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Video: Sandusky attorney: No plea deal in works

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    >>> joseph amendola is the attorney for jerry sandusky . mr. amendola , good morning.

    >> good morning, ann .

    >> is a plea bargain in the works, yes or no?

    >> no. there's never been any discussions about plea bargains on either side of this case. and i don't anticipate there will be, ann . any sort of plea bargain that might be in the works would involve essentially a life sentence for jerry sandusky , given the nature of the allegations and the fact that he's 67. jerry sandusky has maintained his innocence from the allegations brought by accuser number one three years ago, and he's maintained his innocence with regard to all of these allegations since then. there would be no reason for jerry to even consider a plea. he hasn't. and i don't anticipate he will.

    >> all right. then let me ask you a pretty tough question that has been raised by experts in your own profession. in light of your decision to waive the preliminary hearing yesterday, and also your decision to allow your client to speak to the press, not once, but more than once. and the question is pretty tough. it is, mr. amendola , are you competent to defend jerry sandusky against these charges?

    >> well, i'm competent to defend him. but the fact of the matter is, ann , that he's facing an uphill battle, which i compare to climbing mt. everest from the bottom. i think we have a defense, but as you know, when these charges were first filed in early november , the media and the public convicted jerry sandusky before he even had a chance to appear in court. and unfortunately, despite our efforts, he is still facing a really tough task. so as far as competency is concerned, i have absolutely no doubt in my mind that we can give jerry the best defense possible. but the fact still remains , he's facing a really, really big challenge in overcoming the allegations.

    >> why wouldn't you have known that you could not question in the preliminary hearing that you waived the right to yesterday -- you could not have questioned the accusers on credibility. why would you have not known that until the 11th hour? did you do your homework on that, sir?

    >> oh, my goodness, i've known that for years. that's a basic fundamental principle, ann ?

    >> why did you wait? why did you wait until the 11th hour?

    >> first of all, let me clarify something. credibility is never an issue at a preliminary hearing . that wasn't something we discovered yesterday or the day before. we waived for a very simple reason. the night before the commonwealth attorney contacted me to talk about the preliminary hearing details. in that conversation, he indicated that he was going to request following the hearing an increase in bail. and if there were any additional charges filed between yesterday and the time of trial, he would request additional bail. it's very important to me, as jerry 's attorney, and very important to jerry , that he remain out on bail, so he can properly assist us and the defense team in the preparation of his defense. the commonwealth attorney said he would not request a bail increase, and the current charges or any additional charges if jerry waived his preliminary hearing . that was a big concession. because it's very vitally important jerry stay out of jail. that conversation took place on the eve of the preliminary hearing at about 7:00. we then had a meeting. we then memorialized that meeting, and based upon that meeting at about 10:00 on monday night, we agreed to waive the hearing. the commonwealth attorney knew that. i advised him he could call off his witnesses, he was reluctant to do so because it was a fact that jerry could have come into court and decided to have a hearing anyway. so the witnesses came to court, and the fact that one of the attorneys for one of the accusers indicated that jerry was a coward is absolutely false. jerry sandusky has always said he wants to defend these charges. he wants to defend himself in this case. all that would have happened yesterday, ann , is that the media would have had a feeding frenzy. they would have heard the worst of the worst from the commonwealth witnesses. we would not have been able to kris examine them about credibility. everyone in the legal profession that does criminal defense work or prosecution work knows that. so we had very little to gain, a lot of down side. 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.

    >> obviously that's still to come. joseph amendola , thank you so much for joining us this morning and giving us your

TODAY contributor
updated 12/14/2011 9:05:17 AM ET 2011-12-14T14:05:17

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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Video: Sandusky attorney: No plea deal in works (on this page)

“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.

Story: Sandusky vows to 'fight for four quarters'

“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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