Sandusky Seeks State College-Area Jury for Trial
Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer filed court paperwork Wednesday arguing that jurors in his child sex abuse trial should be chosen from the community where he lives and suggesting that a trial delay might be the best way to address the intense publicity generated by the case.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola wrote that the former Penn State assistant football coach is opposed to a request by the state attorney general’s office to bring in out-of-county jurors, saying publicity about Sandusky’s case has been so pervasive that jurors from other counties will also have been saturated with news coverage.
Sandusky “believes selecting jurors from a county outside Centre County will involve the same difficulties that the parties and the court will face in selecting a Centre County jury, and the jurors from any other county in Pennsylvania will face the same challenges and conflicts in being fair and impartial,” a defense filing stated.
The attorney general’s office asked for an out-of-county jury last week, calling news coverage of Sandusky’s arrest “spectacular in its breadth and intensity.”
Prosecutors said in that motion that people who live near Penn State might not be able to “insulate themselves” from the school and would face “a Gordian knot of conscious and even subconscious conflicts and difficulties.”
“It would put potential jurors in that county in an extremely difficult if not impossible position, and that is something that does not exist in the same degree in any other county in Pennsylvania,” Nils Frederiksen, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said Wednesday.
Frederiksen said the court’s deadline to ask that the trial be held outside Centre County has passed without either side making such a request.
Amendola said one solution might be to delay the trial, letting the news coverage “subside” and giving the judge time to determine how to proceed. Amendola said in an email Wednesday that he planned to discuss the idea with prosecutors “to see how everyone feels about it in light of all the media coverage.”
Frederiksen declined to comment Wednesday on a potential delay. Amendola also filed a response in opposition to a request prosecutors made Tuesday to have Sandusky’s bail conditions amended so that he would not be permitted outside his home except for medical treatment. Prosecutors said neighbors have raised safety concerns and reported seeing Sandusky watch children on the school playground adjacent to his backyard.
Sandusky “denies that anyone is at risk in his neighborhood or any adjourning neighborhoods and that any fears on the part of any of his neighbors about their safety or the safety of others is totally unfounded,” Amendola wrote.
A court hearing is scheduled for Friday in Bellefonte on various pretrial issues, including a request by Sandusky that his bail conditions be loosened so he can have contact with his grandchildren and others. Amendola said Sandusky was likely to be in court for the proceeding.
Also Wednesday, Amendola said he received correspondence from the Centre County Department of Children and Youth Services that said two recent cases involving abuse allegations against Sandusky were deemed to be unfounded. That development was first reported by The Patriot-News of Harrisburg.
Amendola had disclosed the two new claims in November. He said one stemmed from a family dispute and the other was a matter of people trying to mimic other allegations.
The sex abuse case led Penn State’s board of trustees to oust Joe Paterno as head football coach and Graham Spanier as university president. Paterno died last month of lung cancer.
When Sandusky was arrested in November, two senior school administrators were charged with lying to the grand jury investigating Sandusky and failing to properly report suspected abuse.
Athletic Director Tim Curley has since been placed on administrative leave, and Vice President Gary Schultz, who was in charge of the university’s police department, stepped down. They also maintain their innocence.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)