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Jury sent home after failing to reach verdict in Bill Cosby sex-assault trial

Andrew Wyatt, left, leads Bill Cosby, center, as they leave the Montgomery County Courthouse during Cosby's sexual assault trial Picture: David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
By Maryclaire Dale and Michael Sisak

The jury in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial has been sent home after deliberating without reaching a verdict over whether the veteran entertainer drugged and molested a woman more than a decade ago.

A conviction could send Cosby (79) to prison for the rest of his life, completing the stunning late-life downfall of one of the most beloved stars in showbusiness.

Jurors at the court in Norristown, Pennsylvania, were put on the case at about 5.30pm local time and met for about four hours before being sent home late on Monday night, with deliberations resuming in the morning.

The fast-moving case went to the jury of seven men and five women on day six of the trial after closing arguments gave differing portrayals of what happened between Cosby and Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia estate.

Defence lawyer Brian McMonagle said Cosby and Ms Constand were lovers who had enjoyed secret "romantic interludes", insisting the 2004 encounter was consensual.

McMonagle said that while the comedian had been unfaithful to his wife, he did not commit a crime.

Prosecutors said "fancy lawyering" could not save Cosby from his own words – namely, his admission about groping Ms Constand after giving her pills he knew could put her to sleep.

"Drugging somebody and putting them in a position where you can do what you want with them is not romantic. It's criminal," district attorney Kevin Steele said.

Before asking to go back to their hotel, jurors asked to see a portion of Cosby's decade-old evidence from a civil action filed against him by Ms Constand.

They told the judge they wanted the "full context" of Cosby's testimony about the pills he gave to Ms Constand, which he had described to her as "friends".

"I have three friends for you to make you relax," Cosby said he told Ms Constand, according to a deposition transcript reread to the jury.

After the prosecution took five days to outline its side, the defence case consisted of just one witness, a detective, and six minutes of evidence earlier in the day.

Cosby did not take the stand, ending days of suspense over whether the jury would hear directly from him.

Legal experts said testifying would have been a risky move that could have opened the TV star to withering cross-examination about some of the 60 or so other women who have accused him of drugging or molesting them.

He is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault, each one punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.

The black comedian, once known as America's Dad for his portrayal of kindly Dr Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show, suggested recently that race could have played a role in the case against him.

The jury included two black members.

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