By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
“Kill Bill,” apparently was on Judge Steven T. O’Neill’s mind just before a jury convicted Bill Cosby of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April.
As the comedian bids to overturn his conviction, courtroom observers recalled the now-infamous moment as O’Neill walked through the courthouse, making a pitstop near the juror deliberation room and belted out “Twisted Nerve,” the song that Daryl Hannah’s character whistled as she was about to murder the bride in the popular 2003 Quentin Tarantino flick.
It’s not clear if O’Neill’s whistling was innocent and without ill intention, but his odd choice of tunes was noticed by those in the courthouse, including the NNPA Newswire.
“On the day of the verdicts, before the jury reached a decision, everyone saw O’Neill walking through the courthouse, which itself was weird, and we all heard the judge whistling outside of where the jurors were deliberating,” said Pauline Knightner, who was at the court the day the jury reached its verdict.
“If you have any doubts that O’Neill should recuse himself, just think about that for a moment,” Knightner said. “He whistles for them to ‘Kill Bill,’ and what’s Mr. Cosby’s name? Bill,” she said.
“Clearly, the judge was sending a message and then the jury comes right out and says they have a verdict? No, I definitely believe something is wrong and I think they should at least let another judge look at all the facts.”
Ursula Mann was also at the courthouse.
“That’s exactly what it was. It was from ‘Kill Bill’ and we were all stunned,” Mann said.
“And right after that, the jury rang and said they had a verdict. It was like the judge sent a message and the message was well-received. Just like in ‘Kill Bill.”
David Black, a writer for the hit NBC television series, “Law & Order,” said he also heard the whistling judge. Black said he went home to listen to the song just to be sure that’s what O’Neill whistled. “That’s what it was. I thought, can you believe this? He’s sending the jury a message,” said Black, who attended the trial daily.
A court spokesperson didn’t respond to messages left by the NNPA Newswire.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele’s spokeswoman Kate Delano hasn’t returned several messages to the NNPA Newswire for comment.
Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt declined to comment.
Steele this week slammed Bill Cosby’s request for a retrial, particularly citing the comedian’s request for Judge Steven O’Neill to recuse himself.
“The claims he raises in his post-sentence motion do not warrant evidentiary development, several have already been rejected, and they are all meritless. It’s time to move on, it is time for the appellate courts to bring this case one step closer to finality,” Steele said.
But observers said, “Not so fast.”
That Cosby has repeatedly asked for O’Neill to step aside in order for him to receive a fair trial appears to have merit in more than one way.
It’s well-documented that O’Neill allegedly has held a grudge against former District Attorney Bruce Castor, who beat O’Neill in an ugly 1998 campaign for county district attorney. O’Neill also allegedly had an affair with an assistant district attorney under Castor which O’Neill, according to Castor, believed Castor leaked the infidelity to O’Neill’s wife.
In a pretrial hearing in which Cosby sought to call Castor as a witness, O’Neill declared Castor as “not credible,” and denied the request.
And, with O’Neill purportedly whistling “Twisted Nerve” within earshot of the jury as they deliberated, it could result in a higher court overturning Cosby’s verdict and sentencing.
“This trial was a terrific example of the travesty of justice in the American courtroom for sex assault trials,” said Paul Saputo, of the Saputo Law Firm in Dallas, Texas.
“When the justice system sacrifices fairness in procedure to tilt the scales, we have a major problem,” Saputo said.
Stacy Brown is a veteran journalist and author of “Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway, Stevie Wonder’s Mother,” “Michael Jackson: The Man Behind the Mask,” and “Fighting Temptation: The Damon Harris Story.” He’s appeared on “Today,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Good Morning America,” “CNN with Don Lemon,” “Anderson Cooper,” “Wendy Williams,” “Howard Stern,” and other shows.