The prosecution in Bill Cosby’s sexual assault retrial formally rested its case today as the defense struggled to have its witnesses ready. The case could be sent to the jury by early next week.
After two toxicology experts spent the entire day Thursday on the stand discussing the effects of Benadryl and quaaludes, Judge Steven O’Neill told jurors to expect a half day of testimony Friday and for testimony to conclude after the weekend. Closing statements could come as early as Monday afternoon.
The trial might even end sooner if not for the defense team. This morning at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, PA, O’Neill chastised Cosby’s lawyers, who said the only witness they had prepared was their expert.
“Once you saw last week,” O’Neill asked, “how did you not have witnesses ready?”
Cosby attorney Tom Mesereau said they anticipated the case to go on longer; before the trial started, O’Neill told jurors to be ready for it last as long as a month. District Attorney Kevin Steele expressed concern the jurors would blame delays on the prosecution. O’Neill said jurors should know it’s the defense’s turn.
“When the rest of today comes and tomorrow comes (the delays) may become obvious, but I’m not going to comment on it,” O’Neill said. “This court is not about blame. Just get your witnesses ready.”
The defense has so far called four witnesses in the retrial including Marguerite Jackson, a Temple employee who said Cosby accuser Andrea Constand once told her she could fabricate a sexual assault claim for money. It is expected to call three witnesses Friday morning.
After the prosecution formally rested its case today, Cosby’s team motioned for acquittal, citing the non-paralyzing effects of Benadryl the prosecution’s expert testified to and the expiration of the statute of limitations, suggesting the alleged 2004 sexual assault Cosby is on trial for against Constand could have happened at an earlier date. It also motioned for a mistrial this morning because of assistant District Attorney M. Stewart Ryan’s questioning of Jackson on Wednesday.
O’Neill dismissed both motions. He has denied a total of six motions by the defense to end the trial.
The defense witness today was toxicology expert Dr. Harry A. Milman, who testified that neither Benadryl nor quaaludes would produce the effects Constand said she experienced. Constand, a former Temple University employee, claims Cosby sexually assaulted her in early 2004 after she was given three blue pills and wine. She said began having double vision, could barely walk and was slurring words before passing out on Cosby’s couch.
“If it caused unconsciousness or inability to move arms and legs,” Milman said of Benadryl, “it wouldn’t be an over-the-counter drug.”
Ryan called into question Milman’s expertise by showing how he had never worked in a forensic toxicology lab or been published in a forensic toxicology journal. He also asked about Milman’s two fiction books, the latest, Milman noted, being a sci-fi thriller released last November.
Rohrig, the expert for the prosecution, said both drugs could cause sleepiness and mental clouding and impact a person’s short-term memory. The effects, he said, could be hastened on an empty stomach or with alcohol.
Cosby said in a deposition he has used quaaludes on women for sex but used Benadryl on Constand. He said each of the three pills were half pills for a total of 1.5 doses. On cross-examination, Cosby attorney Kathleen Bliss was able to get Rohrig to say 1.5 doses was within the recommended guidelines for people to take, and three doses wouldn’t cause an immediate blackout.
Both experts were asked about the color of quaaludes. They said they couldn’t think of them being any color other than white.