A preliminary hearing is meant for the judge to determine probable cause. Despite that being very likely, locking in victim testimony under oath would have provided an advantage for the defense, which could then wield it against the alleged victims in a trial, says Andrew Pollis, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland.
The hearing provides “a window into what the prosecution’s evidence is, and it helps you prepare for trial so you can refute certain things later,” Mr. Pollis says. “The advantage of a preliminary hearing becomes moot if [Sandusky] is going to plea.”
The advantage of a plea deal for the defense is that Sandusky would receive a lesser sentence than what he would likely receive from a jury trial. In this scenario, the recommended sentence is negotiated between the prosecution and the defense, although the judge is not required to accept it.
Further evidence a plea may be imminent is the bravado of Sandusky’s legal team, which is already suggesting the victims are scheming for financial gain.
They also say that they will make Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary the key component of their case were it to go to trial. Mr. McQueary told a grand jury he witnessed Sandusky raping what looked to be a 10-year-old boy in 2002. The defense says McQueary is vulnerable because of inconsistencies in recent statements he made when compared with his original testimony.
The claim by Sandusky lead attorney Joe Amendola that the victims will be “aggressively investigated” to see if there is collusion is seen by some legal experts as a possible move to dissuade prosecutors to go to trial.
“We’re attacking these cases one at a time.… What better motivation can there be than money?” Mr. Amendola said outside the courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Tuesday. Amendola said also “there will be no plea deal” and characterized his team as engaged in “a fight to the death.”