The jury that will decide whether Bill Cosby is guilty of sexually assaulting a woman at his Philadelphia-area home 13 years ago began taking shape Monday as five jurors were seated during a lengthy opening day of the famed entertainer s trial. The dueling over jurors, which is set to continue Tuesday, offered some hints at what each side is hoping the panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will look like. Defense attorneys angled to block young white women from the jury, and the prosecution kept an African American woman from being seated. Cosby watched attentively as Judge Steven O Neill individually questioned a parade of potential jurors who took seats at the same table where Cosby sat just a few feet away. Still, at one point Cosby raised his hand and asked court officials to instruct jurors to speak up.
The 79-year-old comedian and actor is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a former Temple University women s basketball team staffer, in 2004. Three white men and two white women were eventually seated on the jury. The jurors, whose names were not disclosed, range from an elderly man who entered the courtroom leaning on a cane to a woman who said she is a mother and appeared to be in her 30s or early 40s. Each side can block seven jurors from being empaneled, and the process quickly began to resemble a chess match as attorneys tried to decide which potential jurors to strike. The emotions of the mostly tense day peaked late in the afternoon when prosecutors huddled to try to decide whether to use one of their seven strikes to block the seating of a middle-aged African American woman who said she d formed some opinions about the case from watching media coverage. While the prosecutors spoke in hushed tones, Cosby laughed so hard that he had to hold his hand over his mouth.
When prosecutors announced their decision to keep the black candidate off the jury, Cosby defense attorney Brian McMonagle frowned in an animated fashion and shook his head, staring out to the audience of reporters gathered in the cramped courtroom with its wheezy air conditioner. Legal experts have speculated that Cosby who has said racism played a role in his prosecution might benefit from having blacks on the jury. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, prosecutor Kevin Steele seemed surprised at the fast pace, saying to a court security guard at a break: We ve got five jurors. Didn t think we d get this far. Pretrial publicity is one of the biggest challenges facing the defense as they size up potential jurors gathered in this large downtown courthouse, which resembles a medieval castle. One-third of the 100 potential jurors said Monday that they ve already formed an opinion about the comedian s guilt or innocence.
Earlier in the day, Cosby sat in a larger courtroom before the entire jury pool, mostly staring impassively at the ceiling. But Cosby s hands clenched ever so slightly and he closed his eyes when O Neill asked about preconceived notions. The relentless media coverage of Cosby s alleged sexual misdeeds was a recurring theme in the questioning, harking to news reports about 60 women who have said Cosby raped, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed them in the past five decades. (He has denied all such claims.) Only about 14 potential jurors said they hadn t heard anything about the allegations against Cosby. Cosby s defense team persuaded the judge to select a jury from Pittsburgh, some 300 miles west of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where the prosecutors lodged the charges, by arguing that potential jurors in Montgomery County, in suburban Philadelphia, were tainted by intense pretrial publicity.
O Neill told jurors they will be bused to Montgomery County to hear testimony in a trial that is scheduled to begin June 5 and expected to last two to three weeks. He said they would be sequestered in a very nice hotel.
Cosby arrived at the courthouse in a tan jacket and a tie spotted with large orange and yellow polka dots. Cosby, who says he s legally blind, leaned heavily on the arm of his public-relations representative and carried a slender wooden cane. When he entered the courtroom he cupped a box of facial tissues in his hand, then slid it around the wooden defense table until it was positioned just within his reach.
Two North Platte men were charged with crimes against women over the weekend, one of them at the Platte River Mall, leading to a series of charges, including assault and shoplifting.
The other man is charged with stalking, and his held on a corresponding high bond.
In the first arrest, police spokesman John Deal said officers went to the Platte River Mall at 4:54 p.m. Sunday to check out a reported disturbance. By the time police arrived, the man had left on foot, but a description was obtained. A patrol officer soon found a man near SunMart on Francis St. who fit the description — Michael E. Cook, 33. According to the police report, a mall security guard said he was called to one of the stores about Cook harassing customers. The guard told Cook to leave, but Cook allegedly shoved and threatened the guard, earning Cook a charge of third-degree assault.
Several juveniles said Cook had approached them and told him he was the owner of one of the stores and could get them discounts. Deal said Cook allegedly grabbed one of them by the arm and his general behavior was disturbing to the juveniles, leading to a charge of disturbing the peace. A woman who works at Claire s said Cook entered the store and told her that he was a secret shopper. Police believe Cook removed a Justin Bieber backpack as well as other merchandise totaling about $100 from the store. He also approached the woman, made contact with her breasts and told her she was good looking, leading to a charge of third-degree sexual assault. Then he left without paying for the merchandise, earning him a shoplifting charge.
