Jury deadlocked in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case as defence call for mistrial

The jurors have been deliberating for four days without consensus 

Emily Shugerman
New York
Friday 16 June 2017 00:02
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse during his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse during his sexual assault trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania

Protesters gathered outside a Montgomery County Courthouse on Thursday, as the jurors in comedian Bill Cosby’s sexual assault case announced they had reached a deadlock.

The jury informed Judge Steven O’Neill they had yet to form a unanimous verdict, after more than 30 hours of deliberation. The judge promptly sent them back to try again.

Casting aside the defence's request for a retrial, Mr O'Neill reportedly told them, "It's simply inappropriate at this time".

The jury is now set to deliberate late into the night, facing the possibility of a hung jury and a potential retrial.

The seven men and five women of the jury have been sequestered near the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Courthouse for the better part of two weeks, hearing arguments for the guilt or innocence of the comedian once known as “America’s Dad”.

Mr Cosby is accused of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, the former head of women’s basketball coach at Temple University, at his Pennsylvania home in 2004. The 79-year-old has pleaded not guilty to three counts of aggravated indecent assault – charges that could land him in jail for the rest of his life if he is found guilty.

Lawyers for Ms Constand argued last week that Mr Cosby drugged and molested her after a private dinner at his residence. The defence has claimed the two were in a romantic relationship, and the encounter was consensual.

Over four days of deliberation, the jury has requested to re-hear testimony five different times. In one instance, they wanted to hear the portion of Ms Constand’s testimony in which she described feeling “frozen” and slurring her words after taking the pills Mr Cosby gave her on the night in question. She said he later helped her to his couch and began groping and penetrating her with his hands.

Later, jurors asked to hear what Mr Cosby had told a detective about the alleged assault in 2005. Mr Cosby did not testify in his trial, meaning jurors must rely on this interview and a 2005 deposition to hear the comedian’s versions of events straight from the source.

Jurors for the case were selected from neighbouring Allegheny County, for fear that a district attorney's race in Montgomery County would sway residents’ opinions. As a result, jurors have spent the last 10 days in a courthouse 300 miles from home, barred from watching TV, reading the news, or discussing the case with their family and friends.

Their relative isolation meant the jurors were largely oblivious to the scene outside the courthouse on Thursday, when protesters came to argue for or against the comedian's innocence.

Two protesters carried signs reading "Free Mr Cosby" and "Stop wasting tax payer money!" Nearby, another of Mr Cosby's accusers recounted the night he allegedly assaulted her.

County workers set up barricades to contain to flood of activity at the generally quiet courthouse.

From the courthouse steps, a spokesman for Mr Cosby declared the deadlock a “win” for his client.

"This deadlock shows the not guilty Mr. Cosby has been saying this entire time,” he told the The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeremy Roebuck.

"Deadlock is a deadlock,” the spokesman added. “We can call it a win. When the Golden State Warriors beat the Cavs, that was a win. A win is a win"

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