It’s been nearly a year since Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts of child sexual abuse. Today, he’ll find out the extent of his punishment for the acts he was convicted of in June.
Sandusky will speak today at his sentencing hearing at the Centre County Courthouse, his defense attorney Joe Amendola said.
Both the prosecution and the defense met with presiding Judge John Cleland Monday afternoon to discuss the procedures and “flow” of today’s hearing and sentencing, prosecutor Joe McGettigan said.
A hearing to determine whether Sandusky is to be deemed a sexually violent predator will occur at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 1 of the courthouse. Sandusky’s sentencing will occur directly after.
Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted in June on 45 of 48 counts of sexually abusing boys he met through his charity, The Second Mile, which he started in 1977.
McGettigan said up to six of those Sandusky was convicted with abusing may testify today, but nothing will be finalized until the hearing starts.
“It depends how they feel and respond to the moment,” he said.
For the defense, Sandusky will share the statement he has been working on while in prison, Amendola said.
Sandusky’s wife, Dottie Sandusky, as well as other family members and friends, will not speak during the hearing, Amendola said. They submitted letters of support for Sandusky prior to the sentencing, he said.
CNN reported that former assistant offensive line coach Dick Anderson submitted a letter of support on Sandusky’s behalf, but when contacted, Anderson declined comment.
Sandusky maintains his innocence and has remained positive in preparing to appeal his case, Amendola said.
McGettigan said the prosecution does not plan to request a specific amount of years for Sandusky to serve, but defense attorney Karl Rominger said he expects a minimum 30-year sentence, given the charges.
Though Sandusky is set to speak at his sentencing, some attorneys believe it would be a mistake.
State College defense attorney Matt McClenahen said that though Sandusky has nothing to gain by speaking at the hearing, any statement he makes could hurt him in the appeals process.
“Usually, if a defendant addresses court he needs to show remorse, so unless he is willing to apologize, there is no purpose in saying anything,” McClenahen said. “The goal of an appeal is typically to get a new trial, so he could say something at sentencing that might hurt him at a future trial if granted by an appeal.”
State College attorney Robert Donaldson said it wouldn’t be in Sandusky’s best interest to speak at his sentencing, especially in a case where he may be sentenced to a long term.
The defense plans to file post-sentencing motions within 10 days, with appeals focusing on the lack of preparation time for the trial and the validity of witness testimony, Amendola said.
Amendola said he will serve initially as the counsel for Sandusky during his appeal process, but that the defense plans on bringing in an appellate court specialist to aid Amendola and Rominger.
Amendola could not confirm who the specialist would be.
McClenahen said that the people referred to as “Victims” have the opportunity to make their voices heard at a sentencing, whether it be through a “victim impact statement” — a statement written by a person referred to as a “Victim” and given to a judge, but not read aloud at the sentencing — or by actually speaking at the sentencing.
Cleland will also decide today whether Sandusky will serve his sentences consecutively, meaning his sentences will be stacked on top of each other, or concurrent to each other, meaning all sentences will be served at the same time.
McClenahen said that judges may mix what charges would be served consecutively and which can be served concurrent to another.
McClenahen said that the hearing on Sandusky’s status as a sexually violent predator is more symbolic than anything, seeing as how it would only apply to him if he got out of prison, which is nearly impossible.
Donaldson said the hearing would most likely be short, as the person who assessed whether Sandusky is a sexually violent predator will take the stand and be subject to questioning from both sides.
Both Amendola and Rominger have said that they plan to pursue appeals after Sandusky is sentenced, including asking for a new trial, arguing that they weren’t properly prepared for a defense, as previously reported.
Donaldson said that the best chance at a new trial Sandusky’s attorneys have is to trumpet not having enough time to prepare an adequate defense, though it typically isn’t an issue in most cases because it takes so much longer for them to go to trial.
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