Cosby lawyers press judge to exclude deposition from trial

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bill Cosby's lawyers pressed a judge today to keep his potentially damaging testimony from a lawsuit out of his sexual-assault trial, saying it would be fundamentally unfair since Cosby thought he had a promise from the government that he would never be charged.

The defense insisted Cosby had an oral promise from a former prosecutor that he wouldn't be arrested over a 2005 sexual encounter with Andrea Constand. Cosby never would have testified in her lawsuit if he knew the testimony could one day be used against him in criminal court, they said.

A new prosecutor charged Cosby last year, days before the 12-year felony statute expired. Cosby, 79 and blind, smiled today as he arrived at the suburban Philadelphia courthouse with his handlers.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill, who is hearing pretrial arguments, suggested that Cosby's decision to testify could have been strategic. He noted that there's no evidence Cosby's lawyers called to get the promise in writing before letting him testify. And what's more, he said, they might have thought it was better for him to testify than have him plead the Fifth Amendment and have a civil jury think he had something to hide.

Defense lawyer Brian McMonagle said O'Neill would set a bad legal precedent if he lets in testimony given based on a promise with law enforcement.

"I don't want DAs making promises that they don't later keep," McMonagle argued. "That strikes at the heart of fundamental unfairness."

The pretrial hearing is expected to last two days, with another hearing on the evidence set for December.

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