January 10, 2012

What to expect: Joran van der Sloot back in court Wednesday

Posted: 06:54 PM ET

Joran van der Sloot will be back in court Wednesday, but it’s anybody’s guess what will happen.

After a four-day hiatus, day two of his murder trial starts at 10 a.m. ET at Lurigancho Prison in Lima, Peru.

Watch live coverage on In Session.

On Friday, van der Sloot was asked if he admitted to charges including “qualified murder” and “simple robbery" in the death of Stephany Flores. He was expected to plead guilty, but instead, stopped justice in its tracks. It’s not clear if he was confused by the phrasing of the question or whether he just wanted to delay the trial. But whatever the reason, he shut down the trial by simply asking if he could think things over for a while. All parties agreed to the delay and court was recessed for the day.

To read the rest of Jean Casarez's article click here.

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Filed under: Joran van der Sloot • Natalee Holloway

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November 18, 2011

New leads in missing Sandusky case DA

Posted: 02:53 PM ET

Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar investigated allegations that former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky molested a child in 1998. Gricar chose not to bring charges at the time and now that young man, who is an adult, is listed as "Victim 6" in the current child molestation charges the Pennsylvania Attorney General is pursuing against Sandusky.

Gricar went missing in April 2005 and his whereabouts are still a mystery. He is reportedly presumed dead. The recent child molestation charges filed against Sandusky are raising questions about whether Gricar’s disappearance is somehow connected to the Sandusky case.

I sat down with Police Chief Shawn Weaver of the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, police department, who has been leading his detectives in the continuing search for Gricar. Weaver says his department has gotten new leads since the Sandusky case broke.

On April 15, 2005, Gricar went to work at the district attorney’s office. He took a drive that afternoon and was never seen again. As the missing person’s investigation became an immediate priority, investigators looked at high profile cases Gricar had prosecuted to see if any could provide clues into why a career who was months away from retirement would disappear without a trace.

Weaver says detectives never looked into Gricar’s 1998 investigation of Sandusky because they weren’t aware the inquiry took place. Weaver says he doesn’t think Gricar’s disappearance has anything to do with the Sandusky case, but he also says if he is wrong, the current attorney general’s investigation could provide new leads.

One of the strangest things about the Gricar case is that his county-issued laptop computer was found at the bottom of the Susquehanna River. Weaver confirmed to me that the hard drive had been intentionally removed. It was found several months after Gricar's disappearance along the river’s banks after the water had receded.

Weaver says in months before he went missing, Gricar had done searches on his home computer about “how to fry a hard drive” and searched other techniques of how water could permanently damage a hard drive. Gricar also bought a computer program to wipe clean a computer’s hard drive.

Were those searches and purchase because there was incriminating information on that computer’s hard drive? At this point, it seems no one will ever know.

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Filed under: Penn State Scandal

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November 16, 2011

More Sandusky charges to come?

Posted: 12:21 PM ET

As it was announced last week that charges had been filed against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky for allegedly sexually abusing eight young male victims between the years of 1994–2008, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said “the search continues for additional victims and this case remains an active and ongoing investigation.”

On Tuesday, HLN called the attorney general’s office to confirm what other reports were saying, that upwards of 10 additional alleged victims had stepped forward. The office said they "cannot discuss the details of an ongoing grand jury investigation."

Is it just a matter of semantics or is a grand jury continuing to hear testimony on the case and potentially recommend more charges? HLN reached out again to the AG’s office and asked if that was what their answer implied. Once again, the answer was, “This remains an active and ongoing grand jury investigation.”

On another front, HLN was able to confirm with a clerk for Judge William Wenner in Dauphin County that the upcoming preliminary hearing of Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Senior Vice President Gary Schultz will be continued. Their prelim, as it's routinely called, which had been set for November 17, determines whether charges against the two men will be bound over for trial. Both have been charged with lying to the grand jury and failure to report child abuse.

Later in the day, a statement was sent out by their attorneys Caroline Roberto and Tom Farrell. It reads:

“It's a travesty that the prosecutors are 'not available to proceed' with the preliminary hearing on November 17th. Our clients have a right to a speedy trial. By law, they have a right to have a preliminary hearing by Thursday, November 17th."

They added, "Mr. Curley and Mr. Schultz are anxious to face their accusers, clear their good names and go on with their lives."

HLN was also able to get a copy of a letter the Office of Attorney General sent to Wenner. It advises the court that the Commonwealth is not able to proceed on November 17, states they are aware the defense is objecting to the postponement and requests another date in December. Normally, it is the defense that asks for a continuance in this situation because defendants have a right to a speedy trial. This time, though, it's the prosecution making the request.

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Filed under: Penn State Scandal

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November 15, 2011

Missing DA investigated Sandusky case

Posted: 01:09 PM ET

This is a photo of missing District Attorney Ray Gricar's recovered laptop.

I spoke with Detective Matthew Rickard, who has been leading the investigation into the 2005 disappearance of the elected District Attorney of Center County Pennsylvania, Ray Gricar.

In 1998, Gricar decided not to pursue charges after the mother of a young man reported to Penn State Police that her son had been inappropriately touched by Jerry Sandusky as they showered together in the Penn State locker room.

Rickard tells me he is currently working to see if there could be any possible link between Gricar’s disappearance and the currently charged activity against Penn State athletic officials, but says there has been nothing to suggest Gricar - who is still missing - had knowledge of any of the other alleged activities.

Read: Shocking details from the Penn State grand jury report

Although the conspiracy theories are being pushed forward, Rickard tells me, from knowing Gricar himself, and the type of prosecutor he was, there must not have been the evidence to prosecute Sandusky back in 1998. Rickard admits that is speculation on his part, and is in the midst of finding out more information on Gricar’s investigation of Sandusky back in 1998.

In April, 2005 Gricar disappeared from the District Attorney’s office never to be seen again. He called his girlfriend and said he was going to take a leisurely drive that afternoon. His abandoned car was found near an antiques store in Lewisberg, Pennsylvania. His computer was found later in the Susquehanna River, but the hard drive had been taken out. Months later when the river banks receded, the hard drive was found about 100 yards from where the computer had been located. It was determined by investigators that the hard drive had been intentionally removed from the computer and repeated tests, including one done by the FBI, could not retrieve any data. The hard drive was too damaged.

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Filed under: Penn State Scandal

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