NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Jurors in Bill Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia sexual assault trial are wrapping up for the night, still at an impasse after more than 50 hours of deliberations.
They will return Saturday morning for the sixth day of deliberations.
Cosby’s defense team has been asking for a mistrial, arguing jurors have talked about the charges long enough.
Judge Steven O’Neill says he’s compelled by law to allow deliberations to go on for as long as the jury wants. He told the jurors to keep trying for a verdict after they said Thursday they were deadlocked.
The judge praised the jurors again before letting them return to their hotel Friday night. He says he sees “nothing but hard work, dedication, fidelity” to their oath. He adds “tonight, just rest.”
Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. He says it was consensual.
While Cosby has mainly been silent, he thanked supporters outside the courthouse on Friday while many chanted “let Bill go!”
“I just want to wish all of the fathers a happy Father’s Day,” Cosby said. “And I want to thank the jury for their long days. Their honest work, individually. I also want to thank the supporters who have been here. And, please, to the supporters, stay calm. Do not argue with people. Just keep up the great support. Thank you.”
The jury has been asking questions for much of Friday. Their questions have ranged from seeking phone records and testimony of Constand and her mother, CBS Philadelphia reports.
At one point Friday afternoon, they doubled-up and asked for the same testimony twice, but O’Neill said he wasn’t going to allow that.
One juror appeared to be napping while the jury was hearing testimony regarding phone calls Constand made to Cosby.
Since beginning deliberations on Monday, they have asked 12 questions and passed one note to the judge.
O’Neill also came down sternly on defense attorney Brian McMonagle, warning him to avoid moving for mistrial after mistrial without presenting case law to back up claims the lengthy jury deliberations should result in a mistrial.
The judge says there will be no mistrial based on the long deliberations.
He also went after Cosby’s publicist, Andrew Wyatt, after Wyatt declared Thursday that the deadlocked jury was somehow a win and vindication for the Cosby team.
O’Neill explained to Cosby the exact meaning of “mistrial” after concerns about his publicist’s comments on the case.
Wyatt responded to reporters Friday afternoon.
“I will continue to speak on his behalf. If I see something that should be taking place and something that’s not taking place I will say those things,” said Wyatt. “I’m not going to be shy about saying it. Hey, I was glad the judge shouted me out. I think he might want me to be his publicist for St. Patrick’s Day when he walks down that hallway.”
Legal experts say the judge took important steps to shore-up the integrity of the proceedings against wild speculation that some have pushed outside the courthouse.
“The judge wants to be absolutely sure that Bill Cosby doesn’t claim his lawyer didn’t tell him that you can be retried if there is a mistrial,” said Dennis McAndrews.
Cosby took to Twitter Friday afternoon to thank his supporters.
“Thank you to all my fans and supporters — here in Norristown and worldwide,” Cosby tweeted.
Outside the courthouse Friday evening, a group of people chanted, “Let Bill go!”
Constand’s lawyer, Dolores Troiani, said only that the “jury is apparently working very hard.” The district attorney’s office declined to comment.
Dozens of women have come forward to say Cosby had drugged and assaulted them, but this was the only case to result in criminal charges.
The jury must come to a unanimous decision to convict or acquit. If the panel can’t break the deadlock, the judge could declare a hung jury and a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would get four months to decide whether they want to retry the TV star or drop the charges.