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Bill Cosby Trial: Judge Orders Deadlocked Jury to Keep Trying

The jury has deliberated more about 40 hours.
Image: Criminal charges against Bill Cosby in Pennsylvania
Bill Cosby arrives at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.Tracie Van Auken / EPA

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The jury in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial said it was deadlocked Thursday but then deliberated another 10 hours without a verdict after the judge ordered them to try again.

"We cannot come to a unanimous consensus on any of these counts," the sequestered panel said in a note to the judge sent out at 11:06 a.m.

Cosby's legal team made a motion for a mistrial, which Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill denied. The judge instead gave the stone-faced jurors new instructions — known as an Allen charge or a Spencer charge — reminding them of their duty to try to reach a decision.

They went back behind closed doors until 9 p.m., when O'Neill sent them back to their hotel for the night, with instructions to return Friday at 9 a.m.

“You’re exhausted,” the judge told the jurors, who have deliberated for a total of 40 hours over four days.

Cosby's accuser, Andrea Constand, was in the courtroom when the deadlock was announced. Later, the former basketball star posted a tweet of herself tossing a ball through a toy hoop in the courthouse corridor, with the words "Always Follow Through" superimposed on the video.

Outside the courthouse, where relative calm had reigned for more than a week, emotions finally spilled over.

A group of local protesters, holding signs that read "Free Bill," confronted some of Cosby's accusers. A woman wielding a bubble machine and a sign that read "Perseverance for all Survivors" danced down the street with two masked drummers. Cosby's publicist came outside and declared the deadlock a "victory," while others cautioned that the outcome of the trial is still far from clear.

The judge did not set a deadline for how much longer jurors should deliberate on the three counts of aggravated indecent assault, a charge that carries up to 10 years in prison.

Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting Constand in 2004. He contends the encounter was consensual. It's the only criminal case stemming from dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct spanning decades, all of which he denies.

A half-dozen of his accusers have been attending the trial since it began June 5. One of the women, Jewel Allison, told NBC News it was "emotionally devastating" to hear the jurors were at an impasse.

"We had worked so hard, sacrificed so much and prayed so much and didn't sleep enough and didn't eat enough," she said.

"Now I'm praying for a verdict, but it's in God's hands no matter what the verdict is."

Cosby's publicist, Andrew Wyatt, said the jury's indecision was a win for the entertainer. "Today we have really seen Mr. Cosby get the justice he was looking for," Wyatt told reporters.

However, it's not known how the jury is split: whether more people are in favor of conviction or acquittal and how many are on each side. Legal experts also pointed out that sometimes juries do come back with a verdict on at least some counts after being ordered by the court to continue working.

"It's obviously going to be difficult after this many hours of deliberation," former prosecutor Dennis McAndrews, who has been monitoring the trial, said of the chance they reach a verdict.

"But it's not impossible. I've seen it happen," he said. "As Yogi Berra said, 'It's not over 'til it's over.'"

Later in the day, Wyatt held an impromptu press conference outside the courthouse and said the judge should call a mistrial.

“To go 40 hours, pushing and pushing and pushing...” he said. “We definitely want this to end.”

Gloria Allred, an attorney who represents a number of Cosby’s accusers, then marched to the microphone to declare Wyatt’s demand was “bizarre.”

“That’s not how the system works,” she said. “The jury can deliberate for however long they wish to deliberate.”

The jury of seven men and five women — who were chosen in Pittsburgh and bused 300 miles to the courthouse in suburban Philadelphia — got the case on Monday evening.

Signs that they were divided grew over the next two days as they sent out request after request for read-backs of key testimony, including Constand's statements on the witness stand and Cosby's police interview and deposition testimony.