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STATESVILLE, N.C. -- The jury is deliberating the fate of a former 4th grade teacher accused of molesting his students.

In his final minutes on the witness stand Thursday morning, John Patterson faced stern questions from prosecutor Crystal Beale about the recorded conversation the jury heard on Wednesday between Patterson and his friend.

[The friend said] Will you at least go get help for the problem? And what was your answer? Beale asked.

I'm open to anything if I need help, but I haven't been around kids for years, Patterson said.

Defense attorney Will Willis began his closing argument just after 1 o'clock.

He looked you in the eye and he told you he didn't do it, Willis told the jury. He answered every question that the prosecutor had.

He argued that the accusers left too much doubt for the jury in their stories about what happened, and reminded them that just thinking Patterson is guilty, or believing it's likely still should lead them to a not guilty verdict.

What are kids like at that age? Somebody would say something, Willis said.

The defense wrapped up around 2:00 and Beale took over. She revisited each alleged victim's testimony and tried to put the members of the jury in the mindset of what a 9-year-old boy

would think in those situations.

Don't let this man creep back into the darkness, Beale said. He is guilty of each and every count. Find him guilty.

The jury will continue to deliberate on Friday, until they reach their verdict.

The prosecution says Patterson faces 172 counts of indecent liberties with a child, and one count of first-degree sex offense.
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