Deadlocked Cosby jury asks about ‘reasonable doubt’
The deadlocked US jury battling to reach a verdict in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial asked the judge Friday to define “reasonable doubt” and again asked to hear from the fallen star’s testimony.
The 79-year-old pioneering black actor could face spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault against 44-year-old Andrea Constand at his Philadelphia mansion in January 2004.
The 12-member jury had told Judge Steven O’Neill on Thursday that they were deadlocked, but the Pennsylvania judge ordered them to continue with no cut-off point to stop trying to reach a unanimous agreement.
The panel suspended its deliberations late Friday, and would resume its work again on Saturday.
They have now been deliberating more than 52 hours on whether or not Cosby should be convicted of drugging and molesting Constand.
Under US law, any application of the term “reasonable doubt” would mean that the jury should acquit the defendant.
The panel also asked to hear excerpts from Cosby’s deposition in 2005 in which he says he gave the sedative Quaaludes to a woman in Las Vegas in 1976 before having sex with her, and that he used them with other women.
The agonizing wait for a verdict saw tensions rise Friday outside the court in Norristown, just outside Philadelphia.
A woman heckled Cosby shouting “shame on you” as he walked into the building while supporters of the actor told her to “shut up” and welcomed him with his “hey, hey, hey” catchphrase from his 1970s and ’80s “Fat Albert” cartoon.
Cosby thanked his supporters as he left the courthouse late Friday.
“Stay calm. Don’t argue with people. Just keep your great support,” he said in front of TV cameras.
Although the trial concerns only Constand’s allegations, 60 women have publicly accused the legendary entertainer of being a serial sexual predator in remarkably similar accusations that span four decades.
The trial marks a steep fall from grace for an entertainer known for his role as a lovable father and obstetrician on the hit TV series “The Cosby Show.”
The avalanche of allegations have already ended the career and pulverized the reputation of a comedy legend who turns 80 next month.
If the seven-man, five-woman panel ultimately fail to reach a verdict, O’Neill will be forced to declare a hung jury, leaving open the prospect of a re-trial.