Jury Can’t Decide If Bill Cosby Is Innocent or Guilty
Jurors told a judge they are deadlocked in the comedian’s sex-assault case, even after asking several rounds of questions. He may go free.
NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania — The sexual-assault case against Bill Cosby appears headed for a mistrial after the jury entered its fourth day of deliberation Thursday.
After deliberating most of the morning, the jury reentered the courtroom just after 11 a.m. and told the judge overseeing the case, Steven O’Neill, that they are deadlocked.
O’Neill told them to keep trying.
Since closing arguments Monday afternoon, the jury has filed in and out of the courtroom no fewer than a half-dozen times with questions about the case and details regarding the charges against the 79-year-old actor and comedian.
A source who works in Montgomery County Courthouse told The Daily Beast that Judge O’Neill booked the courtroom for three weeks total for the trial. Throughout the trial, O’Neill has expressed solidarity with the jury, which was brought in from Pittsburgh and has been sequestered for nearly two weeks. During the Stanley Cup finals, he made an effort to break court early enough to make sure the jurors could eat dinner and still make it back to their hotel to “see the puck drop” for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
On Monday, the jury asked to see where in a deposition given in 2005 Cosby called the pills he gave alleged victim Andrea Constand “his friends,” citing a need for “all the context.” The next day jurors asked for clarification about the nature of one of the charges against Cosby. They requested the definition of the term “without her knowledge.” Cosby is facing three counts of aggravated indecent assault, which under Pennsylvania law includes “administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.”
O’Neill said he could provide no further definition for the term.
Cosby says he gave Benadryl to Constand that she took willingly. She doesn’t dispute that, but claims Cosby told her it was “herbal medicine.”
The jury also requested to hear Cosby’s explanation of what medication he kept at home, including non-prescription green blood-pressure pills given to him by a New York acupuncture therapist, as well as Cosby’s use of Benadryl, and both his personal use and use on the night of Constand’s alleged assault.
The level of Constand’s consent, or lack thereof, has been a key component of the case, with defense attorneys laboring to convince the jury that Constand was willingly engaged in a romantic relationship with Cosby, who was married at the time of the alleged assault.
It took three days of jury selection in May to seat the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates. They were drawn from a pool of 300 people. Due to the high-profile nature of the case, and the celebrity of the defendant, the judge ordered the jury to be selected from Allegheny County in western Pennsylvania, a six-hour drive from Norristown.
Even so, as many as half of the pool admitted in questioning to already having an opinion on the case. The defense had raised objections to the racial makeup of the jury, which is comprised of four white women, six white men, one black woman, and one black man. The six alternates include four white men, one black woman and one black man.
— Max Pulcini contributed to this report.