BELLEFONTE, CENTRE COUNTY—Today begins day two of jury selection in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial. Yesterday, nine jurors were chosen with today focusing on trying to solidify the rest of the panel.
The magic number is 16. Twelve jurors and four alternates are needed to get this trial started. Yesterday was a huge step towards getting to that number. Attorneys and the judge agreed on nine jurors, while at the same time, releasing some of the potential witnesses who could testify at the trial.
Jerry Sandusky made a familiar walk to the Centre County Courthouse yesterday as he prepared to face 220 of his peers as jury selection in his child sex abuse trial begins. "The jury has a big responsibility to find justice," said court reporter Mike Dawson.
A busy day of questioning on Tuesday turned up nine jurors. The jurors include five men and four women, many with ties to the Penn State community. From a current Penn State student to a retired professor, the jurors reflecting the small town feel of Centre County.
"People have read something, heard something and in fact, one in three individuals is in some way connected to Penn State," said legal analyst Steven Breit.
But Judge John Cleland is not worried about what the jurors have heard. Court reporters say the judge told the group, he is looking for people that can make a fair and impartial judgement based on fact. "Nobody in the world will know as much as the people sitting in that jury box," said courtroom reporter Jim Parsons.
At one point, defense attorney Joe Amendola even tried to strike a juror because she had ties to key witness Mike McQueary and his father. But the judge intervened allowing the witness to stand. Legal analyst Steven Breit says people will have to trust the system at work.
"Our jury system is based on trust and the courts must trust that the jurors will follow their instructions. When it comes time not to trust the jurors, that`s when our jury system fails," Breit said.
The court also announced a potential witness list for the trial. The defense can potentially call five dozen witnesses including Jay and Sue Paterno and Mike McQueary and his father. The prosecution's list is about two dozen. Many expect jury selection to be wrapped up by as early today with testimony scheduled to start on Monday.
Here is a quick look at some of the nine jurors.
Juror number four is a middle aged engineer from State College with no ties to Penn State. He told the judge he stopped reading and watching coverage of the Sandusky case about two and a half months ago.
Juror five teaches chemistry at Bellefonte Area High School. He's in his mid-30's and has three kids.
Juror seven is a senior at Penn State. He played football for Clinton County High School. He has strong ties to the case with his former high school coach mentioned in the grand jury report that investigated the allegations against Sandusky.