long past the six-year statute of limitations California had in place at the time of the alleged crimes.

Lynch got his wish to see the priest in court, even if the tables were turned. Lindner was forced to testify, but a short time later the Jesuit invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The judge struck his testimony from the record.

During his short time on the stand, Lindner, now 67, told the court he remembered Lynch, but only as the man who attacked him at a Los Gatos, Calif., Jesuit retirement community where the priest has resided since 2001.

Lindner denied molesting Lynch and his younger brother on a camping trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.

Lynch's attorney declared the priest had perjured himself and even prosecutor Vicki Gemetti said in her opening statement that she expected Lindner to lie on the stand or say he didn't remember certain events.

"The evidence will show [Lindner] molested the defendant all those years ago," she said, but urged the jury to focus on Lynch's attack.

Lynch's case of alleged vigilante justice has attracted support from around the world and has shed light on a justice system many view as flawed.

Lynch and his brother were awarded $625,000 after filing a civil suit against Lindner in 1997. The priest was removed from active ministry and was moved to the Jesuit retirement community in 2001.

Lindner was named in two other abuse lawsuits, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul032012

Michigan Grandmother to Be Tried for Shooting Grandson

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich.) -- A 74-year-old Michigan grandmother has been ordered to stand trial for murdering her 17-year-old grandson at her home in West Bloomfield this past May.  Prosecutors say Sandra Layne shot Jonathan Hoffman five times.

Layne’s neighbors say Hoffman lived with his grandparents, and she had feared for her life because he was allegedly using the synthetic drug K2.

Recordings of the teen’s 911 call were played in court on Monday.  

“I’ve just been shot.  My grandma shot me.  I’m going to do die.  Help,” Hoffman is heard yelling.

Layne’s defense attorney, Jerome Sabotta, indicated after the hearing that his client acted in self-defense, saying the 911 tape indicates Hoffman grabbed his grandmother and held her.  

Sabatta says Layne “is in her own hell,” adding, she “killed the person that she loved, that she tried to save.”

Several police officers testified during the hearing, including one officer who said Layne walked out of her home with her hands up and yelled, “I murdered my grandson.”

Most of the family members in court Monday are supportive of Layne, who is being held without bond.  She faces up to life in prison if convicted.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun202012

Jerry Sandusky Lawyers Lean Toward Putting Him on Stand

Rob Carr/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Jerry Sandusky will not take the stand in his child sex abuse trial, ABC News has learned.

(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- Jerry Sandusky's lawyers are leaning toward putting him on the stand in his own defense Wednesday, though the final decision has not yet been made, sources tell ABC News.

Sandusky would be called as the final witness for the defense, which is expected to rest its case on Wednesday. He is expected to deny that he ever had any sexual intent in his "horseplay" with the eight men who say they were sexually abused by him.

Prosecutor Joseph McGettigan, who has aggressively cross-examined defense witnesses this week, will have the opportunity to question Sandusky if they decide to put him on the stand.

Sandusky is charged with 51 counts of child sex abuse and could face life in prison if convicted.

His testimony could be a final chance for the defense, led by attorney Joseph Amendola, to place a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors. The case is expected to go to the jury of seven women and five men following closing arguments on Thursday.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

Jurors Convict Accused Ringleader in Teen Burning Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- Jurors in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tuesday evening convicted 17-year-old Matthew Bent of aggravated battery for his role in the 2009 torching of Michael Brewer, his middle school classmate.

Prosecutors failed to secure a conviction on Bent's second-degree attempted murder charge. Bent would have faced up to 30 years in prison if convicted on that charge. The maximum sentence for aggravated battery is 15 years.

After three days of testimony from Brewer, his parents and several other boys who'd witnessed the attack, a six-person jury in the Broward County Courthouse began deliberations Monday afternoon, but adjourned after three hours without a verdict. Tuesday's deliberations were delayed when jurors said they could not understand what was being said in an audio recording of a conversation between Bent and his alleged accomplices taped by police following their arrest.

At noon on Tuesday, the jury sent a note to Broward County Judge Michael Robinson asking for a transcript of the recording, but Robinson replied that no transcript was available.

Prosecutors argued that Bent was trying to avoid responsibility for the violence by offering others money to hurt Brewer, who was 15 at the time. But defense attorneys claimed that Bent never intended the attack, calling the case an example of "prosecution overkill."

Robinson will sentence Bent on July 23. The prosecution will seek the maximum sentence, and the defense has requested a pre-sentencing investigation.

