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Cosby jurors ask to hear repeat of star defense witness testimony

By David DeKok

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - Jurors deliberating the fate of comedian Bill Cosby on Wednesday asked to hear once again the testimony of the star defense witness and Cosby's interview with the police who investigated the 2004 incident that led to his sexual assault trial.

Judge Steven O'Neil read Cosby's deposition from a 2005 civil lawsuit filed by his accuser, Andrea Constand, but deferred the reading of testimony from defence witness Marguerite Jackson before the jury retired for the night. That testimony will be read to the jury Thursday morning by the court reporter.

Once known as "America's Dad", Cosby is going through his second trial for three counts of aggravated indecent assault of a former friend, Andrea Constand, in the Montgomery County court in Pennsylvania.

Jurors spent six days last year deliberating the same case in the same courthouse before O’Neill declared they were deadlocked.

Constand, 45, a former administrator of the women's basketball team at Temple University, Cosby's alma mater, testified the comedian drugged and sexually assaulted her in 2004.

Constand is one of about 50 women who have made similar allegations against the 80-year-old Cosby going back decades, but hers was the only case recent enough to be eligible for prosecution.

Cosby has denied the charges, saying any sexual contact was consensual. His lawyers said women were fabricating stories in search of money and fame.

After receiving instructions from Judge Steven O'Neill on Wednesday morning, the seven men and five women of the jury raised questions three times.

Two hours into deliberations, the jury, which has been sequestered since the start of the trial on April 9, asked for the legal definition of "consent" in a sexual assault case.

O'Neill said the question could not be answered under Pennsylvania law.

Another question concerned a jury request to see two documents prepared by Jackson outlining her accusations against Constand, which O'Neill denied, and the content of several stipulations about evidence, which he granted. The third question asked for the rereading of the Cosby deposition and Jackson's testimony.

Jackson, who was barred from testifying in the first trial, told the court Constand once told her "it would be easy" to fabricate an accusation of sexual assault against a celebrity to make money.

Cosby has remained free on bail. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the three counts, although sentencing guidelines call for the terms to be served concurrently.

(Reporting by David DeKok; writing by Daniel Trotta and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Michael Perry)