6 questions jury has asked in Bill Cosby trial
During more than 52 hours of deliberations, jurors in Bill Cosby’s indecent assault trial asked a dozen questions.
Three of them were requests to review what Cosby said, and another two were about the testimony of his accuser, Andrea Constand. The jurors also asked the court to define a phrase in one of the charges, to define “reasonable doubt” and to rehear a detective’s testimony about Cosby’s interview with police in 2005.
Cosby, 79, was accused of drugging and assaulting Constand, who was the director of operations for Temple University’s women’s basketball team in January 2004, when she says the incident happened at Cosby’s home near Philadelphia.
Judge Steven O’Neill declared a mistrial Saturday after the jurors reported they were deadlocked. Cosby, who pleaded not guilty to three charges of aggravated indecent assault, faced up to 10 years in prison for each charge.
Prosecutors immediately said they will retry the case.
The jury of seven men and five women was bused in from Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh, for the trial that started June 5. Jurors, who were sequestered in a hotel, began deliberating Monday evening.
These are the questions the jury asked:
Question: Can we see in Mr. Cosby’s testimony the part where he called the pills his “friends?”
The jurors asked for a reading of part of Cosby’s deposition from more than a decade ago in which he described giving pills to Constand on the night of the alleged sexual assault in 2004.
The drugs he gave Constand were over-the-counter Benadryl, he had said. Cosby had called the pills “friends.”
“‘I have three friends for you to make you relax,'” Cosby said, recalling during the deposition what he’d told Constand.
Constand reported the incident to police in 2005, a year after the alleged incident. At the time, the district attorney declined to press charges, citing insufficient evidence.
Constand sued in civil court, and Cosby provided a sworn deposition in which he said he had engaged in consensual sexual activity with Constand — and that he had obtained Quaaludes in order to give them to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
That civil suit was settled in 2006, and the Cosby deposition was sealed until 2015. The unsealed deposition was central to Cosby’s ongoing criminal case.
Question: We would like to see evidence from C-27 — C43.
Commonwealth exhibits 27 through 43 comprise a wider portion of Cosby’s deposition from more than a decade ago.
Among the topics covered in these portions of the deposition:
— How Cosby met Constand, and when he developed a romantic interest in her.
— Cosby’s description of what he says was a romantic encounter with Constand before the night of the alleged assault.
— Cosby’s description of what he says happened on the night of the alleged assault. That includes all the testimony covered in Question 1.
Question: Will you please define what it means in count 3 “without her knowledge?”
The jury asked the court to define the phrase “without her knowledge” in the third count of the aggravated indecent assault charge against Cosby.
Judge Steven O’Neill said the jury had the written charge in its possession and that he is not permitted to define the charges any further, saying it was up to the jury to determine what the phrase means.
The third count accuses Cosby of impairing Constand “by administering drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.”
O’Neill offered to read the written charge, but the jury didn’t take him up on it.
Question: Can we see the initial report to the Durham Police or what the court reporter recorded of that interview of Andrea Constand?
Canadian detective Dave Mason of Durham Regional Police took down the report on Constand’s sexual offense claim in January 2005. She made the report in her home province of Ontario, Canada.
Last week, Mason testified in court about his interview with Constand.
According to Mason, Constand said she had gone to Cosby’s house after dinner in mid-January 2004.
When they were alone in the kitchen, he offered a few blue pills to help her with tension, Mason testified recalling his interview.
Shortly afterward she began feeling dizzy and said her legs were like “jelly,” Mason said. She said after she started experiencing those effects, Cosby escorted her to a sitting room, he testified.
Mason said Constand didn’t recall much after that and said that Cosby lied next to her and assaulted her.
Question: Can we hear/see the testimony of Andrea Constand from the night of the incident?
Constand had testified over two days last week for the prosecution and had spoken about the night of the alleged indecent assault by Cosby.
The court reporter read back that part of her testimony.
Constand alleged that Cosby gave her three blue pills that he said were herbal and would help her relax.
