Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial concluded in a hung jury last Saturday, after six days of deliberations, one day of proceedings, and just one defense witness. To call the results surprising would be a bit of an understatement, especially after 50 women came forward with similar allegations—though only Andrea Constand’s made it to trial, because her accusations of drugging and molestation by Cosby hadn’t passed the statute of limitations—in recent years. That, and Cosby’s defense consisted mainly of insulting the plaintiff, which suggested his lawyers, Brian McGonagle and Angela Agrusa, hadn’t put together much of a strategy. Not so, says Agrusa, who talked to The Hollywood Reporter after the deadlocked jury admitted it couldn’t reach a decision on the matter.
In the interview, Agrusa, who served as Cosby’s co-counsel, describes the plan she and McGonagle formed. They considered putting Cosby on the stand, but then didn’t; they were confident that putting only one witness on the stand was sufficient, until they weren’t. They experienced a “rollercoaster of emotions” during the nearly weeklong jury deliberations, feeling the outcome was becoming more or less favorable with every question. The lawyers also appeared to put a lot of stock into Cosby’s fame, as Agrusa tells THR: “He is a very charismatic man. 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.” And when the jury couldn’t come to an agreement on the verdict, they felt victorious, despite not getting quite the result they wanted. “We wanted an acquittal, but a mistrial or a deadlock is the same result as the group of jurors finding him not guilty,” Agrusa says, presumably with a straight face.
But a mistrial isn’t really the same as finding someone not guilty, which is why Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele almost immediately announced his intentions to retry Cosby. When asked about defending her client on the same charges again, Agrusa says she doesn’t think a second trial will yield a different outcome: “I believe that the Commonwealth had to state [the intention of a retrial] when they stated it. They have a lot of searching to do when they make a decision. I hope they don’t [retry]. I don’t think the outcome would be any better for them. … Everyone knows that cases don’t get better with time.”
Jurors have been instructed not to discuss how the vote was split, which means we’ll probably never know if there was just one person who was swayed by that final “Hey, hey, hey,” but Agrusa is convinced the divide was greater than that. “I heard it was a split,” she says. “I don’t believe it was a single holdout.”