After a fifth day of deliberations in Bill Cosby’s Pennsylvania criminal trial over the alleged 2004 rape of Andrea Constand, the jury has adjourned for another night without reaching a verdict. Passing more than 50 hours of consideration of the case, the jury of seven men and five women will be back in the Norristown, PA courthouse Saturday to resume deliberations.
On Friday, the jury continued to ask Judge Steven O’Neill for questions and clarification in the case, in which the 79-year-old Cosby faces more than 10 years in jail if convicted of three felony charges of second-degree aggravated indecent assault. Having seen Cosby arraigned in December 2015 just before the state’s statute of limitations for sex crimes expired, this is the only criminal case again the actor despite more than 60 woman accusing him of drugging and sexually assaulting them over the decades.
As well as asking Friday to re-hear testimony from Constand’s mother, the jury wanted to look over the ex-Temple University employee’s cell phone records in the months immediately following the alleged assault at Cosby’s Philadelphia-area residence in January 2004. Additionally — and tea-leaf readers had many different assumptions as to what this question could mean — one of the requested clarifications asked for on Day 5 was the legal definition of the phrase “reasonable doubt.”
While the man once called “America’s Dad” admitted in his unsealed deposition in Constand’s civil case of more than a decade ago that he had Quaaludes to give to women for sex, and that he gave the Temple basketball staffer at least two Benadryl supposedly for stress, Cosby has always insisted the incident in question was consensual. In fact, Cosby’s defense lawyers during the trial and in their closing argument insisted the pair had a romantic relationship that was consensually intimate on at least three occasions.
The jury on Thursday told O’Neill they were deadlocked in the case, raising the possibility of a mistrial. The judge told them to “try again.” And they did for the remainder of yesterday and today amid several unsuccessful attempts by the defense to have a mistrial declared.
While shutting down those efforts by Cosby’s lawyers, a clearly annoyed O’Neill also made a point Friday of making sure the actor understood he could be tried again by the Montgomery County D.A.’s office for the same or similar charges if a mistrial was declared.
The exchange with O’Neill wasn’t the only time today Cosby was vocal. In the afternoon, The Cosby Show star took to Twitter twice to thank supporters both outside the courthouse and elsewhere. Later on Friday, after several turns by his PR Rep Andrew Wyatt at a podium set up outside the courthouse, Cosby waved from a top-floor window to those assembled in front of the building.
That caused a stir, but Wyatt’s proclaimations to the media that the jury should be allowed to go home and that a mistrial was an acquittal and a win for Cosby really apparently got under O’Neill’s skin. At one point in court Friday, he essentially told the defense team to rein in the PR flack and curb his incorrect assessment about what a mistrial actually meant.
The trio of current charges against Cosby break down to “penetration, however slight” of Constand without her consent; that penetration happened while Constand was “unconscious or the defendant knows the complainant is unaware that the penetration is occurring”; and giving the victim an intoxicating drug for “the purpose of preventing resistance.” As has been the case throughout the deliberations, Constand and several police officers who worked on the case were in the courtroom today.
The trial began June 5 and wrapped June 12 after Cosby’s defense team called no witnesses.