Sandusky to return to court Thursday to seek new trial

Posted: January 10, 2013

Jerry Sandusky is expected to return to a Bellefonte, Pa., courtroom Thursday for the first time since his sentencing last year for the sexual abuse of 10 boys.

The former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach was transported from his cell at Greene Prison in southwest Pennsylvania on Wednesday to the Centre County Correctional Facility. Meanwhile, his attorneys prepared an argument they hoped would win their client a new trial.

The hearing comes as the impact of Sandusky's conviction continues to reverberate in court battles across the state, ranging from a criminal case against three former Penn State administrators and civil suits from the former coach's victims to a lawsuit filed last week by Gov. Corbett against the NCAA over sanctions imposed in the wake of the scandal.

Sandusky, 68, has maintained his innocence since he was convicted and sentenced to a minimum 30 years in prison in October.

His lawyers have argued in court filings that they were overwhelmed by the bulk of material produced by prosecutors' three-year investigation and never had time to adequately study it in the seven months between their client's arrest and the start of his June trial.

"Counsel had no time to review the aforesaid material in search of persons who could testify to the poor reputation for truthfulness . . . of any complainants, any alibi, or any connection between the complainants that would impair their credibility," lawyer Joseph Amendola wrote in a recent motion.

Amendola has raised the argument numerous times throughout his client's case, unsuccessfully deploying it in earlier attempts to delay the trial, to seek a mistrial, and to influence his client's sentence. Each time, Judge John M. Cleland rejected the complaints.

Should Cleland stand by his earlier rulings, his finding would provide an official decision that could form the basis of further appeals.

Responding to the defense's motions in advance of Thursday's hearing, prosecutors have maintained that Sandusky's defense knew of the investigation from the beginning and maintained constant contact with investigators throughout.

They have failed to identify "a single piece of information that would have been learned with more time before trial that would have had any impact whatsoever on the jury," Chief Deputy Attorney General James Barker wrote.

Sandusky's attorneys are also expected to question Thursday whether hearsay evidence was improperly admitted at trial concerning the account of a former Penn State janitor who said he saw the former coach performing oral sex on a child in a locker room in 2000.

Prosecutors did not call the man to testify because he suffers from dementia. They relied upon testimony from others who heard the janitor's account to secure conviction on charges related to that victim, who was never identified.

Earlier defense arguments for a new trial, including that jurors should have been sequestered and that Sandusky's sentence is unreasonably harsh, have been abandoned, Amendola has said.


Contact Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @jeremyrroebuck on Twitter.

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