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Alternate juror says he would have convicted Cosby

| Monday, June 19, 2017, 8:36 a.m.
Bill Cosby exits the Montgomery County Courthouse after a mistrial in his sexual assault case in Norristown, Pa., Saturday, June 17, 2017. Cosby's trial ended without a verdict after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision.

An alternate juror in the Bill Cosby sexual assault trial told a Pittsburgh radio station that he probably would have voted to convict the former comedian and TV star.

Cosby's case ended in a mistrial after more 50 hours of deliberation by the Allegheny County jury resulted in a deadlock. Mike McCloskey told WDVE-FM (102.5) on Monday that he and other alternates were kept separate from the other jurors during the deliberations, but the alternates listened to all of the testimony in case a juror had to be excused for illness or another reason.

“I was ridiculously sick,” McCloskey, 43, of Pittsburgh said of learning about the mistrial. “We didn't even get a decision, so that made me more sick.”

McCloskey posted his juror ID badge on Facebook to prove that he was on the alternate jury.

He said of the six alternate jurors: “I would say we would have voted to convict.”

He then revealed his own view: “I would have probably convicted based on the evidence I heard.”

Judge Steven O'Neill declared a mistrial Saturday after the jury of seven men and five women deliberated for five days in Montgomery County. He has also sealed the jury list and cautioned jurors that speaking out could adversely impact a retrial.

O'Neill could rule soon on a request to release juror names filed by news outlets including Philadelphia Media Network, parent company of the Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com.

Their Philadelphia attorney Eli Rogers said the press has a constitutional right to the jurors' names.

“This information is of extraordinary public importance,” Rogers said.

On Monday, prosecutors filed a motion saying they oppose the release of juror names.

“If the press saturates the nationwide media market with stories about jury deliberations, including juror opinions about the evidence, it may make the parties' ability to select a fair and impartial jury more difficult,” Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele, who prosecuted Cosby, wrote in the motion. “The qualified right to juror names was intended to promote fairness and impartiality in the justice system, not undermine it.”

Steele also wrote: “Although jurors may choose to come forward to the media of their own volition, that should be their choice.”

Jurors returned home to Pittsburgh via charter bus around 6 p.m. Saturday. An Allegheny County sheriff's deputy denied the media access to the jury members when they arrived at the East Busway's Penn Station.

At one point, Allegheny County Common Pleas President Judge Jeffrey A. Manning drove out of the restricted area. Asked why the media could not approach the jurors, he shrugged his shoulders and drove off.

On Monday, Manning told the Trib that he met with the jurors when they arrived at the busway.

“I briefly explained to them they have a First Amendment right to talk to whoever they choose, but they are not required to do so,” he said. “Each and every one of them chose not to speak to the media.”

Chief Allegheny County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Kraus said Allegheny and Montgomery counties coordinated the dropoff point on the busway to enforce O'Neill's order protecting the jurors' identiities.

“Had we handled the situation differently and exposed their identities to the media, we very well could have violated that order,” Kraus said. “They didn't wish to speak to the media, to be quite honest.”

McCloskey said he had hoped for answers on the bus ride hope. But the jury stayed quiet.

“It was the craziest, eeriest bus ride I've ever taken, so I really don't know,” he said.

Jurors were selected in Allegheny County because Cosby's attorneys argued that pretrial publicity would make it difficult to find impartial jury candidates in Montgomery County, where Cosby lives.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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