BELLEFONTE — Jerry Sandusky’s attorney is asking a judge to throw out all 52 counts of child sex abuse against the former defensive coordinator, insisting the state’s allegations are too vague and that the statute of limitations expired on some of them.
“It seems unfathomable that they can’t give us more specific information about when these allegations occurred so we can take a closer look at developing what they call an alibi defense,” Joe Amendola said in an interview Thursday.
If the judge doesn’t drop the case, Amendola wants some of the evidence suppressed — statements to Penn State police in 1998, recorded conversations Sandusky had with police and some of the accusers, items seized from his house. He also asked that the jury be sequestered during the trial, and he said he thinks the judge will grant that.
The requests came in 31 pages of what’s called an omnibus pretrial motion that was filed in Centre County court Thursday afternoon. It’s common procedure for defense attorneys to file the all-encompassing motion before the start of trial.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said prosecutors would review the motions and file a response.
The judge has set April 5 as a tentative hearing for arguments. Amendola said he would expect Sandusky, 68, to be in court for that hearing.
Sandusky remains on house arrest awaiting trial. He maintains his innocence.
The motion to dismiss is the most reaching of all the requests, but Amendola hinted about it last week. He told a judge at a hearing
he’d do that if the prosecution couldn’t provide the defense with specific information about when the alleged abuse happened.
Prosecutors have said they’ve given the defense all that they have.
The allegations of seven of the 10 accusers are “so general and non-specific” that the defense can’t prepare well enough for trial, Amendola said.
As for the other allegations of the other three accusers, Amendola contends there’s not enough evidence to support the charges.
He’s arguing that the only released testimony from Mike McQueary doesn’t support the allegations from the second alleged victim. That’s the boy whose identity prosecutors said remains unknown and who Mc- Queary said he saw in a Penn State shower room with Sandusky in March 2002. McQueary testified he didn’t see them having sex but the episode appeared to be “extremely sexual” in nature.
Amendola said the prosecution won’t be able to show anything sexual took place between Sandusky and the sixth alleged victim, a boy with whom Sandusky showered and was subsequently investigated by Penn State police but not charged.
And lastly, Amendola said prosecutors haven’t identified the boy from a November 2000 shower incident that a janitor purportedly saw. Prosecutors have said that janitor isn’t capable of testifying, and Amendola is arguing the testimony from others who were told about the alleged incident would be hearsay. He said he expects prosecutors to argue an exception to the rule.
Furthermore, Amendola is arguing the statute of limitations has run out for eight of the 10 accusers. He wrote the allegations came from incidents that happened before the statute of limitations was changed on Aug. 27, 2002.
According to the bill of particulars filed by the prosecution, the allegations stem from two blocks of time — from 1996 to 2002 and 2005 to 2009.
Regarding the jury, Amendola wants each potential juror to go individually through the voir dire process — questioning by the attorneys to assess if the juror can be impartial. Typically, it’s done in groups of about 30 people in Centre County.
Jury selection is scheduled to start May 14 and will be composed of Centre County residents. The judge denied prosecutors’ request in February to have an out-of- county jury hear the case.
Amendola is also asking for the jury to be sequestered — put up in a hotel, fed and transported to and from court at the county’s expense. The defense expects a ubiquitous media presence at the trial as well as intense reporting each day.
Sandusky thinks “it will be virtually impossible for jurors hearing his cases to completely avoid hearing any reporting on the trial from outside sources in the absence of jury sequestration,” Amendola wrote.
Amendola thinks the trial will last two weeks, prosecutors say up to a month, and the main courtroom has been reserved through the end of May.
In the motion to delay the start of trial, Amendola wrote that the discovery materials received so far have revealed potential witnesses the defense may want to interview. The defense thinks there are more discovery items yet to come, and they will need time to review them, too.
In addition, Amendola said some people he’d like to call as witnesses won’t be available in May. One he called as an expert and another he described as “critical to (Sandusky’s) defense in regard to certain allegations in his cases.”
Amendola is also asking the judge to suppress several pieces of evidence: items seized at Sandusky’s home in June, statements to police in 1998 and contact with two accusers in 2009 and 2011.
Investigators seized computers, records, CDs and DVDs, photos and other materials from Sandusky’s College Township home on June 21, 2011.
Amendola thinks the investigators didn’t have probable cause to get a search warrant and illegally searched the house because they didn’t announce their identities and intent on being there.
As for the 1998 incident, Amendola is saying that Sandusky wasn’t read his Miranda rights to remain silent and have an attorney present when he was talking to Penn State Detective Ron Schreffler and other police. Police had eavesdropped on a conversation between Sandusky and the mother of the boy and heard him say “I wish I were dead.”
Amendola said Sandusky’s conversation with the first accuser, from Clinton County, around June 25, 2009, was intercepted by investigators. Another conversation, with the alleged victim No. 9, was intercepted around Nov. 9, 2011, four days after the charges were made public.
Amendola said Sandusky and his wife, Dottie, were calling Second Mile participants they thought would help his defense. Amendola thinks the prosecution will introduce other intercepted conversations at trial.
Amendola said the conversations should be thrown out because Sandusky didn’t know he was being recorded, that the accusers didn’t voluntarily consent and that there was no search warrant for them.
Other requests include asking the prosecution to hand over information from the grand jury investigation that might be “alleged misconduct” that hasn’t resulted in charges. Amendola said that shouldn’t be allowed at trial if the prosecution keeps it from the defense.
He is also asking the judge to prohibit the prosecution from introducing at trial evidence the defense asked for but didn’t get.
Earlier this week, a judge ruled that Sandusky will get juvenile arrest records of the accusers and may get psychological reports.
The judge also ordered the prosecution to give Sandusky phone numbers and addresses of the accusers. Amendola said on Thursday once he gets them, he’ll ask the judge to sign an order requiring the phone carrier to provide the phone records. The defense thinks some of the accusers knew each other and were conspiring against Sandusky.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616.