Despite calls for mistrial, Cosby deliberations head to a 6th day
The jury's prolonged debate surpassed the length of the trial testimony. Still, the panel has offered no signs as to what issues may be causing the division.
The weary jury deciding Bill Cosby's fate worked into the night Friday, with its deliberations eclipsing the amount of time the jurors spent in the courtroom hearing testimony during the entertainer's two-week trial on sexual-assault charges.
Their nearly 12 hours of talks Friday, one day after they had reported being deadlocked, seemed to signal progress.
But the seven men and five women who have been cloistered in a room in the Norristown courthouse for more than 52 hours continued to raise questions about the evidence, returning to the courtroom with six requests throughout the day to rehear testimony.
They broke just after 9 p.m. with plans to resume talks Saturday. The nature of their deliberations — or any reasons behind their disagreement — remained a mystery.
The pace spurred Cosby's lawyers to again ask Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O'Neill to declare a mistrial, a request they have made at least six times this week — three on Friday alone — and have had denied each time. Lawyer Brian J. McMonagle said he had never seen a jury deliberate this long on such a simplistic case.
"We're now being asked to review the entire trial," he said.
The judge, too, described the jurors' work as "unprecedented." But he said it was clear they were working hard to reach a resolution. They had not said otherwise since first reporting a deadlock late Thursday morning.
"In a case of this size, this magnitude, this length, as long as this jury wishes to continue to deliberate, I will let them deliberate," O'Neill declared.
Late Friday night, McMonagle tried again. "This court has worked them 12-hour days. They said they were deadlocked," he argued in his last bid for a mistrial. "I believe this jury is tired, it's weary. I'm afraid they believe they are being compelled to come back with a verdict."
The judge didn't budge.
"Everybody's assuming it must be one way or the other," he said. "We don't know where it is. Nobody knows where they are."
The exchange came after jurors had asked to hear testimony from accuser Andrea Constand's brother-in-law, who in 2005 traveled with her from Toronto to Pennsylvania for police interviews about the night she said Cosby drugged and molested her at his Cheltenham Township home.
Earlier, the panel members wanted to rehear Cosby's 2005 deposition testimony about obtaining Quaaludes with the intention of using them to seduce women, as well as a definition of "reasonable doubt." They also wanted to review Constand's testimony about phone records that showed her continued contact with Cosby after the alleged assault. And they inquired about testimony from Constand's mother, Gianna, in which she discussed a 2005 phone conversation she recorded with Cosby in which she demanded an explanation and apology from the entertainer.
Separated from their families and sequestered in a nearby hotel for nearly two weeks, the 12 jurors from Allegheny County spent nearly all week deliberating the case.
At times, the jurors showed signs of exhaustion from the arduous process, slouching in their chairs, muttering to themselves, whispering to each other, or dozing off when they returned to the courtroom.
Cosby, too, himself appeared tired as he leaned back in his chair and rubbed his face while his lawyers argued in court Friday morning. After a day in which his spokesman publicly declared the deadlock a victory, and supporters clashed with other accusers outside the courthouse, his team continued to rally supporters on the courthouse steps.
Around the same time the judge summoned the lawyers and media to the courtroom for another jury question, Cosby's Twitter account fired off words of appreciation to those backing him.
"Thank you to all of my fans and supporters – here in Norristown and worldwide," said the first of several tweets through the day that featured photos and videos of supporters outside the courthouse. Some wore T-shirts, held signs, and chanted, "We love Bill!"
Meanwhile, a representative of Constand said she stood resolute.
Angela Rose, an advocate for victims of sexual assault, said she and other victim advocates had been waiting with Constand and her mother inside the courthouse. Around lunchtime Friday, Rose stood before a crowd of reporters to denounce what she called the shaming and attacking of Constand by Cosby's lawyers.
"Andrea's calm, she's strong, and she's grateful that she spoke her truth," Rose said. "She will not be intimidated."
During one spell in court Friday, the judge cited the statements that Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt had made a day earlier after news of the jury impasse.
"This deadlock shows the 'not guilty' Mr. Cosby has been saying the entire time," Wyatt had told reporters as tensions rose outside the courthouse.
The judge used the occasion to place Cosby under oath Friday morning to ensure that he understood what a mistrial would mean. He reminded the defendant that if the case ended in a mistrial, prosecutors could choose to retry him on the same charges. Did he understand?
"Yes," he told the judge.
Late Friday, Wyatt again came out to address the assembled media. This time, his message wasn't as assured as it had been a day earlier.
"We're waiting," Wyatt said. "We're still trying to figure this thing out."
And as he left the courthouse Friday night, Cosby projected patience. Addressing the gathered television cameras, he thanked jurors for their hard work, wished the public a "Happy Father's Day," and left his supporters in Norristown with a message.
"Stay calm," he said. "Do not argue with people."
If convicted on any of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault, he could face up to 10 years in prison.