Jurors on Tuesday began deliberating the fate of comedian Bill Cosby in his sexual assault retrial after closing arguments were made.
Cosby could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted on the three counts of aggravated indecent assault he’s been charged with.
Defense attorneys rested after presenting evidence from a Federal Aviation Administration expert, who confirmed the authenticity of records that show the icon could not have been in Pennsylvania when prosecutors said he assaulted Andrea Constand in January 2004.
Ironically, it appeared from records that Cosby may have been in Toronto — Constand’s hometown.
In the initial trial last year, jurors failed to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the three counts alleged against the funnyman, whose lawyers didn’t call any witnesses during that trial.
This year, his team led by famed defense attorney Tom Mesereau, called six witnesses and the judge refused to allow testimony from a woman named Sheri Williams, who was close friends with Constand but, in a deposition, appeared to cast doubt on Constand’s claims against Cosby.
For Samad Barkley, a southeast D.C. resident who drove 145 miles to Norristown on Friday to witness the trial, everything seemed odd.
“I got here at 7 a.m. because I thought I would have a hard time getting in, but it turned out that the courtroom was mostly empty, with just media people,” the self-employed landscaper said.
However, it wasn’t the size of the gathering that made the proceedings odd, Barkley said. It was the argument between attorneys and the delay in between the testimony of a key defense witness that stood out.
Alleged victim Andrea Constand had previously testified that she lived a “holistic and clean life.” She claimed she didn’t know what the pills were that Cosby had offered her on the night of the alleged incident, which itself has been thrown into serious doubt because the comedian’s flight records and the itinerary kept by his assistant show Cosby could not have been in Pennsylvania on the night in question.
Constand had also said she was gay and her mother, Gianna Constand, testified how supportive she was of her daughter. But a defense witness, a man named Robert Russell, was prepared to punch a gigantic hole into that testimony.
In a sworn statement, Russell said he and Constand popped hallucinogens “like candy” and regularly smoked marijuana. He said they were “more than just close friends” and that their physical relationship had been forged by none other than Gianna Constand.
“The Constands had one main rule at the house after Andrea came out, no Blacks and no women allowed over,” Russell said. “They set Bill Cosby up. … It was her mother’s chance to get revenge on Black people.”
He also said in a sworn statement that Constand left Canada looking to “become a millionaire,” which plays at the heart of the defense’s case that she was a con artists looking for a major score that she got when Cosby paid her $3.4 million to rid himself of a nuisance lawsuit she filed against him.
However, Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill, as he has done often throughout the case, ruled against the defense, prohibiting Russell from testifying about his and Constand’s drug use or their love affair.
“How could he do that?” Barkley said of the judge’s ruling. “Just in this little bit, I realize that Bill Cosby can’t get a fair trial.”
Cosby’s telephone, flight and business records have shown that the comedian could not have been in Pennsylvania when prosecutors claim he assaulted Constand. Also, testimony from Cosby’s former personal chef — perhaps the most credible person to testify in the entire case — said that he left the comedian’s employ in May or June 2003, or six to seven months before the time prosecutors contend the incident happened. The problem with the prosecution’s theory lies in that the chef was the only one to have served dinner to Constand.
Further, in what Assistant District Attorney Stuart Ryan thought may have been a great cross-examination of a Temple University employee who thought she had roomed with Constand on Feb. 1, 2004, he produced records that revealed they probably shared a room on Feb. 1, 2003, which falls outside of the 12-year statute of limitations for the case.
“With the latest development in the Bill Cosby trial, it now should definitely be dismissed,” said observer Micah Coleman. “If Andrea ‘Con Artist’ is saying the incident occurred on a specific date but Cosby’s itinerary proves he wasn’t there, stop the trial pronto or change the name of this country.”
“It’s so odd, but I am going back home because if they find him guilty, I would have witnessed a real-life lynching,” he said. “I’m just not in the right frame of mind to witness this.”