Two days after a Pennsylvania judge declared a mistrial in the sexual assault case against her client Bill Cosby, lawyer Angela Agrusa is back home in Los Angeles. “My body was in a state of clench for the entire week,” the 54-year-old attorney tells The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview about the trial and the week of juror deliberations. Agrusa, who tried the high-profile case with co-counsel Brian McMonagle, adds that there were moments upon hearing juror questions last week that she was absolutely convinced the verdict returned would be guilty.
It wasn’t. Nor did jurors exonerate Cosby of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand in 2004. But Agrusa is, in some fashion, declaring victory nonetheless. “We wanted an acquittal, but a mistrial or a deadlock is the same result as the group of jurors finding him not guilty,” she says. “Prosecutors didn’t have the evidence.”
One thing Agrusa doesn’t quite know – and, surprisingly, neither does almost everyone else – is the breakdown of the jury vote. Per Pennsylvania guidelines, Judge Steven O’Neill told jurors not to discuss what happened during deliberations. Each of the jurors is free to talk publicly about his or her own conclusions, but not about how peers sided. One alternative juror already has told a local radio station he would have voted to convict, but everyone else on the jury has thus far been tight-lipped. Perhaps they are adhering to the judge’s admonishment that “it can never be clearer that if you speak up, you could be chilling the justice system in the future if jurors are needed in this case.”
Despite the secrecy about the jury vote, rumors are flying.
“I heard it was a split,” says Agrusa. “I don’t believe it was a single holdout.”
A spokesperson for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office responds that Agrusa couldn’t possibly know.
Cosby’s attorney also addresses some of the most buzzed-about elements from the trial. For example, during the first week, Cosby’s publicist put out word that the entertainer might indeed take the witness stand. Agrusa says this wasn’t ruled out until the very last moment.
“He is a very charismatic man,” she says. “He is a storyteller. We knew a jury would want to hear from him. We were always prepared to put him on the stand. We were still talking about this on the weekend before close.” The defense team had vigorous discussions on the Friday night and Saturday morning between the first and second week of the trial. They discussed the gameplan for the defense case. Ultimately, they decided to bring just one witness – Det. Richard Schaffer – and the testimony lasted just a few minutes.
Why so brief?
Agrusa explains that she and co-counsel McMonagle were pleased how cross-examinations of prosecutions’ experts went. She feels they “set aside” those opinions and didn’t need to present Cosby’s own experts. Also, while legal observers made much over how the prosecutors were allowed to introduce Cosby’s deposition from his civil lawsuit with Constand – specifically, where he admitted to getting a prescription for Quaaludes to give to women – the defense team ultimately counted it as a factor favorable to a brief defense case.
“The rulings allowed the jury to hear Cosby’s own words,” she says. “The deposition testimony, the statements to police… There was enough of his voice setting out the relationship was consensual.”
Source: The Hollywood Reporter /