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Allegheny County jurors to be chosen locally in Cosby trial

| Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 10:45 a.m.
In this Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 file photo, Bill Cosby leaves after a hearing in his sexual assault case at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Prospective Allegheny County jurors for the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial will be chosen during a local hearing before traveling about 300 miles east to suburban Philadelphia for sequestration, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Twelve jurors and four alternates from Allegheny County will be chosen from a larger pool, said Kate Delano, spokeswoman for Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele.

Following the selection process, jurors will travel to Montgomery County and stay in a hotel. It's unclear whether they will travel east on their own or be provided with transportation.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court ordered that the jury come from Allegheny County.

The ruling was made after Common Pleas Judge Steven T. O'Neill decided the trial will remain in Montgomery County with jurors from another county. O'Neill is presiding over the trial, which is scheduled to begin June 5. Delano said O'Neill will ultimately determine the size of the jury pool and transportation methods.

Cosby's attorneys previously said their client could not receive a fair trial in Montgomery County. They had requested a jury come from an urban center with “more diverse and opposing viewpoints.”

Cosby is accused of drugging and molesting a former Temple University employee in 2004. He is free on $100,000 bond and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Attorneys for Cosby, 79, have argued his trial should be moved to Philadelphia or the Pittsburgh area. That would make it easier to find unbiased jurors, lawyer Brian McMonagle argued last month. But even then, he said, there was no guarantee Cosby could get a fair hearing.

Allegheny County has a population of 1.2 million, making it the second most populous county in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia County has the highest population.

Delano said jury selection likely will occur a week or two before the scheduled trial.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com.

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