TODAY Jerry Sandusky chose to waive his preliminary hearing on child rape charges where, according to the Pennsylvania Code, prosecutors must convince a judge that “an offense has been committed and the defendant has committed it.” Lacking that, the defense can move that charges be dropped.
After they finished waivering, Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s defense attorney, faced the press and cited several reasons for not going forward. I’ve provided the translations.
- Amendola said that accusers are after money. “Many of the alleged victims already have civil attorneys. “What greater motivation could there be to say ‘I’m a victim’ than money?” he said. He said he thinks more accusers could come forward. “How do you decipher credibility when there could be a payday? The Commonwealth has a big job to do,” he said.
Translation: The prosecution indicated it would challenge any attempt we made to undermine the credibility of their witnesses.
- “Having realized McQueary’s credibility was already in grave issue, we decided it made more sense to waive this hearing, work on defense,” he said. “… If we destroy McQueary’s credibility, then we put the credibility of all others involved into question.”
Translation: Eleven witnesses showed up for the preliminary hearing, prepared to testify. Ten of them are victims. McQueary is all we’ve got left.
- Amendola told the Associated Press Monday that his client was “looking forward” to the hearing. After the decision was made Tuesday morning, Amendola added, “There will be no plea negotiations. This is a fight to the death.”
Translation: We’re all for getting any deal we can. Notes the CBS Crimesider Blog: “Although this move was unexpected, Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo said it was not unusual given the strength of the state’s case.”
Getting to the heart of the matter, Jerry Sandusky turns 68 years old in January, 2012. A long drawn out fight may not be in his best interests. Neither will a life sentence. Wes Oliver, an associate law professor at Widener University in Harrisburg, Pa., attended the hearing and told the New York Times that:
“…any plea arrangement would most likely call for a sentence of 12 to 15 years. This would allow accusers to avoid having to testify publicly about being sexually molested, Oliver said, and given Sandusky’s age, might amount to a life term while also giving him some hope of spending his final days outside prison.”
Oliver’s assessment has a practical reality, though the victims may want more. Victim Four, who was set to testify, indicated his distress after the hearing was postponed.
“This is the most difficult time of my life. I can’t put into words how unbearable this has been on my life, both physically and mentally. I can’t believe they put us through this only to waive the hearing.”
“Regardless of the decision to waive the hearing, nothing has changed. I still will stand my ground and testify the truth.”
Translation: Sandusky and his attorney have just blinked.