NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The Latest on Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial (all times local):

9:17 a.m.

After a showdown over race, the jury picked to decide Bill Cosby’s fate in the first big trial of the #MeToo era ended up mirroring the gender and racial makeup of the group that deadlocked last year: seven men and five women — 10 white, two black.

Race dominated Wednesday’s jury selection.

Cosby’s lawyers alleged a member of the prosecution team made a disparaging remark after prosecutors rejected one of the few black women considered for the case. The defense, which argued nixing her was illegal, never revealed the remark they claim was said and eventually agreed to pick more jurors.

District Attorney Kevin Steele rejected the allegations, saying that prosecutors had no problem seating the two other black people who had appeared for individual questioning. He contended that Cosby’s lawyers were playing to the media.

“There’s absolutely no legitimacy to this,” Steele said.

Both sides returned to court on Thursday to select six alternates. Cosby stumbled slightly getting out of an SUV and then put a hand up to say he was OK before walking into the courthouse.

The battle over the black juror’s removal highlighted a vast racial disparity that limited the number of black people available for consideration in the suburban Philadelphia jury pool.

Just 10 of about 240 prospective jurors questioned on the first three days of jury selection were black, or about 4.2 percent. The black population in Montgomery County is about 9.6 percent black, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates.

The county says the names of people called for jury duty are selected randomly from a master list that combines voter registration records and driver’s license records.

Two of the six black people in an initial group of 120 potential jurors were invited back for individual questioning and wound up getting picked for the jury. The woman rejected on Wednesday was the only black person to reach that stage.

The jury for Cosby’s first trial was selected from about 300 miles (483 kilometers) away in the Pittsburgh area. The retrial jury is being picked from the same county where the 80-year-old Cosby is on trial on charges he drugged and molested a woman in 2004.

“This man faces the rest of his life in jail,” lawyer Kathleen Bliss said, arguing Cosby, who is black, deserved to have more people on the jury who looked like him.

Cosby’s lawyers had appeared ready to strike at the first instance of prosecutors blocking a black juror, producing a legal brief that argued the move violated a 32-year-old Supreme Court ruling that prohibits prosecutors from excluding prospective jurors because of their race. The defense had made the same argument on Tuesday regarding the prosecution’s exclusion of several white men, but O’Neill rejected it.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty. He says the encounter with former Temple University women’s basketball administrator Andrea Constand was consensual.

The retrial jury appeared to skew younger than the hung jury from last year’s trial. Eight of the jurors picked this week are middle-aged men or women. The rest are millennials or on the cusp of middle-age.

Last year’s panel included a man in his 80s who told reporters he was suspicious of Constand’s story and suspected that “politics was involved” in reviving the decade-old case with “no stained clothing, no smoking gun, nothing.”

The man, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the deliberations, had insight into what jurors could be in for when they deliberate the charges.

“Crying by men and by women and more than one,” he said. “And the tears came towards the end, it was so tense.”

Prosecutors plan to call as many as five additional accusers in a bid to portray Cosby — the former TV star once revered as “America’s Dad” for his family sitcom “The Cosby Show” — as a serial predator.

 

April 4  4:55 p.m.

The jury that will weigh sexual assault charges against Bill Cosby was filled out Wednesday even as the comedian’s defense team accused prosecutors of racial discrimination for excluding a black woman from the panel.

Cosby’s lawyers alleged a member of the prosecution team made a disparaging remark after a black woman was removed from consideration. They didn’t reveal in open court what they claim had been said, but sought to use the remark as evidence that prosecutors illegally removed the woman from the jury pool on the basis of her race.

Prosecutors pushed back, noting two black jurors had been seated, and the judge said he didn’t believe the prosecution had any “discriminatory intent.”

Cosby’s lawyers eventually relented, and once jury selection resumed, three white men and a white woman were quickly placed on the panel. That brought the total number picked over three days to 12 — a full jury. Six alternates also have to be picked.