When police tried to take Cook into custody, he pulled away and said he wasn’t going anywhere with them. Deal said he resisted handcuffs and police made an effort to get him into the patrol car, so he was also charged with resisting arrest. Deal said Cook is apparently from Colorado and arrived in town in the last couple days, but has no permanent residence here. Cook was given temporary residence at the jail. Bond was set Monday afternoon at $25,000.
In a facebook post, one of the victim s mothers, Deanna Miller of Gothenburg, warned others Monday to be on their guard such things can happen near to home.
Thank goodness my daughter and her friends know not to go with strangers and to stand up to strange men, Miller wrote.
Later Sunday at 9:31 p.m., an officer went to the Subway in the Love’s Truck Stop to check out an harassment complaint. The officer met a 17-year-old woman, who said she used to work with Anthony Navarrete-James at Subway. She said he has been sending her vulgar and threatening messages through Facebook, and will not stop. When she threatened to call the police, Navarrete-James, 25, made a threat about harming the police officer who showed up, according to the police report.
Deal said an officer went to the 1800 block of West 14th with probable cause to arrest Navarrete-James for stalking, because he repeatedly sent threatening messages to the young woman after being told to stop. Deal said Navarrete-James was uncooperative. He taunted the officer on the front porch and when the officer started to arrest him, he pulled away, tried to run inside and close the front door. The officer took Navarrete-James to the ground, at which time he began to claw the officer’s face and eyes, causing minor injury.
The officer was able to handcuff him and take him to jail, where Navarrete-James was formally charged with stalking and felony assault on an officer.
Bond was set Monday at $150,000.
Tim Linafelt | May 05, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Nearly four years after he first carved out a special place for himself on the Florida State football team, Payton Poulin is still inspiring the Seminoles. Poulin, the FSU student who, despite living with the neurological disorder schizencephaly, became a fixture on the Seminoles’ sidelines in 2013 and 2014, will graduate on Saturday. He will participate in commencement ceremonies and, as he did before the 2015 Rose Bowl, he intends to stand up from his motorized wheelchair and walk across the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree from the FSU College of Business.
The last four years I’ve been able to live out my dream, Poulin said. It’s been incredible to be a part of, not only the team but the family. I’m just grateful to be a part of it.
The feeling is mutual among Florida State’s players and coaches.
(Payton) just makes you appreciate the real things in life, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. A native of St. Cloud, Fla., Poulin has loved all things football and Florida State for as long as he can remember. And when he spotted FSU receiver Kenny Shaw in one of his classes in the fall of 2013, Poulin knew he had to introduce himself.
Poulin, though, didn’t just want a picture or an autograph. He wanted to make an impact on the team.
I saw a kid who wanted to be a part of something, said Shaw, now with the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. I reached out to the coaches and said, Hey, I’ve got a guest coming, a classmate, and he wants to be a part of the team. And Payton showed up on time. I gave him a time and he was there.
The security guard almost turned him around, and I was like, He’s good.’ And he just rolled in with me. Ever since then, it’s been such a bond. From there, Poulin was a regular on the Florida State practice fields, where he made himself at home by encouraging players after a tough day or joking with them when they needed a little levity. After a while, Poulin even got comfortable enough to show off the football strategy chops he’d been honing since childhood.
He was making the calls and stuff, Shaw said. I thought he was going to be a coach after a while.
The next few years were loaded with memories that Poulin says will last a lifetime. Asked for a favorite, Poulin laughed and said, Oh man, I have to think about that. There are plenty from which to choose.
When the Seminoles rallied to beat Auburn in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game, Poulin was there in Pasadena, Calif., along with his father, Patrick.
It was the happiest moment of our lives, Patrick Poulin said. And Poulin became a national sensation a year later, when he surprised the Seminoles by standing up from his wheelchair and, with the help of Jameis Winston and DeMarcus Walker, walking several yards after a practice before the Rose Bowl. Video of the scene went viral on social media and aired on ESPN’s SportsCenter that night.
It was truly tremendous, Patrick Poulin said. And I hope that same feeling that I had that day, I have on Saturday.
Poulin’s time as an FSU student may be over, but he still has goals to work toward. With his degree in hand, Poulin intends to enter the professional world and start his own business. More practically, he and his family are working to raise money for a stand-up wheelchair, as well as funds for stem-cell therapy and a van retrofitted with modifications that would allow Poulin to drive.
Fans and friends wishing to support that cause can donate to Poulin’s GoFundMe page. Finally, Poulin hasn’t lost sight of his biggest goal: to one day walk on his own. He’s not there yet. But when he walks across the stage Saturday with the aid of his father and a family friend, Poulin will once again show the Florida State community the resolve and dedication that so endeared him to the Seminoles’ football team.
I’m very proud of him, Shaw said. Graduating and walking across that stage is not something a lot of people can say they did. To see Payton push through all his adversity and get that degree, it’s special.