Throughout his trial, Bill Cosby was confident that he would get a hung jury.
After all, the prosecution needed to convince all 12 jurors, but his side only needed to sway a single holdout, Cosby would wryly note.
“All I need is one,” the comedian reminded those around him during breaks in the proceedings — two weeks of testimony and deliberations in one of the most high-profile sexual assault cases in years.
He was proven right Saturday when the judge in the case declared a mistrial, ending the lengthy deliberations after the jury repeatedly failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
Though prosecutors vowed to retry the case, Cosby had grown increasingly optimistic of his chances last week while the jury was out, counting on his need to persuade just a lone panelist.
And as deliberations dragged on, stretching eventually into their 50th hour, those odds became a mantra.
“I only need one, man,” he’d say.
At the start of each break, court deputies and Cosby’s defense team would escort Cosby away from the courtroom and the milling press, through the halls of Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
The deputies would take him to a small, third-floor conference room.
“My dressing room,” Cosby called it.
The courtroom itself?
“My stage,” he’d quip to those inside, including the Black Press.
Then, as two deputies stood guard outside, Cosby would spend the break predicting, if not an outright acquittal, at least a mistrial.
“Steele wants me badly, he ran on getting me,” Cosby said at one point of the prosecutor, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. “But he doesn’t have a case.”
That’s why Cosby said he turned down the DA’s offer of a no-jail deal that would require him to wear a monitoring bracelet and register as a sex offender.
A prosecution spokesman denied there was ever any offer, but Cosby’s team insists there was.
“They offered me a deal,” Cosby said during one break. “They want me to wear this bracelet around my ankle. They want me to say I’m a sex offender.”
Why, he was asked, did he decline?
“I’m innocent,” he said.
“But most important, me and [wife] Camille went to South Africa to visit Nelson Mandela,” Cosby said of the anti-apartheid revolutionary who spent 27 years in prison, became South Africa’s first president and died in 2013.
“Mandela was free at the time and president, but we met him at Robben Island where he was held prisoner all of those years,” Cosby said. “I sat in that cell where he lived all those years. I saw those conditions, I heard what he ate and what he had to deal with.
“So, if they send me to that place, then that’s what they will do and I will have to go there,” he said.
Sometimes, in his “dressing room,” Cosby would appear to meditate, throwing back his head and closing his eyes.
Often, he’d speak about his family.
“When you have grandchildren, man, I’m telling you, you lose your wife,” he joked, nearly ready to launch into a standup bit as if he was back in front of an adoring crowd on the Sunset Strip. “You lose her, man.
“Listen, one of my grandchildren, you know, my wife has become her tutor,” he said. “My wife can’t stay away from the grandchild. One of the things Camille does is she tutors the girl and then, after she’s learned, Camille has her teach her [back].”
He was quick to shift gears, trying out new material.
“The kids, my kids, they don’t realize that I grew up in the ghetto,” said the Philadelphia-born Cosby. “They think I’ve always lived in a big house. So, one day, I’m driving and I take them where I grew up … and they don’t believe me.”
Camille was a rare presence at the courthouse, but was often on the phone with her husband.
“They joke all of the time. She calls him Billy,” Cosby spokesman Andrew Wyatt said at one point, to which Cosby answered, “She can call me whatever she wants. She’s the B-O-S-S.”
Not once did he gripe about the lack of support from fellow bold-faced names.
“They are concerned about their careers,” he said. “I’m not asking, I’m not begging for anyone to come. I’m not begging for anyone to call.”
Wyatt maintained the dressing room-style atmosphere by announcing visitors.
“Mr. Cosby, we have…” Wyatt would say, and Cosby would greet them.
At his most optimistic — and he was often very optimistic — Cosby would talk of performing again.
And why not? “The Cosby Show” had been the most successful TV program of the ’80s. In 2003 — a decade before dozens of women began to come forward to accuse him of drugging and abusing them — Advertising Age wrote that only the Pope had a higher public approval index.
He wants to be that guy again, making an audience laugh instead of cringe.
“I can’t wait to get back out there because I have a lot to say,” he said. “There’s still so much to be said.
“It’s in the bones,” he said of his desire to keep performing. “In the blood.”
As deliberations continued to drag, he’d muse again on what turned out to be a great hunch.
“Only need one,” he said. “And if it’s just one, I hope that one holds on.”