Is Bill Cosby Going to Walk? Deadlocked Jury Deliberates for a 5th Day.
Bill Cosby may walk! It’s been over four days and jurors in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial are still deadlocked in the one criminal prosecution filed against the disgraced actor and comedian. Today, as the fifth day of deliberations proceeds, the jurors have asked the judge to define “reasonable doubt” as they try to reach a verdict for the Cosby trial. The jury started to deliberate on Monday evening and has spent over 40 hours during the five days. At the end of the day Thursday, the Jurors stated they are deadlocked and cannot come to a unanimous decision on any of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault Cosby faces. However, Judge Steven O’Neil asked the jury to go back and deliberate in another attempt to reach a consensus.
These extensive deliberations highlight major flaws in the prosecution’s case, after what many commentators thought would be a slam dunk conviction. Constand’s allegations came a year later after a “flashback” triggered her memory, she hired a civil attorney before filing criminal charges in Canada, she texted Cosby over 70 times after the alleged rape, and there was no forensic or video evidence to substantiate any of the claims. The cross examination of the prosecution witnesses and alleged victim ultimately ended up as the factual defense, casting doubt on the veracity of those claims. With only the testimony of Constant to fall back on, it appears some jurors aren’t sure who or what to believe.
The standard jury instruction used by Pennsylvania to define reasonable doubt in a criminal trial is:
“To find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, you must be convinced of his guilt to the same degree you would be convinced about a matter of importance in your life in which you would act with confidence and without restraint or hesitation.”
The prosecution must provide sufficient evidence that is not based on mere speculation. Having such a high burden of proof ensures protections against wrongful conviction. It also helps to support the presumption of innocence.
Additionally, at the jurors’ request, Judge O’Neill reread Cosby’s previous testimony wherein he discussed obtaining prescription Quaaludes and using them with women to have sex. Andrea Constand alleged that Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted her in his home in 2004. Eight years later the Montgomery County, PA, District Attorney decided to file criminal charges, just weeks short of the statute of limitations. Although over 40 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, prosecutors could not file criminal charges because the women never called the police, or the statute of limitations on the complaints had expired.
The trial opened on June 5th with one of the accusers, Kelly Johnson, taking the stand. Johnson testified that she was drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby. Prosecutors were only allowed one of the other women who accused Cosby to testify, and Johnson’s story closely paralleled the story of Constand. The claims made by both women are similar in that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them after inviting them to his home.
The following day at trial, Andrea Constand, Cosby’s primary accuser, testified that Cosby gave her pills and sexually assaulted her in his Philadelphia home in 2004. Cosby’s lawyer undermined Constand’s claim by suggesting that she enjoyed and signaled her interest in him as well. Further, the defense argued that Constand showed no adverse effects from the Benadryl pills that he gave her to relax. The defense also pointed to the extensive record of contacts Constand had with Cosby after the alleged incident, which the defense stated was not typical behavior of a victim with their abuser.
Cosby’s lawyer painted Constand as a liar who damaged Cosby’s credibility with conflicting statements to the police when she first accused Cosby of sexually assaulting her in 2005. Prosecutors portrayed Constand as a victim, who had no voice.
The jury began deliberations on June 12 after Cosby’s team rested its case. So far, the jurors have asked six questions during deliberations, mostly to rehear testimony from Constand and the police detective who interviewed Cosby. According to observers in the courtroom, the jurors have appeared immensely tired and distraught after deliberating late in the night. Some jurors looked overwhelmed and defeated as the judge order them to continue deliberating.
RYAN KERNS – Senior Legal Writer
Source: Wild About Trial
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