“We cannot reach unanimous consensus on any of the counts,” the note to Judge O’Neill said.
In court, the judge then read a new charge to the jury and told them to go back and continue their deliberations.
“Each of you has a duty to consult with one another and to deliberate with a view to reaching an agreement,” he said.
“While you should not hesitate to re-examine your own views and change your opinion if you are convinced that your opinion is erroneous, do not feel compelled to surrender your honest belief as to the weight or effect of the evidence solely because of the opinion of your fellow jurors, or for the mere purpose of returning a verdict,” Judge O’Neill said.
Judge O’Neill’s action represented what is called under Pennsylvania law a “Spencer charge,” explaining what is acceptable in reaching consensus, and instructing them to keep trying, with open minds but without giving up firmly held convictions.
He said the jurors should report back to him as soon as they reach consensus on any of the three charges, even if they are still deadlocked on others.
Mr. Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The three counts are penetration without consent; penetration while unconscious; and penetration after administering an intoxicant without the subject’s knowledge. Each count carries a sentence of up to 10 years.
The defense asked for a mistrial, but Judge O’Neill denied the request.
News of the deadlock seemed to unlock pent-up energy on both sides of the case.
The scene outside the courthouse turned raucous Thursday as people played to the assembled media and a pair of drummers wearing plastic masks — who did not seem to be have a side — pounded out rhythms, contributing to a carnival atmosphere.
A contingent of a half dozen Cosby backers — more than on previous days — chanted slogans on his behalf. Some waved signs with messages including “there is no rape, she consented.”
Zaria Tuck, 27, a nurse from Philadelphia, said it was her first trip to Norristown to join the demonstrators. “Mr. Cosby needs someone who looks like him to support him,” said Ms. Tuck, who is black.
As they have throughout the trial, a handful of Mr. Cosby’s accusers came to the courthouse, too, along with some of the lawyers who have represented them. One of them, Lili Bernard, read aloud a Bible verse, Ephesians 6, which speaks of wearing “the full armor of God” to protect against evil.
For the first time since the trial began, sheriff’s deputies fenced off a portion of the courthouse steps to ensure that the crowd outside did not block access to the building.
When the trial began, Judge O’Neill had asked the jurors to concentrate.
They should not expect, he said, that all the witness testimony and evidence would be available to them again.
But since beginning deliberations, the jurors have made six requests for clarifications or to hear testimony or evidence from the trial a second time. Judge O’Neill told the jurors Wednesday that because he had acceded to their first request to listen to a reading of testimony, he felt compelled to continue to let them review the rest, lest his denials wrongly suggest to them that some evidence was more crucial than others.
Other judges would have told them to use their recollection, he said. “From now on when you ask for testimony, I am compelled to give it to you,” Judge O’Neill said.
Of course this has slowed the process toward a verdict, or at least it seems to have. There is little real sense in the courtroom of just what issues are occupying the jurors, who have been sequestered and are living in a hotel some 300 miles from their homes in Allegheny County.
Judge O’Neill warned them Wednesday about discussing the case with loved ones or digesting anything about the case they might encounter. “If you are watching television, you know you should turn away and stay away from any news sources,” he said.
Mr. Cosby’s lawyer, Brian J. McMonagle, said Wednesday as the defense team left, “We’re all exhausted; we just want to go home and get some sleep”