ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — On its fifth day of deliberations Friday, the deadlocked jury in Bill Cosby’s trial asked the court a loaded question: “What is reasonable doubt?”
In all, jurors have asked 11 questions of the court amid 46 hours of deliberations, essentially asking to hear the evidence for a second time.
The jury’s continued questions leave open the possibility that jurors might remain deadlocked and unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault that Cosby faces.
Prosecutors say Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team, at his home near Philadelphia in January 2004.
Cosby, 79, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Thursday, jurors told the court they could not come to a unanimous decision beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required in criminal cases.
Judge Steven O’Neill asked the jury to go back into deliberations for another attempt to reach a verdict, an instruction known in Pennsylvania as the Spencer Charge.
It’s a set of instructions that asks jurors to re-examine their own views and opinions, and there is no limit to how many times a judge can issue it.
If, after further deliberations, jurors still cannot reach consensus, the judge can choose to declare a mistrial.
Defense attorneys have repeatedly asked for O’Neill to declare a mistrial based on the jury’s length of deliberations, but the judge has denied their request.
“I’m going to allow this to go as long as this jury wishes to continue to deliberate,” O’Neill said Friday.
If there is a mistrial, Cosby would not be considered guilty or not guilty, and prosecutors could choose to retry the case with a different set of jurors.
Still, that would represent a major win for Cosby’s team, which has argued that the case never should have reached court.
The 12-person jury is made up of four white women, six white men, one black woman and one black man.