One day after former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky waived his right to a preliminary hearing, his attorney explained the move on TODAY.
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“What would’ve happened yesterday is that the media would’ve had a feeding frenzy,’’ attorney Joseph Amendola told Ann Curry Wednesday. “They would’ve heard the worst of the worst of the commonwealth witnesses. We would not have been able to cross-examine them about credibility.
“We had very little to gain, a lot of downside, and what we got in return was a guarantee that unless Jerry Sandusky violates his bail conditions, he’s going to be out of jail, helping me prepare his defense until his trial.’’
After a conversation with the prosecution on Monday night, Amendola and his team determined at 10 p.m. that Sandusky, who faces 52 counts of child sex abuse, would proceed directly to trial. Sandusky’s lawyers were seeking a guarantee that he would not receive a bail increase if he waived his right to a hearing or if further charges were brought against him. It is imperative, Amendola said, that he remains free so he can help them prepare his defense.
“That was a big concession because it’s very vitally important that Jerry stay out of jail,’’ Amendola said.Video: Sandusky vows to fight sex abuse charges (on this page)
Bypassing the hearing led to speculation that a plea deal was in the works. Because Sandusky is 67, and because of the nature of the allegations, a deal would be a life sentence, Amendola said.
“There’s never been any discussions about plea bargains on any side of this case, and I don’t anticipate there will be,’’ Amendola said. “There is no reason for Jerry to even consider a plea. He hasn’t, and I don’t anticipate he will.’’
The decision to waive the hearing and also allow Sandusky to conduct press interviews has raised questions about Amendola's competence as a defender.
“I’m competent to defend him,’’ Amendola told TODAY. “The fact of the matter is that he is facing an uphill battle, which I’ve compared to climbing Mount Everest from the bottom. When these charges were filed in early November, the media and the public convicted Jerry Sandusky before he even had a chance to appear in court. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, he’s still facing a really tough task.’’
An attorney for one of Sandusky’s accusers labeled him a “coward’’ for waiving the hearing. Eleven witnesses, including some alleged victims, were ready to testify against Sandusky Tuesday, according to Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo.
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The announcement that the hearing was waived came at the eleventh hour, Amendola said, because the attorney for the commonwealth was reluctant to call off his witnesses, in case Sandusky reversed his decision.
“The fact that one of the attorneys for one of the accusers indicated that Jerry was a coward is absolutely false,’’ Amendola said. “Jerry Sandusky has always said that he wants to defend himself in this case.’’
Sandusky remains under house arrest after posting $250,000 bail. Several football metaphors have been used to describe his case.
Amendola called it “a fight to the death’’ and “the game of his life’’ on Tuesday. As Sandusky left the court, he told reporters he would “stay the course’’ and “fight for four quarters.’’
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