There is always a twist, a dramatic turn, the unexpected "aha" moment. The attorney and his investigators dig and dig, burn the candle at both ends, melt a lot of ice cubes, and find the smoking gun, the one document, piece of evidence, or witness that saves the defendant's bacon and makes a thriller thrilling.
We read John Grisham, Scott Turow, and Richard North Patterson waiting for those twists, those moments. All are lawyers-turned-authors, and they bring something special to the table. I doubt any of them would touch Jerry Sandusky with a 10-foot pole.
You have to wonder if and when there will be a twist in Sandusky's trial on 52 counts of child sex abuse because so far it has been a rout, both substantively and emotionally.
The former Penn State assistant football coach desperately wanted his day in court, but to what end? Unless there is an "aha" moment lurking in the background, this figures to end just as it started, which is about as ugly as it can get.
I wonder how and why this even came to trial. How can Sandusky put his family through this nauseating testimony? You would think he would prefer to spare his alleged victims the pain of reliving the past, although you could certainly argue he didn't care about any pain he supposedly inflicted on them during that past. Maybe, for him, sitting through this is like leafing through pages of a sick scrapbook.
The American justice system, of course, is based on innocence until proof of guilt in a courtroom. But we all know there are crimes that carry with them such a stench that the presumption of guilt exists from the start. Sex with minors is right up there.
The prosecutor, in his opening statement, called Sandusky a "predatory pedophile," and the alleged victims have left very little to the imagination in telling their stories at the county courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. There are inconsistencies in some accounts and timelines, but these are confused adults who were once confused children, some of whom locked and repressed these memories, who probably blamed themselves, which is part of the exploitation by predators.
The best the defense can do, it seems, is question the motivation of the witnesses, making them out to be mercenaries who are making up or embellishing stories with a payday in mind. Cracking the testimony of assistant coach Mike McQueary, exploiting some weaknesses, and attacking his actions in the aftermath of supposedly witnessing an incident in the football building, figured to be the defense's best shot at reversing the piling on, but they didn't even give it a good college try.
It is presumed Sandusky will take the stand because other than a personality disorder defense -- a real shocker, eh? -- it's about all they have. For the ex-coach's sake, here's hoping he has been coached up better than in one of his previous public comments.
"Are you sexually attracted to young boys?" Bob Costas of NBC asked him in a telephone interview that was replayed for the jury Thursday.
Now, this is basically a yes or no question. You say yes if you don't mind burning in hell. Otherwise, you say no, and you say it emphatically and immediately.
Sandusky hesitated. And then he rambled and stammered and came across as dopier than ever and eventually got around to saying "no."
As those words tumbled from his lips, Happy Valley, a powerful university, its administration, and its iconic football program began to crumble around Sandusky and much of America arrived at its verdict.
I would guess it's going to take a helluva twist for this jury to figure otherwise.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: email@example.com or 419-724-6398.