Bill Cosby trial: Jury tests patience of judge as deliberations continue

Mr Cosby has admitted to buying the party drug for women in previous depositions

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The Independent US

The jury in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case tested the patience of defence lawyers and even the judge on the fifth day of deliberations as it repeatedly asked to run through testimony from the TV star, his accuser and others, struggling to break a deadlock that threatens to end the trial without a verdict. 

With deliberations running about as long as the testimony of all the witnesses combined, the 79-year-old TV star's lawyer complained that jurors were seeking a replay of the entire trial. 

Judge Steven O'Neill twice refused defence requests for a mistrial, declaring that jurors could talk as long as they wanted over allegations that Cosby drugged and molested a woman at his suburban Philadelphia mansion in 2004 - allegations Cosby denies. 

But even the solicitous judge had his limits, putting his foot down late Friday afternoon when the jurors asked to hear a sliver of testimony they'd just had read back to them. The judge told them they had to rely on their collective memory. 

Cosby thanked his fans and supporters as the jury deliberated sexual assault charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. He tweeted shortly after the panel asked to review his testimony about giving drugs to women with whom he wanted to have sex.

It was the first Twitter message from Cosby in more than a week and came as jurors spent a fifth day in talks, trying to break an impasse that has raised the possibility his trial will end without a verdict. The defence said the jury had struggled with the charges long enough, twice asking for a mistrial Friday.

Cosby lawyer Brian McMonagle objected in court to the panel's repeated requests to review testimony, saying it suggested some jurors were trying to coerce other jurors in an attempt to bring an end to the deadlock.

"They were here!" said Mr McMonagle, exasperated.

Judge Steven O'Neill said he saw no evidence of coercion or trouble in the deliberating room after the jurors reported their impasse on Thursday and he instructed them to keep trying for a verdict.

"There's a misperception that there's a time limit," the judge said, adding he'd let the jurors work as long as they wanted.

On Friday, the panel listened again to what Mr Cosby had to say about his use of Quaaludes, a now-banned party drug.

Cosby testified in a 2006 deposition that he got seven prescriptions for the powerful sedative in the 1970s for the purpose of giving them to women before sex.

The testimony is relevant because Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee, at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Cosby, 79, has said he gave Benadryl to Ms Constand, 44, before a consensual sexual encounter. Prosecutors have suggested he might have given her Quaaludes.

Cosby, who gave the deposition as part of Ms Constand's lawsuit against him, said in 2006 he never took Quaaludes himself, preferring to keep them on hand for social situations.

"When you got the Quaaludes, was it in your mind that you were going to use these Quaaludes for young women that you wanted to have sex with?" Mr Cosby was asked.

"Yes," he answered.

But he said he no longer had the sedative — a highly popular party drug in the 1970s that was banned in the U.S. in 1982 — when he met Ms Constand in 2002 at Temple University.

Cosby's lawyer said he and Ms Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.

The jurors went back to the deliberating room after having the Quaaludes testimony read back to them and listening again to the definition of reasonable doubt, the threshold that prosecutors must cross to win a conviction. After a lunch break, reviewed testimony from Ms Constand's mother about phone conversations they had with Mr Cosby after the encounter. According to the testimony, Cosby called himself a "sick man" but refused to identify the pills he gave to Ms Constand.

The panel must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit.

If the panel can't break the deadlock, the judge could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry Cosby or drop the charges.

The case has already helped demolish Cosby's image as America's Dad, cultivated during his eight-year run as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated The Cosby Show in the 1980s and '90s.

Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.

Associated Press