Cosby again seeks mistrial with no end in sight for jury deliberations

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - Bill Cosby’s defense lawyer asked a judge to declare a mistrial in his sexual assault case for at least the sixth time on Friday night, arguing that the jury’s deliberations, which will enter a sixth day on Saturday, have dragged on too long.

“We had a 36-hour trial, and this is the 52nd hour” of deliberations, a visibly frustrated Brian McMonagle told Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O’Neill at about 8:45 p.m.

Friday was the jury’s fourth consecutive 12-hour day.

O’Neill said he could not prevent jurors from working as long as they are willing to continue mulling whether the 79-year-old comedian was guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

The star of the 1980s TV hit family comedy “The Cosby Show” faces similar allegations from dozens of women, although only Constand’s led to criminal charges. Cosby has denied all of the claims.

The jurors told O’Neill on Thursday morning they were having trouble reaching a verdict on the three counts he faces, prompting the judge to give a standard instruction that they should keep working without compromising their individual beliefs.

McMonagle said he was concerned the jurors feel compelled to deliver a unanimous verdict even if it meant abandoning their true feelings.

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“They already said that they’re deadlocked,” he said. “I don’t think they know that they can say it again.”

O’Neill said he believed the jury understands it can inform him of any stalemate.

Since deliberations began on Monday, the jury has reviewed enormous chunks of testimony, prompting McMonagle to complain that it was essentially watching a replay of the trial.

On Friday, the jurors reviewed portions of the sworn depositions Cosby gave during Constand’s civil lawsuit in 2005 and 2006, when he described the night in question.

Cosby did not testify at the trial, but the jury had heard a police interview with him from 2005 as well as his depositions.

Constand was the prosecution’s key witness, telling jurors that Cosby gave her three unidentified pills before taking advantage when she was disoriented to sexually assault her.

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Cosby’s lawyers sought to discredit her by pointing to discrepancies between her testimony and statements to law enforcement in 2005, when she first reported the incident a year after it allegedly occurred.

Outside the courthouse, Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, gave a news conference in which he thanked the comedian’s supporters and praised the jury for its conscientiousness.

In response, one of Cosby’s other accusers, Lili Bernard, stood in front of the television cameras and said, “One thing: rapists lie.”

(This version of the story corrects third paragraph from third consecutive to fourth consecutive 12-hour day)

Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Tom Brown and Bill Trott