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Judge denied Sandusky lawyers' request to resign

By Mark Scolforo

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, June 23 2012 3:01 p.m. MDT

In this courtroom sketch, Judge John Cleland, right, listens as Joseph McGettigan III, Pennsylvania senior deputy attorney general, second from right, and Frank Fina, Pennsylvania chief deputy attorney general, third from right, re-create the testimony of Penn State assistant football coach on leave, Mike McQueary, for the jury, seated at left, during the child sexual abuse trial of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Friday, June 22, 2012. The jury is in its second day of deliberations.

Aggie Kenny, Associated Press

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky's lawyers said Saturday they asked to resign from his child sex abuse case on the eve of trial but the judge turned them down.

Karl Rominger and Joe Amendola said that as jury selection began they made a sealed motion saying they had not been given enough time to adequately prepare but Judge John Cleland ruled against them after discussion in his chambers.

"We told the trial court, the Superior Court and the Supreme Court we were not prepared to proceed to trial in June due to numerous issues, and we asked to withdraw from the case for those reasons," Amendola said.

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted Friday on dozens of child sexual abuse charges. His lawyers had said a delay was needed because a key member of the defense team had a scheduling conflict and a lengthy grand jury investigation had inundated them with documents and other materials.

Legal experts say the seven months between Sandusky's arrest and trial on such serious charges is a fast pace by Pennsylvania standards.

Rominger also said Saturday that prosecutors told him on June 14, during the trial's first week, that they obtained a tape of the allegations made by adopted son Matt Sandusky that he also was a victim of abuse by Sandusky. Rominger declined to comment on the details of those allegations but said calling him to the stand might have prompted a mistrial.

He said Matt Sandusky had been expected to be an important witness for the defense, and when such a defense witness becomes a prosecution witness, that can result in a mistrial. The Matt Sandusky evidence and potential testimony was why the prosecution's case was held open during a surprising day off from the trial on June 15 and did not rest until Monday, he said.

Rominger said the lawyers did request a mistrial over the playing in court of a videotaped interview of their client by NBC's Bob Costas because it repeated a brief but significant section while Sandusky was speaking. Rominger said the judge denied the mistrial request, ordered it could not be played again and instead provided jurors with a written transcript.

Jurors in the two-week trial convicted Sandusky of 45 of the 48 counts against him. Mandatory minimums mean Sandusky, 68, likely will die in prison.

One of the jurors on Saturday said the credibility of the accusers who testified they were Sandusky's victims solidified the prosecution's case.

"It's hard to judge character on the stand because you don't know these kids," Joshua Harper told NBC's "Today" show. "But most were very credible — I would say all."

He added: "It was very convincing."

At the State College home of one juror, a retired soil sciences professor, his wife declined to comment. A mile away, a man said another juror, a dance teacher, was tired of discussing the case but might comment if she senses other jurors are speaking about their experiences.

After a swift trial and less than two days of deliberations, the jurors found Sandusky guilty on Friday, drawing raucous cheers from hundreds of onlookers outside the courthouse.

Sandusky's own impassivity as the verdict was read was a confirmation that the jury's decision was the right one, Harper said.

"I looked at him during the reading of the verdict and just the look on his face. No real emotion," he said.

Sandusky appeared to be accepting his fate, Harper said, "because he knew it was true."

The verdict is not the end of the scandal, which took down legendary head coach Joe Paterno and deeply shook the state's most prominent university. It will play out for years in courtrooms and through a set of ongoing investigations.

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