Jurors in Bill Cosby sexual assault trial ask for definition of ‘reasonable doubt’
NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Jurors considering the fate of Bill Cosby at his sexual assault trial asked for a definition of “reasonable doubt” on their fifth day of deliberations Friday, a day after telling the judge they were deadlocked on all charges.
The panel also asked to rehear parts of the 79-year-old comedian’s deposition testimony. Cosby gave the deposition more than a decade ago as part of accuser Andrea Constand’s lawsuit against him. He testified then that he had given Constand pills before a sexual encounter at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.
Jurors made the requests a few minutes after resuming deliberations. They have been working for more than 40 hours since getting the case on Monday.
Cosby is charged with three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault over allegations that he drugged and sexually violated Constand, 44. A conviction could put Cosby in prison for the rest of his life.
Cosby’s lawyer said he and Constand were lovers sharing a consensual moment of intimacy.
Judge Steven O’Neill said Friday that defense lawyers have made at least four bids for a mistrial as the deliberations have worn on without a verdict. But he said he’d let the jurors work as long as they wanted. The judge brought Cosby into court to make sure he’d approved of the mistrial requests, asking the comedian if he knew that a mistrial would mean he could be prosecuted again.
O’Neill also called out Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt for taking to the courthouse steps and telling reporters the case should end in a mistrial.
“You have a spokesman who is explaining to the media what a mistrial means — at least what he believes a mistrial is,” O’Neill told Cosby in court.
Wyatt had said the deadlock showed that jurors doubted Constand’s story.
“They’re conflicted about the inconsistencies in Ms. Constand’s testimony,” he told reporters on Thursday. “And they’re hearing Mr. C.’s testimony, and he’s extremely truthful. And that’s created this doubt.”
Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said only that the “jury is apparently working very hard.” The district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Jurors continued their work a day after telling the judge they were unable to reach agreement on a unanimous verdict. O’Neill told them to continue deliberations in the hopes of breaking their impasse.
Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby had drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.
Jurors who had appeared stressed and even angry leaving court on previous nights seemed more upbeat as they departed Thursday night, despite enduring another marathon session.
As the jurors left for the day, O’Neill heaped praise on them, thanking them for their dedication and the sacrifice they’ve made being 300 miles (480 kilometers) from home in the Pittsburgh area.
“I want to reiterate how proud I am of each and every one of you,” O’Neill said as he sent the sequestered jury back to the hotel. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you’ve done.”
The jury 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 the TV star or drop the charges.
The case has already helped demolish his image as America’s Dad, cultivated during his eight-year run as kindly Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the top-rated “The Cosby Show” in the 1980s and ’90s.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.