The judge in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case has denied the convicted pedophile’s request for a new trial.
Sandusky’s attorneys sought to have the former Penn State coach’s conviction overturned, arguing they needed more time to prepare for the June trial and that Senior Judge John Cleland erred in not allowing delays.
But Cleland disagreed, ruling Wednesday morning to deny a series of post-trial motions filed by the defense. Cleland said Sandusky wasn’t deprived of a fair trial by the lack of a continuance.
His ruling means Sandusky, 69, will remain in state prison, where he is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence. It could also set the stage for future appeals.
Philadelphia attorney Norris Gelman, who is now representing Sandusky, told The Associated Press that the defense team plans to appeal the ruling to the state Superior Court. Gelman did not return phone calls and emails from the Centre Daily Times.
Sandusky’s appeal focuses largely on trial attorney Joe Amendola’s argument that the defense wasn’t prepared. At a hearing early this month, Amendola testified he didn’t have time time to go through all of the roughly 12,000 pages of discovery and other materials he received leading up to the trial.
But in his ruling Wednesday, Cleland said Amendola failed to show Sandusky’s defense was compromised as a result.
Amendola testified at the appeals hearing that he subsequently found no documents that would have helped during the trial and that many of the papers turned out to be irrelevant.
“As both a matter of fact and of law, I do not think it can be said that either of the defendant’s trial counsel failed to test the prosecution’s case in a meaningful manner,” Cleland wrote in his decision. “The defendant’s attorneys subjected the commonwealth’s witnesses to meaningful and effective cross-examination, presented evidence for the defense and presented both a comprehensive opening statement and a clearly developed closing argument.
“This is simply not a case where trial counsel’s inability to review before trial all of the discovery material produced can be said to have resulted in a “structural defect” that made the lack of a fair trial a virtual certainty,” he said.
Cleland also denied the defense’s request to throw out the counts relating to Victim 8.
The defense had argued that the jury shouldn’t have heard testimony from Ronald Petrosky, a Penn State janitor who in 2000 was told by a fellow janitor about Sandusky in a shower with a young boy. The defense contended that Cleland made a mistake by allowing Petrosky’s hearsay testimony.
Sandusky was convicted on 45 counts of child abuse but has maintained his innocence despite the trial testimony from eight young men who said the former coach molested them when they were children. He remains in solitary confinement in a state prison outside Waynesburg, Greene County.
If Sandusky’s attorneys appeal to the state Superior Court, it is unclear what prosecution team from the Attorney General’s Office would handle the case. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was elected in November, has inherited the Sandusky appeals.
Kane has previously said she will order an internal probe of the Attorney General’s Office investigation into Sandusky.
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.