BELLEFONTE — The jury in the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky began deliberating at about 1:15 this afternoon.
"You sit here as the legal conscience of the community," Senior Judge John Cleland told the jurors.
He gave them some final instructions and excused one of the alternates. Two of the alternates will be sequestered with the rest of the jurors in case they are needed.
"The schedule of your deliberations is essentially your own," Cleland said.
Until a verdict is reached, he said, they will be sequestered, which means no cellphone, telephone, laptop computers or any kind of electronic devices. The televisions and telephones in their hotel rooms will be turned off.
The jury took a dinner break from 6 to 7 p.m. and then resumed deliberating.
It is up to them to decide whether Sandusky has violated the law.
"That decision is now in your hand, and we will await your verdict," Cleland said, before having them escorted out of the courtroom.
Cleland told jurors earlier in the day that while some behavior — including oral sex between a man and a boy — is obviously a crime, other behavior is more ambiguous.
Showering with a boy, for example, is not necessarily a crime. That was part of Cleland's message during instructions to the jury this morning.
"You may believe he exercised poor judgment. But poor judgment does not in and of itself amount to criminality," Cleland told jurors this morning.
Jurors appeared to listen carefully as Cleland spoke for about 40 minutes, giving them instructions for how they should go about arriving at their decisions. Sandusky is facing 48 criminal counts for the alleged sexual abuse of boys.
That is three fewer than he had been facing on Wednesday. Cleland dismissed two felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and one count of aggravated indecent assault related to alleged victim No. 4 with prejudice, meaning prosecutors can't refile the charges.
One of the involuntary deviate sexual intercourse counts was a duplicate, Cleland wrote in an order.
As for the other two charges, Cleland wrote that he dismissed them because no testimony was presented that showed evidence that Sandusky performed anal sex or digital penetration on alleged victim No. 4. Cleland said the man's testimony was that Sandusky "attempted" that.
Cleland denied the prosecution's request to file attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges.
Cleland also denied the defense's request to dismiss counts related to alleged victim No. 8, an unidentified boy in a shower who a janitor testified Sandusky was performing oral sex on.
Cleland said jurors must decide whether Jerry Sandusky had criminal intent and sexual desire when he committed the alleged acts.
"The issue is not what the child felt. The issue is what the defendant intended," Cleland said.
Cleland told jurors they can find Sandusky guilty on all counts, not guilty of the counts or guilty of some of them.
He gave them a broad overview of their duties, and reviewed what they need to consider when reaching their verdict on each of the charges.
The verdict, he said, must come from their own, conscientious decision.
"We all rely on your integrity and your good judgment," he said.
Secondly, he said, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The state does not have to eliminate all doubt, just reasonable doubt.
"We make few decisions in life that are free from all doubt," Cleland said.
Reporter Mike Dawson contributed to this report