Jury Begins Deliberations As Prosecutor Says Bill Cosby’s Own Words Prove His Guilt

NORRISTOWN, Pa.—It is the words of Bill Cosby
himself that prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele told jurors
Monday in his closing argument. Steele insisted that, if jurors
followed their common sense, they would convict Cosby of three
counts of aggravated indecent assault for the night Andrea
Constand says he drugged and sexually assaulted her. “All the
fancy lawyering,” he told jurors, “can’t get you around your
own words.”

One of the odder things about this trial has been the upsetting
of the norm that prosecutors tend to rely on the accuser’s
account and the defense tends to rely on the defendant’s
account. But it’s the Commonwealth here that, in closings, beat
the drum of Cosby’s words—in this case, words of his clawed
back from the past, his interview with police and multiple
depositions from 2005 and 2006 from Andrea Constand’s civil
suit.

Steele started dramatically, with the phrase “I have three
friends to make you relax” displayed in all capital letters on
a slide for jurors. They were the three pills that Cosby told
police he gave Constand.

“Why on this night does he say this to Andrea Constand?” Steele
asked jurors before launching into another quote from the Cosby
depositions. When Cosby was asked is he had sexual intercourse
with Constand, he had replied, “never asleep or awake.”

“When they are unconscious that is a crime,” Steele told
jurors, “that is a crime because that person is not consenting
to what the person is doing. They aren’t capable of it…a woman
has a right. She can say no. But by doing what he did on that
night, he took away that ability, he took it away from Andrea
Constand. He gave her no choice in the matter. Why? because of
what he wanted.”

Then he pivoted to a list of charges and the law behind each
one, on plain black and white slides, marking off checks for
each part of the case he believed met the burden of the law. It
was a factual yet dry counterpoint to Brian McMonagle’s
fire-and-brimstone closing argument for the
defense.

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The prosecution’s closing stretched on to about two hours, even
longer than McMonagle’s as it turned out. Even when Steele did
get loud, it didn’t carry the same dramatic effect, and having
it come after the lunch break and a previous marathon closing
argument didn’t help. I could only see two jurors, but I did
catch one of them briefly yawning.

But Steele did have other voices he could bring into the
courtroom. He again played the recording of the second phone
call between Andrea Constand’s mother and Bill Cosby, in which
Cosby said he would pay for Andrea’s schooling. It returned to
the courtroom the voice of the woman widely considered the
prosecution’s strongest witness; even
McMonagle in his closing arguments didn’t dare take a swipe at
her, just saying he understood that she was a mother doing what
she did because she loved her daughter.

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Without any commentary, Steele played the entire tape while a
screen scrolled through a transcript.

He then played a message left on an answering machine for the
Constands by “Pete” at William Morris, the high-powered
Hollywood agency that represented Cosby at the time. In it,
“Pete” said he wanted to talk to them on behalf of Mr. Cosby.
The next recording brought in the voice of infamous Hollywood
pit-bull lawyer Marty Singer, also leaving them a message about
setting up an educational trust.

If Cosby is innocent, Steele told jurors, why were all these
people trying to give the Constands money they didn’t ask for?

Steele took his time rebutting the defense’s opening arguments.
Constand’s memories were fuzzy and took time to sort out, he
said, because she had been drugged. He countered
inconsistencies pointed out by the defense by bringing up all
the ways which Constand’s story had remained consistent over
more than a decade. He reminded them that Gianna Constand said
Cosby told her that he was a sick man. He called back to Cosby
saying he had seven prescriptions for quaaludes and kept them
for giving to other people. He presented another slide showing
the similarities between Constand’s claims and those of Kelly
Johnson, who also says Cosby abused her.

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Steele asked why Cosby never told the Constands, who asked
multiple times, that the pills he gave Andrea were Benadryl.
Again, Steele read from Cosby’s deposition.

Q: Did you tell Andrea what they were?

A: No.

Q: Since that time have you told her?

A: No.

Q: Did you tell her they were Benadryl?

A: No.

Cosby’s suggestion that the night was romantic? “I’m insulted
by that,” Steele said. “Drugging the person…is not romantic.
It’s criminal.”

If this was romance, Steele asked the juror, why did Cosby go
back to his bedroom by himself? Why did he leave Constand alone
on the couch without even a blanket, her clothes barely on her
and disheveled?

“To allege that this is some relationship that is going to a
different level doesn’t make sense,” he said. “It doesn’t make
any common sense. That’s not what you do.”

It was, in some ways, a progressive argument. He talked to
jurors about the importance of not judging how Constand acted
afterward. He asked them to remember the power that someone
like Cosby wielded. He told them they could convict if they
believed Andrea more than Cosby; that was enough. Time after
time he hammered home that Constand could not consent and told
them to follow the very definition of the law itself.

“She has a right to say no, you all know that,” he said.
“That’s basic.”

It was the type of argument that readers of this blog might
cheer to hear about. What really matters, though, will be if
jurors agree with him. The jury began deliberations tonight at
5:25 p.m.

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