The Montgomery County jury deciding Bill Cosby’s criminal case posed a fundamental question on its fifth day of deliberations: “What is reasonable doubt?”
Jurors submitted the question Friday at 9:11 a.m., after deliberating 40 hours since Monday afternoon. The jury had informed the court Thursday morning that it was deadlocked, and Judge Steven T. O’Neill read them an Allen charge, encouraging them to continue working toward a decision.
O’Neill answered Friday’s question by reading the standard jury instruction on reasonable doubt:
“Although the Commonwealth has the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty, this does not mean that the Commonwealth must prove its case beyond all doubt and to a mathematical certainty, nor must it demonstrate the complete impossibility of innocence. A reasonable doubt is a doubt that would cause a reasonably careful and sensible person to hesitate before acting upon a matter of importance in his or her own affairs. A reasonable doubt must fairly arise out of the evidence that was presented or out of the lack of evidence presented with respect to some element of the crime. A reasonable doubt must be a real doubt; it may not be an imagined one, nor may it be a doubt manufactured to avoid carrying out an unpleasant duty.”
The jury also asked Friday to rehear testimony from Bill Cosby’s civil deposition, which he gave more than a decade ago. O’Neill asked for clarification of that request, as the deposition testimony comprises 45 exhibits. The jury already reheard about a third of that material on Tuesday after submitting a question.
The jury clarified that they wanted to hear Cosby’s testimony about Quaaludes, narrowing their request down to 12 exhibits. After O’Neill read those passages, the jury returned to deliberations at about 10:45 a.m.
Also Friday morning, O’Neill addressed the multiple motions for mistrial Cosby’s lawyers have made, including four during the jury deliberations. The judge confirmed that Cosby was consenting to those requests. He also noted that Cosby’s spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, has made his own pleas for a mistrial in press conferences on the courthouse steps.
Cosby has been charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, for allegedly drugging, then sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004.