US jury will likely get Cosby case next week: judge

Bill Cosby walks with publicist Ebonee Benson during a break in his sexual assault trial at the Montgomery County Courthouse on April 18, 2018 in Norristown, Pennsylvania
AFP

Norristown (United States) (AFP) – The US jury tasked with finding Bill Cosby innocent or guilty will likely take the case next week as the evidence-phase of his sexual assault retrial moves quicker than planned, the judge said Thursday.

The now frail and isolated 80-year-old entertainer could spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, 45, at his Philadelphia home in January 2004.

“The testimony in this case will probably be concluded early next week. That’s a big difference in where we were before,” Judge Steven O’Neill told the ninth day of proceedings.

“This case will clearly be to the jury sometime next week,” he added. The judge had previously told the sequestered jury in Norristown, Pennsylvania that they should allow for a month-long trial.

On Thursday, jurors were treated to a day of science as opposing toxicologists testified about Benadryl, an antihistamine that Cosby says he gave Constand, and Quaaludes, a 1970s “party drug” that he has testified to obtaining with a view to having sex.

Harry Milman, the defense pharmacology and toxicology expert, said Cosby could not have given Constand Quaaludes, because they only ever came in the form of a white pill.

Constand says Cosby gave her three blue pills. The now disgraced megastar maintains that they were three half-dose pills.

Milman said Constand’s symptoms were consistent with neither Quaaludes nor Benadryl. Constand says she passed out after taking the pills, waking up to find the actor sexually assaulting her.

But Timothy Rohrig, the prosecution expert in forensic toxicology, said the symptoms were consistent with both Benadryl and Quaaludes.

Alcohol would only enhance each pill’s sedative effects, Rohrig said, leading to impaired vision, “mental clouding,” dulled senses, short-term memory impact, and would engineer muscle weakness and clumsiness.

Cosby’s first trial ended in a hung jury in June last year, with a sequestered panel hopelessly deadlocked after six days of testimony and 52 hours of deliberations.

But it trashed the reputation of the man once adored by millions as “America’s Dad” for his role as lovable father and obstetrician Cliff Huxtable on the hit 1984-92 television series “The Cosby Show.”

The defense called their star witness on Wednesday, a former Temple University colleague, Marguerite Jackson, who claims Constand told her she could set-up a celebrity for cash.

Constand says she recognizes Jackson’s name but denies ever rooming with her on basketball away games.

The defense maintains that Constand is a lying, money-grabbing “con artist” who falsely accused the star to bag a $3.4 million civil settlement in 2006 as a way out of financial problems.

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