The main panel consists of 10 whites and two blacks. The jury has seven men and five women.

The battle over the black juror’s removal highlighted a vast racial disparity in the suburban Philadelphia jury pool that limited the number of black people available for consideration.

Just 10 of about 240 prospective jurors questioned on the first three days of jury selection were black, or about 4.2 percent. The black population in Montgomery County is about 9.6 percent black, according to the latest U.S. Census estimates.

The county says the names of people called for jury duty are selected randomly from a master list that combines voter registration records and driver’s license records.

On Wednesday, Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss said in court that someone connected with the defense team heard someone on the prosecution side say “something that was discriminatory and repulsive” after the black woman was dismissed.

“By all appearances, she was a perfectly qualified juror who stated that she could be fair and impartial,” Bliss said, adding there was no explanation for the woman’s removal “other than her race.”

District Attorney Kevin Steele responded there was “absolutely no legitimacy” to the defense’s challenge, adding that prosecutors had no problem seating the two other black people who’d appeared for individual questioning.

“Of the two opportunities we have had to take a member of the African-American community, we have done so,” Steele told Judge Steven O’Neill. “For them to now make the claim that the strike of an individual establishes some type of pattern is, I think unfortunately, not being done for this court but for the media behind us.”

Steele didn’t give a reason why the prosecution used one of its seven peremptory strikes on the woman, who had said she could ignore what she knows about the Cosby case and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct in order to serve as an impartial juror. She also said being a domestic violence victim wouldn’t color how she serves.

Cosby’s lawyers had appeared ready to strike at the first instance of prosecutors blocking a black juror, producing a legal brief that argued the move violated a 32-year-old Supreme Court ruling that prohibits prosecutors from excluding prospective jurors because of their race. The defense had made the same argument on Tuesday regarding the prosecution’s exclusion of several white men, but O’Neill rejected it.

Cosby, who is black, is accused of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He says the encounter with the former Temple University women’s basketball administrator was consensual.

Prosecutors plan to call as many as five additional accusers in a bid to portray Cosby — the former TV star once revered as “America’s Dad” for his family sitcom “The Cosby Show” — as a serial predator.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

As Wednesday’s session got underway, a judge gave The Associated Press and other media organizations more access to jury selection.

Media lawyers had challenged an arrangement that forced reporters to watch the group questioning part of the process on a closed-circuit feed from another courtroom. The camera showed the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors who were being questioned as a group. Montgomery County President Judge Thomas DelRicci agreed to move the camera to the back of the courtroom so the media could see the potential jurors.

1:15 p.m.

Bill Cosby’s lawyers have agreed to move ahead with jury selection after alleging prosecutors removed a black woman from consideration because of her race.

Jury selection in the comedian’s sexual assault retrial was halted for several hours Wednesday after the defense challenged the woman’s removal. Defense lawyers say a member of the prosecution team was overheard making a disparaging remark after prosecutors used one of their challenges to have the woman dismissed as a potential juror.

Prosecutors pushed back, noting two blacks have been already been seated as jurors.

Cosby’s lawyers agreed to let jury selection proceed.

Cosby is charged with drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2012. His first trial ended in a hung jury.

___

12:05 p.m.

Bill Cosby’s lawyers are alleging a member of the prosecution team made a disparaging remark after prosecutors removed a black woman from consideration as a prospective juror in the comedian’s sexual assault retrial.

The 80-year-old comedian’s lawyers are trying to use the remark as evidence that prosecutors were discriminatory in wanting the juror off the case. Cosby lawyer Kathleen Bliss said Wednesday that a member of the prosecution team was overheard saying “something that was discriminatory and repulsive.”

District Attorney Kevin Steele says “there’s absolutely no legitimacy” to the defense challenge. He says prosecutors had no problem seating the two other black people who’ve appeared for individual questioning so far.

Judge Steven O’Neill has ordered both sides into chambers to talk it over.

