Jerry Sandusky's lawyers argue for new trial
BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky emerged from prison to attend a hearing 200 miles away at which his lawyers argued Thursday he deserves a new trial on child molestation charges because they didn't have enough time to prepare for the first one.
The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach played no active role in the proceedings, but briefly greeted his wife and supporters beforehand.
At the hearing in Centre County court in Bellefonte, Sandusky's lawyers cited flaws in the trial, including that they were swamped by about 12,000 pages of documents and other materials, that Judge John Cleland should have instructed jurors about the years it took for victims to report he had abused them, and that hearsay evidence was improperly allowed.
But prosecutors countered by showing most of the documents and records were not relevant to the trial. They also got lead defense attorney Joe Amendola to acknowledge that he did not find any he would have used when he reviewed them after the trial.
"Where's the harm?" the judge asked Sandusky defense lawyer Norris Gelman. "That's where I'm hung up on this one."
Cleland did not indicate when he might rule. If Sandusky does not get a new trial — he is also asking to have charges thrown out entirely — he can then appeal to Superior Court, and has indicated he will.
Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse over a period of several years and is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence at a state prison. He has maintained his innocence, but his arrest tarnished Penn State's vaunted football program and led to the firing of longtime coach Joe Paterno, who died nearly a year ago from lung cancer.
Gelman noted that some of the victims waited more than a decade to disclose their abuse.
"This is a long, long time not to make some kind of report ... and it goes to their credibility," Gelman said.
Prosecutor Frank Fina told Cleland that the issue of "failure to report" by the victims was a major theme during the trial. It was brought up during both parties' opening statements and closing arguments and during cross-examination of the eight victims who testified against Sandusky, he said.
Amendola's performance at trial and his questioning of witnesses are evidence that a fair trial took place even though the case moved from arrest to verdict in about eight months, Fina said.
"He used everything he had to cross-examine these young men," Fina said.
Amendola, who testified Thursday, said the trial's timetable did not permit sufficient investigation into the accusers' backgrounds.
He also described a scramble to cope with a string of pretrial hearings while trying to adequately analyze the discovery materials. At one point, his copier even broke down.
"Did we look at the material? Yes, we glanced over it," he said under questioning by Gelman.
Amendola recounted how he and co-counsel Karl Rominger sought unsuccessfully to be taken off the case, evidence of their frustration over how quickly things were moving.
After the hearing, Gelman compared Sandusky's odds of a new trial to a three-point shot in basketball, while Fina downplayed the defense's chances of success.
"I think the people of Pennsylvania can be confident this conviction is going to stand," Fina told reporters.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Developers share their vision for Garden Theater block on North Side
- Past, present, future WPIAL standouts competing at USA Diving Junior and Senior Nationals
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary
- Muni bond funds stressed
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
- Biertempfel: Players, MLB agree logic of season’s setup needs to be examined
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s banding program a labor of love for avian expert
- Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- Pittsburgh airport improvements noted as CEO tries to expand activity