Hours into the defense of Jerry Sandusky, trial Judge John Cleland said Monday that lawyers for the former Penn State University assistant football coach would likely rest their case Wednesday and that the case could go to the jury as early as Thursday.
Cleland also told jurors that they would be sequestered at a local hotel during their deliberations if a verdict was not immediately reached.
The judge's announcement set the trial of the 68-year-old coach, charged with 51 counts of child sex abuse, on a course for a possible verdict by the end of the week.
At the current pace, Sandusky's wife, Dottie, could testify as early as today. Some of the alleged victims have testified that they believed she was at home when her husband abused them in the Sandusky home.
Defense lawyer Joseph Amendola had signaled in opening arguments that his client would testify, but it was unclear whether the new court schedule included such a plan.
The developments preceded the appearance of witnesses who spoke in support of Sandusky's past stellar reputation in a community where he helped bring two national football championships to Penn State and where he founded The Second Mile, a charity for at-risk children.
Among the defense witnesses were two former Penn State assistant football coaches.
One of them, Richard Anderson, a longtime friend of Sandusky, said that he recalled seeing the coach in a university locker room shower with a young boy, but that nothing "inappropriate" took place. Anderson said it was "part of my life" to be in locker rooms showering with either fellow coaches or young people after workouts or physical activities. Several of Sandusky's alleged victims have testified that the former coach abused them in university shower rooms.
Before the defense opened its case, the prosecution's last witness, the mother of one of Sandusky's alleged victims, tearfully told jurors that she felt responsible for encouraging her son to visit Sandusky's home. The boy testified last week that he once screamed for help while being abused in the basement of Sandusky's State College home.
The boy said Sandusky's assaults drew blood. His mother testified that her son often returned from Sandusky's home without his underwear. When she asked him about it, she said, her son told her he had an accident and threw the clothing away.
Earlier, Judge Cleland rejected a defense request to dismiss the bulk of the prosecution's case against Sandusky.
Prosecutors dropped one of the 52 counts against Sandusky on Monday because the statute did not exist at the time of the alleged contact.
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