___

Bill Cosby’s lawyers scored a pair of rulings crucial to their strategy of casting the 80-year-old entertainer as the victim of a shakedown scheme involving false accusations of sexual assault, but they could not get the one prospective juror who seemed most willing to consider the idea that many of the women coming forward in the #MeToo movement were “jumping on the bandwagon,” but prosecutors used a challenge to send him home.

The defense wanted a man who said he thought many of the women coming forward in the #MeToo movement were “jumping on the bandwagon,” but prosecutors used a challenge to send him home.

They agreed on six other jurors, bringing the two-day total to seven as jury selection headed into a third day Wednesday.  They already have eliminated more than 200 potential jurors.

A dozen people were invited back for individual questioning Wednesday as the prosecution and defense look to fill 11 remaining spots. A third batch of 120 potential jurors was also called to the courthouse in suburban Philadelphia.

Cosby chatted with lawyer Kathleen Bliss in court, saying, “How are you this morning!” She replied, “bright eyed and bushy tailed.” He then feigned a glance behind her, as if looking for a tail.

As Wednesday’s session got underway, a judge gave The Associated Press and other media organizations more access to jury selection.

Media lawyers had challenged an arrangement that forced reporters to watch the group questioning part of the process on a closed-circuit feed from another courtroom. The camera showed the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers, but not potential jurors who were being questioned as a group.

Montgomery County President Judge Thomas DelRicci agreed to move the camera to the back of the courtroom so the media could see the potential jurors. The judge refused to make room in the crowded courtroom for a pool reporter, but said if the jury pool did not fill the room to capacity, he’d allow reporters to attend live.

No major rulings were expected Wednesday after the trial judge opened Tuesday’s session by issuing decisions favorable to a defense team that tried to force him off the case last month over his wife’s work with sexual assault victims.

Judge Steven O’Neill granted the Cosby’ team’s request to call a woman who says accuser Andrea Constand talked about framing a celebrity before she lodged allegations against him in 2005. The judge also ruled that jurors can hear how much Cosby paid Constand in a 2006 civil settlement.

Jury selection moved briskly on Tuesday until late in the day, when a second pool of potential jurors proved more opinionated and less willing to serve than the panel that produced the first seven.

Two-thirds of the group said they already had formed an opinion about Cosby’s guilt or innocence, and all but about 20 people begged off the case, saying it would be a hardship to serve.

Two of the people who made the cut said they had no knowledge of the Cosby case.

Five of the jurors picked so far are white and two are black, with four men and three women.

Cosby has pleaded not guilty to charges he drugged and molested Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He says the encounter with the former Temple University women’s basketball administrator was consensual.

O’Neill’s ruling allowing Marguerite Jackson to testify was at odds with his decision to block her from the first trial, which ended in a hung jury. O’Neill did not explain his change of heart but issued one caveat, saying he could revisit her testimony after Constand takes the stand.

During the first trial, O’Neill ruled that Jackson’s testimony would be hearsay after Constand testified she did not know the woman. Since then, prosecutors have told Cosby’s lawyers that Constand had modified her statement to acknowledge she “recalls a Margo.”

Jackson, a longtime Temple University official, has said that she and Constand worked closely together, had been friends and had shared hotel rooms several times. Jackson says Constand once commented to her about setting up a “high-profile person” and filing a lawsuit.

Constand’s lawyer has said Jackson is not telling the truth.

Jackson’s availability as a witness for Cosby could be crucial to a defense plan to attack Constand’s credibility.

O’Neill hinted at a pretrial hearing last week that he might keep jurors from hearing Cosby’s testimony from a deposition in Constand’s lawsuit about giving quaaludes to women before sex — another potential boon to the defense. He said he would not rule on that until it is brought up at the retrial.

O’Neill previously gave a boost to the prosecution, ruling they can call five additional accusers in a bid to portray Cosby — the former TV star once revered as “America’s Dad” for his family sitcom “The Cosby Show” — as a serial predator.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission, which Constand has done.

– MICHAEL R. SISAK, Associated Press

 

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