Closings & Delays

Jerry Sandusky files petition to appeal 45-count child sex abuse conviction

BELLEFONTE, PA - AUGUST 12: Jerry Sandusky enters the Centre County Courthouse to appeal his child sex abuse conviction on August 12, 2016 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Sandusky was facing a prison sentence for his conviction in June, 2012 on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, including while he was the defensive coordinator for the Penn State college football team. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

A petition was filed Tuesday by Jerry Sandusky and his lawyers to appeal the former Penn State football coach’s 45-count child sexual abuse conviction.

Sandusky, 75, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in state prison in June 2012 for those convictions, but in February, the state’s Superior Court ordered that he be resentenced due to improper application of mandatory minimums. He’s set to be resentenced November 8.

The petition, filed the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, asks for relief of sentencing or a new trial and lists three grounds as to why.

The first claims that the state violated Sandusky’s right to remain silent when the prosecutor called attention to his decision not to testify at trial during the closing argument. Sandusky’s counsel at the time objected to it but was overruled by the judge. In the petition, he deemed his counsel ineffective because they didn’t move for a mistrial, request stronger instruction or object to inadequate instruction when the judge did not instruct the jury to disregard the argument or advise that the jury should not draw inference from Sandusky’s exercise of his rights.

The second ground pertains to the trial court’s denial of continuance of trial, which according to the petition, violated Sandusky’s rights to due process.

The trial took place eight months after charges were filed against Sandusky. And prior to that, Sandusky’s counsel requested continuance as they were not and could not be properly prepared. The petition says that five months prior to the trial day, the state delivered hundreds thousands of pages of documents and material secured by subpoena as well as hundreds of pages of grand jury testimony.

Counsel’s concerns were advanced and trial recognized that counsel “probably” couldn’t review all the material but the court denied the continuance after a hearing a week before trial.

The third ground rendered Sandusky’s attorneys ineffective for a number of reasons, including having him participate in a televised interview in which he wasn’t prepared for, failing to object to two jurors who couldn’t say confidently that they could put aside what they had heard about Sandusky and could make a decision solely on evidence, and failing to object to what the petition calls “highly prejudicial and inadmissible opinion testimony” from a Children and Youth Services case worker.

The petition also claims that Sandusky’s counsel presented expert testimony from a psychologist that wasn’t helpful to the defense and advised him not to take the witness stand, contrary to the plan and, according to the petition, “after promising the jury in his opening statement that (he) would testify.”

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