The jury selection process in the high profile Bill Cosby assault case was wrapped up Thursday, following allegations by the defense that the jury was racially biased.
The Temple alumni’s trial had been previously delayed, after the defense accused prosecutors of unfairly choosing candidates based on race. Prosecutor’s argued that they had chosen a member of the African-American community whenever the opportunity presented itself. “For them to now make the claim that the strike of an individual establishes some type of pattern is, I think unfortunately, not being done for this court but for the media behind us,” DA Kevin Steele argued before the judge.
Following backroom talks, both sides agreed to begin the process of choosing “alternate jurors”, half of which are African-American. While not taking part in the deliberations directly, the alternate jurors will be brought in to replace current jurors, should any be deemed unfit to render a verdict.
Juror selection has been further hampered by media attention surrounding the case, with many jurors being unable to put aside their previous exposure to stories regarding the trial.
The current primary jury stands at seven men and five women. Two of the current twelve are of the African-American community.
Following Cosby’s previous court date, which ended in a mistrial last summer, prosecutors are starting over in their case against the former sitcom star. The prosecution alleges that Cosby drugged and assaulted Temple employee Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Cosby’s defense team won a minor victory Tuesday, after a judge agreed to allow testimony from a former Temple employee who claims that Constand once spoke to her of framing Cosby.
Cosby’s court date is scheduled to begin with opening statements Monday, and is expected to last through the month.