Nightly News | December 13, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: This was the day a whole lot of people in a traumatized community have been waiting for, and it came to a sudden and screeching halt today. It was all over in about two minutes. As one mother put it, a disappointment for several young men who had gotten up very early on a frigid day to come to court and face Jerry Sandusky , the former assistant coach at Penn State who they now accuse of molesting them. NBC 's Michael Isikoff was in court for what was supposed to be Sandusky 's preliminary hearing .
MICHAEL ISIKOFF reporting: Jerry Sandusky arrived at the courthouse with wife, Dottie , and escorted by local police and sheriff's deputies.
Offscreen Voice: Mr. Sandusky , how do you feel about the opportunity to face your accusers, sir? Are you looking forward to it?
ISIKOFF: But then a courtroom surprise. Defense lawyer Joe Amendola asked the judge for a side bar, and Judge Robert Scott announced Sandusky was waiving his right to a preliminary hearing . There would be no testimony today.
Mr. JERRY SANDUSKY: We fully intend to put together the best possible defense that we can do. To stay the course, to fight for four quarters. And we await the opportunity to present our side.
ISIKOFF: Prosecutors were prepared to call 11 witnesses, many of them alleged victims in what promised to be explosive testimony laying out the state's case in detail for the first time . One potential witness, Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary , whose claim that he reported seeing Sandusky sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in 2002 has been disputed by other witnesses. But last night, Amendola decided to waive the hearing after, he says, prosecutors warned him they would try to limit his ability to challenge the credibility of witnesses during cross-examination.
Mr. JOSEPH AMENDOLA (Sandusky's Attorney): This is a fight to the death. This is the fight of Jerry Sandusky 's life. This goes beyond the Penn State - Miami game in '86. This is the -- this is the game of his life.
ISIKOFF: NBC News chief legal analyst Savannah Guthrie :
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE reporting: You know, it's really a trade-off. On the one hand, the defense loses the opportunity to assess the accusers' credibility in court, their demeanor. But at the same time, they now have avoided days upon days potentially of bad publicity.
ISIKOFF: The postponement was most painful for Sandusky 's alleged victims.
Mr. KEN SUGGS (Lawyer for Alleged Victim Number Six): He's a coward for not showing up and facing them today. And once they were prepared and gone through the wrenching gut check of getting ready to do this, depriving them of the chance to tell their story to his face.
ISIKOFF: But they'll get another chance if there's no plea deal and this case goes to trial. Michael Isikoff , NBC News, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
WILLIAMS: Up here next tonight, there's something you should know about those plans to cut back