Bill Cosby trial Day 8: Jury breaks for night after third day of no verdict

Keshia Knight Pulliam escorts her former television father Bill Cosby into court to face assault charges. Elizabeth Keatinge (@elizkeatinge) has more.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A third day of jury deliberations in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial ended again late Wednesday without a verdict after 12 hours and a half-dozen questions for the judge and read-backs of testimony.

Day 8 of the Cosby trial was another day of waiting for lawyers, journalists, spectators and courthouse officials as the question on everyone's mind lingered: What is taking so long?

After they were served dinner (hot stromboli), the jury asked for a read-back of excerpts from the testimony of Richard Schaffer, the local police detective who interviewed Cosby in 2005 about what accuser Andrea Constand said Cosby did to her in his nearby home in 2004.

At the defense table, Cosby cracked a grin as the account mentioned a T-shirt Constand delivered to Cosby as a gift. The shirt had an image of Fat Albert, Cosby’s cartoon creation, with Constand’s face superimposed over it.

The jurors, who appeared fatigued, were dismissed by Judge Steven O'Neill around 9 p.m. and returned to their hotel.

“It’s been 12 hours, that’s enough. You’ve worked hard,” O’Neill said.

It was the sixth question or request from the jury since the seven men and five women got the case Monday evening. Also on Wednesday, the jury requested to hear extended excerpts of Constand's testimony about the night when she says he drugged and molested her. He says they were lovers and their encounter was consensual.

O'Neill ruled the court reporter would read back for the jury the parts of Constand’s testimony, both direct and cross-examination. After about 30 minutes of reading, the jury went back to the deliberation room at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

So far, the jurors have deliberated some 26 hours since Monday evening without reaching a verdict.

They got the case after a surprisingly speedy six days of testimony and legal arguments, cut short largely due to Cosby's defense team's decision to rest their case after little more than five minutes and just a few questions for Schaffer on Monday morning.

Before Wednesday's reading of Constand's testimony, the jurors had asked Judge O'Neill a total of four questions seeking clarification and re-reading of excerpts of Cosby's own words about his encounter with Constand at his home in suburban Philadelphia.

Before he sent them back to the hotel (where the Pittsburgh-based jurors are being sequestered) around 9:30 p.m. ET, on Tuesday, O'Neill commiserated with them about their fatigue.

Jurors were stone-faced but after hours of apparently grueling deliberations, they told O’Neill they needed rest. “Simply, you’re exhausted, and I respect that,” O’Neill said.

Cosby, 79 and nearly blind, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault in connection with his encounter with Constand; if convicted Cosby faces years in prison.

Even if he's acquitted, Cosby's former sterling reputation as a beloved star and "America's Dad" is indelibly stained by allegations from five-dozen women that he drugged and/or raped them in similar episodes dating to the 1960s.

Arriving at the courthouse in suburban Philadelphia Wednesday, Cosby gave a thumbs-up to the steadily growing crowd of media and onlookers. Scores of reporters from across the country and from Australia, Europe and Asia are on the scene to cover the trial; some are staked out near the courthouse steps, others line up daily outside Courtroom A inside.

Once again, Cosby was accompanied to the courthouse by bodyguards and assistants, including his spokesman Andrew Wyatt. His wife of 53 years, Camille, was not with him as she was on Monday, her first appearance since the trial began June 5.

During a lunch break Tuesday, Wyatt appeared on the courthouse steps to tell a crowd of reporters and cameras about what a defense witness would have said in court — damaging to the credibility of Constand — had O'Neill not barred her testimony as hearsay.

That was followed by a fiery broadside from Constand's civil attorney, Dolores Troiani, who said the witness' claims were untrue. She also slammed Wyatt for circulating the witness' statement while jurors were deliberating.

"You do not try your case on the courthouse steps," Troiani said. "The (witness) statement was not accurate ... I can see only one purpose for him coming here to do that, and that is to defame our client, and that is the goal of Mr. Cosby and his publicist."

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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