A wearied Cosby jury ends third day without a verdict

Bil Cosby gives a thumbs-up to a fan on the sidewalk as he arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse on the third day of jury deliberation.

By early Wednesday evening, the jurors in Bill Cosby’s sexual-assault trial looked tired.

As they returned to the courtroom to ask again to hear key testimony – their fifth such request since Monday night – a few slouched in their chairs, yawned, or even appeared to doze off as the judge and lawyers haggled over the request. The jurors also broke what had been their pattern this week and asked to have their dinner delivered early.

A few hours later, they left for the night. “It’s been 12 hours,” Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill told them as he dismissed them at 9 p.m. “And that is enough.”

After 28 hours of deliberations over three days, not only have they not reached a verdict, but there was no sign of how close they might be to deciding Cosby’s fate — or what might be hanging them up.

Despite whispers of an impasse by the uniformed spectators and reporters who ringed the Norristown courthouse, and the looks of exhaustion of some jurors, the seven men and five women in the deliberation room never once uttered the word deadlock to the judge.

If anything, their requests to review certain testimony only reinforced the notion that the case hinges on a simple question: Should they believe Cosby or his accuser?

By midday Wednesday, about 21 hours into their deliberations, they had asked to hear parts of the 300-page transcript of Andrea Constand’s testimony – particularly her account of the 2004 night on which she says Cosby gave her three pills that rendered her unconscious, then sexually assaulted her at his Cheltenham home.

About two hours later, they were back in the courtroom, this time wanting to review Cosby’s version of the incident. They asked O’Neill to hear what the entertainer told a Cheltenham detective who interviewed him after Constand first reported the alleged assault back in 2005.

Even the judge, who earlier in the day had been whistling in the courthouse hallways, seemed exasperated. As the packed courtroom waited for the jury to arrive, O’Neill shook his head and rushed in and out of the room, searching for papers under his desk and remarking that the testimony from that interview with Sgt. Richard Schaffer had yet to be transcribed.

He announced the court was working on the request, but suggested jurors have their dinner first — “hot strombolis,” he told them.

Three hours later, he called them back into the room, apologizing for the delay.  “To get that done is an incredible amount of work,” O’Neill said. “It doesn’t just happen.”

In the 2005 statement they wanted to review, given by Cosby at his lawyer’s office in New York City, the defendant told detectives that he gave Benadryl pills to Constand on the night in question.

He insisted their ensuing encounter was consensual and did not include intercourse.

“Never asleep or awake,” Cosby had replied when asked if he and Constand had sex.

The judge had made clear he would let jurors deliberate as long as needed on any given day – in part because the panel and the six alternates were chosen in Allegheny County and have been sequestered in a hotel near Norristown for more than a week. On Tuesday, they deliberated 12 hours.

As Wednesday began, the panel headed straight to the jury room to begin deliberations. They did not emerge all morning, stirring speculation about progress.

Whether the wait was heartening or weighing on Cosby wasn’t clear. He stayed in a room on the third floor of the courthouse for most of the day, emerging only to head to the courtroom for jury questions. But he, too, appeared drained by the end of the day.

Constand and her mother, Gianna, also remained at the courthouse in anticipation of a verdict, sitting in the front row of the courtroom when jurors had questions. When court was not in session, they remained hidden from reporters and cameras.

Four other women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, but are not part of this case, were also inside, sitting near the courtroom where the trial unfolded.

Outside, a crowd of reporters and onlookers from as far away as Canada and Europe have set up camp awaiting any news of a decision.

At least one reporter was removed from the courthouse Wednesday afternoon for using a cellphone in the courtroom. Earlier in the day, the podium set up near the entrance reportedly had to be repaired after it broke under the weight of microphones positioned on it for post-verdict news conferences.

Locals joined the crowds as well. One Norristown man even brought a recliner to sit outside the courthouse and wait for a verdict – one that didn’t come.

Staff writer Michaelle Bond contributed to this article.

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