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NORRISTOWN, Pa. (Reuters) - The jury deliberating entertainer Bill Cosby's fate at his sexual assault trial will return on Saturday after yet another marathon 12-hour session on Friday failed to produce a unanimous verdict.
Since Thursday morning, when the jurors told Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven O'Neill they were having trouble reaching agreement, they have spent nearly 24 hours either discussing the case in a conference room or re-hearing trial testimony in the courtroom.
All told, the deliberations, which began on Monday, have lasted approximately 52 hours - longer than the trial testimony.
Cosby's lawyers have repeatedly urged O'Neill to declare a mistrial, given the length of the jury's debate, but the judge said on Friday he could not intervene without a fresh signal that jurors remained deadlocked on the three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Cosby, 79, once one of the country's most beloved entertainers, is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. About 60 women have made similar allegations, although only Constand's is recent enough to sustain a criminal prosecution.
Cosby has denied all of the accusations, which have shattered the reputation he built as "America's dad" while starring in the 1980s hit TV series "The Cosby Show." He has said the encounter with Constand was consensual.
O'Neill and Cosby's lead lawyer, Brian McMonagle, clashed on Friday, with the defense attorney complaining that the jury was essentially getting a replay of the entire trial. But the judge said he would allow the jury to work toward a verdict as long as it wanted.
O'Neill also appeared to take issue with comments that Cosby's spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, made to the media on Thursday night, when he said the judge should end the trial and send the jurors home for good. McMonagle has said Wyatt was not speaking at his direction.
If the jury cannot break its impasse, the judge would have to declare a mistrial. In that case, prosecutors would have the option of seeking to retry Cosby before a new jury.
The jury has spent days reviewing large chunks of trial testimony, including both Cosby's and Constand's accounts of the night in question.
Cosby did not testify but his version of the encounter was shown to jurors in the form of a police interview he did in 2005, as well as sworn depositions he gave in 2005 and 2006 during Constand's civil lawsuit.
Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Trott