On Oct. 12, 2009, Bent and two boys, all 15 at the time, surrounded Michael Brewer, their middle school classmate, near an apartment complex in Deerfield Beach, Fla. One boy poured rubbing alcohol on Brewer, and another flicked a lighter, setting Brewer ablaze.

Brewer survived the attack by jumping into a nearby pool, but not before second- and third-degree burns covered nearly two-thirds of his body.

While Bent played no physical role in the attack, the prosecution accused him of orchestrating it in pursuit of cold-blooded revenge against Brewer. In closing arguments, Assistant State Attorney Maria Schneider stressed to the jury the disputes between Bent and Brewer in the day leading up to the attack.

The previous day, Brewer's parents reported Bent to the police for allegedly attempting to steal a family bicycle. Brewer said he stayed home from school on Oct. 12 fearing possible retaliation by Bent, who he testified Thursday was targeting him because he refused to buy drug paraphernalia from Bent.

Denver Jarvis, 17, who is serving eight years in prison for pouring the alcohol on Brewer, testified Wednesday that Bent offered him $5 to do so, Schneider reminded jurors. Other witnesses testified that Bent had offered money to anyone who would beat up Brewer.

Bent's attorneys rested their case Monday morning without calling a single witness and told the court that Bent would not testify in his own defense.

In his closing argument, defense attorney Johnny McCray said Bent "will have scars for the rest of his life" because of the trial, and argued that convicting an "innocent child" would not bring justice for Brewer.

Defense attorney Perry Thurston called the allegation of Bent's offer a fabrication on Friday. The attack happened spontaneously after the boys chanced upon a jug of rubbing alcohol on the street, he said.

Brewer has undergone extensive skin graft surgery and physical therapy since he was attacked. His mother Valerie Brewer testified that her son still requires therapy in order to keep his muscles flexible enough for routine functions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun192012

Sandusky Trial Hears Wife Call Accusers 'Conniving' and 'Clingy'

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- A poised Dottie Sandusky testified Tuesday that she never saw anything sexual occur between her husband Jerry Sandusky and any of the accusers in the sex abuse trial that could send her husband to prison for life.

Dottie Sandusky, who winked at her husband as she took the stand, said in a soft voice that she would be married to Sandusky for "46 years in September," and was the strongest witness called so far by Sandusky's defense lawyer, Joseph Amendola.

In a patient grandmotherly style, she described most of her husband's accusers as "very nice," but remembered some as "conniving" and "very clingy."

Her testimony followed a morning of testimony in which Amendola poked holes in the accounts of two lead investigators and challenged the credibility of the police and the alleged victims.

Dottie Sandusky bluntly denied the accusation of one accuser who told the court last week that during the Alamo Bowl she walked in on her husband trying to force the boy, now known as Victim 4, to perform oral sex on him. He claimed she interrupted her husband by asking, "What's going on in there?"

Mrs. Sandusky's version was quite different.

"I came in one day. It was like a bathroom and dressing area. They were standing there. I said 'what's going on' because Jerry was very upset and we had asked (Victim 4) if he wanted to go to a luncheon which was $50, and he said he'd really like to go. And Jerry said OK, and it was the day of the luncheon and (Victim 4) wouldn't go and Jerry knew I'd be very upset about spending the money."

Dottie Sandusky told the court room that nothing seemed inappropriate about the exchange.

"They were just standing in little hallways, they were fully clothed," she said.

Dottie Sandusky also rejected repeated testimony by the alleged victims that Jerry Sandusky would molest them at night in the family basement, an area they said his wife never went.

Mrs. Sandusky told the jury Tuesday that she and her husband had always shared a bed and that her husband would usually go to bed first. She also testified that she would often go down to the basement to get food out of a freezer there.

In response to the allegation from Victim 10 that he once yelled for help while being sexually abused in the basement while Dottie Sandusky was upstairs, Amendola asked whether someone on the ground floor would be able to hear someone yelling from the basement. "Yes," she responded and added that her hearing was very good.

She also described Victim 4, who testified powerfully about the sex abuse he allegedly endured, as "demanding, and he was very conniving, and he wanted his way and didn't listen a whole lot."

Amendola told Judge John Cleland that the defense "had not yet decided" about another unidentified witness. The prosecution can still call Sandusky to testify on his own behalf, but refused to tell reporters whether Sandusky would take the stand, saying only, "stay tuned."

