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Defense abruptly rests without calling Jerry Sandusky

Jerry Sandusky was expected to take the stand Wednesday, but his defense team — who suggested that Sandusky's accusers were motivated by money — had a different strategy. NBC News' John Yang reports from Bellefonte, Pa.

Updated at 6:55 p.m ET: Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky abruptly rested their case Wednesday morning without calling the former Penn State University assistant football coach to the stand.

Kimberly Kaplan of NBC News reported from Bellefonte, Pa. M. Alex Johnson is a reporter for msnbc.com. Follow M. Alex Johnson on Twitter and Facebook.

It was an unexpected end to the defense phase of Sandusky's trial on 51 counts alleging that he abused 10 boys over 15 years.

Without explanation, defense attorneys requested a recess during testimony from one of their own witnesses. Then — after an unusually long break during ,which both legal teams joined the judge in his chambers amid speculation over whether Sandusky would take the risky step of testifying — defense attorneys said they were done.

The prosecution offered no rebuttal witnesses. Court was adjourned until Thursday morning, when closing arguments were scheduled.

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The defense decision came after the witness, David Hilton, 21, reacted with surprise when he was asked whether he knew that his uncle had called the defense team Tuesday night. Sandusky attorney Karl Rominger then asked for a recess.

Hilton was testifying that he spent a lot of time with Sandusky as a youth. He said he spent many nights at the Sanduskys' home but that nothing inappropriate ever happened.

It wasn't the only surprise on the seventh day of Sandusky's trial in Bellefonte, Pa. Judge John Cleland announced as court opened that one of the jurors had taken ill and was being replaced by an alternate.

Then, he announced that lawyers for both sides had agreed to stipulate that the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who broke the Sandusky story had helped the mother of one of Sandusky's alleged victims find an investigator. The defense contends that investigators and journalists in Pennsylvania started with the premise that Sandusky was guilty of abusing young boys and ignored evidence of his innocence.

The reporter, Sara Ganim of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, who broke the news that a grand jury was investigating Sandusky, was called under subpoena by the defense. The newspaper sought to quash the subpoena, citing Ganim's right to protect her sources, but Cleland turned down the motion.

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After a conference at the bench at which lawyers for the newspaper sought to keep her off the stand, Cleland told jurors that Ganim had been called to answer questions about whether, "prior to charges being filed in the case, she contacted the mother of an alleged victim and provided her with contact information for an investigator in this case."

Cleland said the legal teams had stipulated that "the answer would be yes."

Ganim remained in the courtroom, where she could be heard vigorously disagreeing with the stipulation agreement between the prosecution and defense teams.

Ganim later told her newspaper: "For the record, I would not have answered yes to that question. I would have declined to comment under the Pennsylvania Shield Law.''

The revelation that Ganim — who won widespread acclaim and journalism's highest honor for her pursuit of the Sandusky allegations — may have interjected herself into the story as a participant goes to the heart of one of the defense's primary arguments: that Sandusky was being steamrollered by institutional forces oblivious to evidence that he might not be guilty.

"There are a lot of forces at work pushing this forward," Sandusky attorney Joseph Amendola told Cleland during the subpoena arguments Tuesday.

The defense has already demonstrated, through testimony and audio of a police interview with one of the alleged victims, that investigators at times told potential witnesses that there were other victims in the case, which the defense contends tainted their testimony.

Jurors also heard from Jonathan Dranov, a friend of the family of Michael McQueary, the former Penn State assistant coach who testified last week that he saw Sandusky in a football locker room shower with a young boy.

McQueary testified said he didn't explicitly see any intercourse, but he said he had "no doubt" that it was occurring because of the relative positions of Sandusky and the boy and the sounds they were making.

Dranov said he was present at a conversation at which McQueary recounted the alleged incident, concurring that McQueary didn't describe having directly seen any sex act.

"I kept saying, ‘What did you see?'" Dranov testified. "Each time, he would come back to the sounds. It just seemed to make him more upset, so I backed off that."

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