Sandusky attorneys ask judge to overturn conviction, order new trial

By Jon Campisi | Oct 22, 2012

Attorneys representing former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky are

asking a Pennsylvania judge to overturn Sandusky’s child sex-abuse conviction and grant the defendant a new trial.

In a 30-page, post-sentencing motion filed Oct. 18 at the Centre County Court of Common Pleas, lawyers Joseph Amendola, Karl Rominger and Norris Gelman, a Philadelphia appellate lawyer who just started working with the defense team, argue that Judge John M. Cleland, who oversaw the case against Sandusky, should order a new trial for various reasons.

Part of the attorneys’ argument is that the conviction on various counts against Sandusky went against the weight of the evidence.

The lawyers also argue that some of the criminal charges were beyond the statute of limitations, that the attorneys didn’t have adequate time on which to build a proper defense, and that the judge permitted hearsay testimony at trial.

Sandusky, 69, the former defensive coordinator for the Penn State Nittany Lions, was arrested back in November of last year following a grand jury presentment.

The former assistant coach was convicted on 45 of 48 counts of child molestation following a June jury trial at the Centre County Courthouse.

Sandusky has maintained his innocence throughout the entire case.

He didn’t testify at trial.

In their motion seeking a new trial, Sandusky’s lawyers wrote that as the result of the ongoing receipt of thousands of pages of discovery and other materials, they discovered potential witnesses, potential additional documents and other information that would have required further investigation in order to “adequately prepare” Sandusky’s case for trial.

The attorneys contend the court erred when it denied certain defense motions for continuances.

The filing also states that Sandusky was prejudiced by not being able to utilize certain expert witness testimony due to the potential witnesses’ inability to review thousands of pages of discovery materials given the crunched timeframe.

“Had the Court granted the defendant’s motions for a continuance, the Defendant would have been permitted to present certain psychiatric testimony concerning the characteristics of alleged victims of pedophiles as well as characteristics of a pedophile as a result of legislation which was enacted shortly after the Defendant’s trial concluded …,” the motion states.

The legislation referred to by the defense attorneys had to do with Pennsylvania finally allowing expert witness testimony in rape cases.

Prior to the law’s passage, the commonwealth remained the only state in the nation that prohibited such expert testimony in these types of trials.

Sandusky’s attorneys also wrote that the court erred in denying the defense’s motion to sequester jurors during trial, claiming that the jury members may have been exposed to controversial media reports that came out during the course of the case, including the allegations by Sandusky’s adopted son, Matt, that Sandusky had molested him as well.

That allegation arose in the middle of the trial and was not part of the original criminal counts against Sandusky.

The defense attorneys also wrote that the court erred in denying the defendant’s objection to the prosecutor describing Sandusky as a pedophile and sexual predator during his closing remarks to the jury.

The filling further asserts that the court abused its discretion by sentencing Sandusky to an aggregate period of incarceration of 30 to 60 years by imposing consecutive mandatory sentences as opposed to concurrent ones.

“The Defendant submits the Court’s sentence was excessive and tantamount, as the Court stated at Defendant’s sentencing, to a life sentence which the Defendant submits is in violation of his rights under the Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as applied to the Commonwealth through the Fourteenth Amendment as well as under the due process clause of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the motion states.

The post-sentencing motion came on the same day that “Victim 1,” whose allegations were the basis for the entire case against Sandusky, broke his silence and spoke to the media, publicly identifying himself by name for the first time.

Aaron Fisher, a 19-year-old from Clinton County, Pa., spoke with ABC news in an interview that was expected to air Friday on the program 20/20.

Media reports have said Fisher has also written a book, titled Silent No More: Victim 1’s Fight for Justice Against Jerry Sandusky, which was expected to be released in the coming days.

Fisher said he was 11 years old when he first met Sandusky through The Second Mile, the youth charity founded by Sandusky in the 1970s that is believed to be the place where the former coach met and groomed many of his victims.

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