Sandusky is charged with 51 counts of sex abuse of 10 boys. The jury of seven women and five men is expected to get the case later this week and Sandusky, 68, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Jerry Sandusky Defense Ignores Detailed Accusations

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(BELLEFONTE, Pa.) -- The withering allegations of sex abuse from eight accusers in the Jerry Sandusky trial were largely ignored Monday by Sandusky's legal team as the defense began telling their side of the story.

The defense's first day of testimony ended abruptly only an hour into the afternoon session as Judge John Cleland told the jury that "technical issues" with some of the witnesses would keep court adjourned until Tuesday morning. But he laid out a schedule that indicates Sandusky will offer few witnesses on his behalf.

Cleland would not explain what the problems with the witnesses were Monday, but said only that he expected the defense to rest Wednesday. He said the court would hear a rebuttal from the prosecution on Wednesday afternoon, and told the attorneys to be ready to give closing arguments on Thursday.

The judge informed the jury that they will be sequestered once they begin deliberations.

Sandusky, 68, is charged with 52 counts of molesting 10 boys. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the charges.

Sandusky's lawyers called four people to the stand and all were essentially character witnesses.

Former youth counselor Brett Witmer was called to the stand to counter some of the claims from the man known as Victim 4, who testified that Sandusky took a special interest in him, wrote him letters and made him sign contracts, stalked him from school begging the boy to talk to him, and sexually abused him.

Under questioning by defense attorney Joseph Amendola, Witmer said that he worked with Victim 4 at a youth group program the boy was in during elementary and middle school. He said that the boy told him Sandusky was a big part of his life, and he often saw the two interacting.

"Jerry certainly seemed to be an important part of (Victim 4's) life....He seemed like he had a genuine interest in making sure the kid was moving in the right direction," Witmer, now an elementary school teacher, testified.

He relayed an incident in which Sandusky showed up at the youth center to pick up Victim 4, and the boy did not show. Sandusky and the counselor chatted on the steps of the youth center.

"He said, 'You've got to understand when you're dealing with kids coming from difficult situations sometimes they're not going to want to meet with you, go with you, and other times they're going to want to do fun things and play. You just always have to be there for them,'" Witmer recalled. "Even as I do social work now I keep that in mind."

David Pasquinelli, a former board member for the Second Mile, the charity Sandusky helped create, said that for two years he and Sandusky would take fundraising trips together and got to know each other well.

"I saw a mutual admiration between Second Mile youth, both boys and girls, with Jerry. I saw a lot of goofing around. Jerry had a very unique way, and many of us were inspired by this, how he could relate to youth of all ages and really get to their level and communicate," Pasquinelli said.

In addition, two former Penn State coaches who worked with Sandusky, Richard Anderson and Booker Brooks, were called to testify about a locker room culture where showering with young boys was common. Sandusky is accused of using showers to molest young boys.

"Jerry had a great reputation. He had a wonderful reputation in the community, he was well thought of in every way," Anderson said.

Before the defense began its case, the prosecution presented one last emotional witness.

The mother of Victim 9 testified through tears that she felt responsible for pushing her son to spend time with the coach because "he was Jerry Sandusky. He was an important guy."

The woman said that she never asked her son, who testified last week that he was raped by Sandusky, what exactly happened to him in Sandusky's basement during the sleepovers he said he had every weekend for nearly four years.

On Thursday, Victim 9, who is now 18, said that he was repeatedly forced to perform oral sex on Sandusky and be sodomized by Sandusky in the coach's basement. The testimony followed seven other witnesses who said they were sexually abused by Sandusky.

The mother said that her son called her once from Sandusky's house asking her to pick him up immediately because he was feeling sick. In his testimony Thursday, Victim 9 said he called his mom for help once when Sandusky was sexually abusing him, but did not tell his mother the reason for the call.

Victim 9's mother testified that he suffered medical problems during ages 15, 16, and 17 when he had severe stomach problems and trouble going to the bathroom. She said he also never put his underwear into the laundry, always telling his mother that he had an accident and threw them out.

On Thursday, Amendola questioned Victim 9 about rectal bleeding and stains on his underwear. The boy said his mother never saw stains and that he "just dealt with it."

The trial resumed Monday with a surprising statement from Judge John Cleland saying he had doubts about the strength of the prosecution's case, but at this point in the trial is convinced that there is enough credible evidence that the charges should go to a jury. His comments were made while the jury was out of the courtroom.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio