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Sandusky heads to court hearing on defense claims

Sandusky heads to court hearing on defense claims

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is expected to appear in court Thursday for a hearing about whether his lawyers had enough time to prepare for his child sex abuse trial and other defense claims about the fairness of his proceedings.

The hearing in Bellefonte was scheduled to take up a set of legal challenges filed by Sandusky's lawyers, including their claim that a deluge of prosecution materials swamped the defense.

Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, arrived Wednesday at the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte. He is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence at Greene State Prison in the state's southwest corner, nearly 200 miles away. The 68-year-old maintains his innocence.

Unlike the trial and sentencing, electronics of all kinds will be barred from the courtroom under an order Judge John Cleland issued, citing violations of previous courtroom decorum rules by reporters.

In a recent brief, Sandusky's lawyers said the state Supreme Court has ruled that defense attorneys have to undertake ``reasonable investigations'' or make decisions that those investigations aren't needed.

``Given the vast amount of material the prosecution turned over at the 11th hour, it is clear counsel could not come close to fulfilling this obligation,'' wrote attorneys Joe Amendola and Norris Gelman. ``Counsel had no time to review the aforesaid material in search of persons who could testify to the poor reputation for truthfulness on the part of any of the complainants, any alibi, or any connection between the complainants that would impair their credibility.''

The defense lawyers asked for the hearing to develop that issue with testimony and exhibits as they seek a new trial.

The attorney general's office argued in a brief last week that Sandusky and his attorney knew in 2008 that there had been a report of a sexual assault, there was no breakdown in communication between them, and the case rested on the credibility of the victims.

Sandusky ``identifies not a single act that counsel could have performed or a single piece of information that would have been learned with more time before trial that would have had any impact whatsoever on the jury's consideration of the evidence,'' wrote prosecutor James Barker.

The defense lawyers also are challenging hearsay testimony by a janitorial supervisor who told jurors that a co-worker had seen Sandusky raping a boy known as Victim 8, who has never been identified by authorities. They argue that Cleland should have issued jury instructions on how long it took victims to report their abuse.

And they say some of the charges were so general and nonspecific that they should have been dismissed.

``In this case, the commonwealth established the dates to the extent feasible, given that the events took place over a number of years and involved a number of young victims,'' Barker responded. ``In both the criminal informations and in other materials provided to the defense, the commonwealth narrowed the scope of the timeframe as to each victim and permitted Sandusky to raise his defense.''

Gelman said Sandusky has waived other claims that were brought up in a defense filing made shortly after he was sentenced. Those issues include whether the statute of limitations had run on some of the charges, whether his sentence was excessive and whether jurors should have been sequestered.

The judge can rule from the bench or issue a written decision later, Gelman said.

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3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Quick rematch

Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

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With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

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