“Put them down, they’re your friends. They’ll take the edge off,” Cosby told her, she testified.
She became incapacitated and felt “frozen” and told him so, Constand testified. Cosby then placed her on the couch and sexually assaulted her without her consent, she had said.
Question: Can we hear the Richard Schaffer testimony about his talk with Mr. Cosby?
Sgt. Richard Schaffer with Pennsylvania’s Cheltenham Township police department testified last week about a January 2005 interview that Cosby gave to police about the alleged assault.
That interview occurred in the presence of Cosby’s lawyers in New York City.
In court, Schaffer read aloud Cosby’s statements from that interview.
During his interview with law enforcement, Cosby said that he gave Benadryl to Constand.
In response to the jury’s sixth question, Schaffer’s entire testimony had to be transcribed by the court reporter, which she read back to the jury. The reading took nearly an hour on Wednesday.
Question: Can we hear Cosby’s deposition about Quaaludes?
Jurors on Friday morning asked the court to repeat Cosby’s deposition in a civil lawsuit that was unsealed in 2015. Speaking under oath, Cosby said he acquired seven prescriptions for Quaaludes, the powerful sedative, in order to give them to women with whom he wanted to have sex.
Cosby told a doctor that he had a bad back but did not intend to use them for himself, he said, because they made him sleepy. Quaaludes were the party drug of young people in those days, he said. He also said he did not have any in his possession as of November 2002.
Prosecutors have argued that his acknowledged use of Quaaludes on women shows that his alleged drugging of Andrea Constand in 2004 was not a mistake.
Question: What is reasonable doubt?
In criminal trials, prosecutors must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt — the highest standard of proof in the legal system — that the defendant committed the crime.
If members of the jury have a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt, they must declare him or her not guilty.
In Cosby’s trial, jurors said Thursday they are deadlocked and cannot come to a unanimous opinion on any of the three charges. Judge Steven O’Neill asked them to continue deliberating, and they returned on Friday morning with the “reasonable doubt” question, suggesting that they remain deadlocked.
Question: Can we hear Gianna Constand’s testimony on the first phone call with Bill Cosby?
Gianna Constand, the accuser’s mother, testified about her two-plus hour phone call with Cosby after learning about the alleged assault.
In that call, Cosby told the mother what he did sexually with Andrea Constand in graphic detail, “trying to lead me to believe that it was consensual,” she testified. He even said that he had given Andrea Constand an orgasm, the mother said.
“It sounds perverted. I sound like a perverted person,” Cosby told her. He also admitted he was a “sick man,” she testified.
Gianna Constand, who said she was aggressive and rude in the call, angrily demanded to know what pills Cosby gave her daughter that made her incapacitated. He told her that he could not read the label on the prescription bottle, and so he agreed to write down the medication on a piece of paper and mail it to her.
She testified that she never received a note from Cosby.
Question: Can we hear Andrea’s Constand’s testimony pertaining to D14 and D15?
These two documents pertain to the phone records that show calls between Constand and Cosby after the alleged assault.
A total of 72 phone calls were made in that time, and Constand called him on 53 of those. Defense attorneys, who tediously went through each of those calls, argue that they prove Constand was untruthful when she told investigators that she had little contact with Cosby after the alleged assault.
“I was mistaken,” she testified. “It was a lot of confusion putting a lot of dates together.”
Cosby’s defense has argued that the calls show Constand was not behaving like a victim of sexual assault.
Constand, who was an employee at Temple University, said the majority of those calls to Cosby, a powerful Temple trustee, were made as part of her job responsibilities.
Question: Can we hear a section of Gianna Constand’s testimony?
The judge denied the request, saying, “This was just read to you.”
He instructed them to rely on their collective recollection.
Question: Can we hear Stewart Parsons’ testimony?
Stewart Parsons, Andrea Constand’s brother-in-law, is a police officer in Toronto.
He testified that he learned about the incident in January 2005 from his wife, who had been told by her mother. He advised Andrea Constand to get an attorney and file a police report.
He also told Constand’s mother to record any more conversations with Cosby.