Sandusky waives right to preliminary hearing
The small town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania was not built for this kind of event. Police stationed all around the courthouse, a police escort and a throng of media reporters and photographers staked out since three o’clock in the morning.
This is the day Jerry Sandusky entered court for his preliminary hearing. Sandusky, charged with 52 separate criminal charges of alleged sexual abuse of children. In all, 10 victims have been confirmed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office in a time span ranging from 1994 to 2009.
Sandusky arrived to the courthouse at 7:51 a.m. holding his wife’s hand. Dottie Sandusky has spoken out publicly claiming her husband’s innocence and calling the accusers liars. The Sandusky’s were escorted by heavy police protection, with two police cars escorting the couple, riding in attorney Joe Amendola‘s SUV, to the court. A mere 37 minutes later, the court opened the long-awaited and highly scrutinized trial.
As court opened, it quickly ended with Sandusky waiving his right to a preliminary hearing after vehemently declaring his innocence for the past month.
“We fully intend to put together the best possible defense and stay the course for four full quarters,” Sandusky said as he exited the court. Amendola followed up by saying they intend to fight a fair case and said “We could not do that today.”
Michael Bonni, counsel for Victim 1, said his client would “certainly like justice to be served in a way that is least stressful,” for him, suggesting that if he could avoid having to testify it would be ideal for his client. According to Bonni, his client was ready to testify during the preliminary hearing if called to the stand. Mark Costanzo, assistant to the Attorney General, said that as many as 11 victims were ready to testify on Tuesday and suggests that Sandusky’s decision to waive the preliminary hearing will help the prosecution’s case move forward.
“We don’t get disappointed over things like this,” said Costanzo. “He has rights and he has the right to waive those rights.” Costanzo confirmed that the victims will not be required to testify in the trial of Sandusky and that an arraignment is scheduled for January 11, 2012. Sandusky’s current bail conditions, which include house arrest, will remain.
Amendola later confirmed that Sandusky will go to trial, and that his client had requested a jury trial. The defense attorney then addressed the media for about an hour outside the courthouse in an attempt to answer as many questions as possible. In his press conference Amendola suggested that Sandusky’s image has already been spun by the media and that he just wants his client to receive a fair trial of his peers. The decision to waive the preliminary hearing was made Monday night after much deliberation because they would not have an opportunity to state their case or defend their client in what they perceived to be a fair way.
“I don’t want to be here,” Amendola said when questioned if he was putting his own best interests in front of his clients. “To put Jerry in a position to find a new legal counsel at such a late point would be unfair,” Amendola explained. Amendola even suggested on multiple occasions that money could be a great motivator for those who have accused Sandusky and have prepared to file civil suits against Penn State.
Amendola even reiterated the importance of going after Mike McQueary, considered a key witness in the prosecution’s case. With reports that McQueary having changed his story on his role in the case, the defense will hope to exploit a potential hole in the attorney general’s argument, which to this point has referred to the assistant coaching staff member as a credible witness to the alleged sexual abuse conducted by Sandusky.
Amendola says he and his team are ready for what could be a lengthy legal process.
“We have a lot of work to do. We have an uphill battle, but we’re going to continue to get to the top.”
On January 11, 2012 Sandusky will be formally arraigned for trial, although Amendola said that his client would not be on hand for the January 11 court date. Pennsylvania does not require a defendant to show up for the arraignment. Amendola explained that the January 11 court date would be used to begin a legal process with seven days to prepare for the trial.
On Friday the trial process for former Penn State Athletics Director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz is scheduled to begin. Amendola said that Sandusky is not expected to testify in the trial for perjury by the two former Penn State officials. Amendola said he did not believe that Curley or Schultz had permitted perjury during the grand jury investigation.
Also posted on Examiner.com.
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