Alternate jurors selected for Cosby’s retrial

Bill Cosby (center) is escorted into the Montgomery County Courthouse last month. Cosby will be retried for sexual assault on April 9. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

Six alternates were chosen for Bill Cosby’s upcoming retrial on Thursday.

The alternates — comprised of four men and two women — will be sequestered this Sunday evening, along with the jury panel that was finalized on Wednesday. The alternates will attend the trial to hear evidence and arguments along with the jury, but are not involved in deliberations unless one of the originally selected jurors must step down.

The 12-person jury is made up of seven men and five women, which was the same breakdown of the jury during Cosby’s first trial that ended in a mistrial in June. One woman and one man are Black.

Three of the alternates are Black. No other identifying information about the jurors or alternates was released to protect their identities for the highly publicized trial.

On Thursday, a pool of 120 people was questioned as a group, responding to inquiries about topics like their prior knowledge of the case, if they had formed an opinion on Cosby’s innocence or guilt and how personal relationships or experiences could impact their ability to serve as a fair and impartial juror.

During the group questioning, Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor was mentioned in a list of potential witnesses read by Chief Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O’Neill to determine if any of the potential alternates knew them personally. No juror indicated they knew O’Connor personally.

Last week, O’Neill said O’Connor could be called as a witness because of his involvement in the 2005 civil suit settlement agreement between former Temple employee Andrea Constand, the central accuser in the case, and Cosby.

O’Connor represented Cosby in the suit, which has never been made publicly available. Cosby’s defense announced at a pretrial hearing last week that it would seek to enter its details in court.

Once again, the university declined to comment about O’Connor as a possible witness in the trial.

After the group questioning, 74 people were struck of cause — meaning they were unable to serve without bias or prejudice. Twenty-four of the remaining jurors were individually questioned before the six alternates were determined.

The first alternate that was chosen said his wife is a survivor of sexual assault, but it would not prevent him from being fair and impartial. During another alternate’s individual questioning, she said she had previously formed the opinion that Cosby was guilty, but she would be able to base her opinion of the defendant’s innocence solely on the evidence presented in the case.

All of the selected alternates indicated they had heard about Cosby’s case beforehand, but it would not impact their ability to serve as a fair and impartial juror.

The opening arguments for the former university trustee’s retrial are set to begin on Monday at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

Cosby is charged with three counts of indecent assault for allegedly sexually assaulting Constand in his Montgomery County home in 2004.

Grace Shallow
can be reached at grace.shallow@temple.edu Or you can follow Grace on Twitter @Grace_Shallow Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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