Montgomery County Judge Steven T. O’Neill has rejected a request from Bill Cosby’s defense attorneys that he recuse himself, reports the Mercury.
Cosby’s defense attorneys had argued that O’Neill couldn’t issue an impartial sentence, arguing that he had a feud with a prior district attorney in the area, Bruce L. Castor, Jr.
In 1999, O’Neill faced Castor for a nomination for the district attorney position, which Castor won, and which led to a feud between the two men. The defense argued that the feud meant that the ruling rejecting the claim of Castor’s promise that he would never be prosecuted for the 2004 sexual assault was void.
That led to the defense filing that O’Neill needed to recuse himself from the trial, as he could not be considered impartial in the matter. On Wednesday, the judge responded to the motion, denying it in full and remaining on the case, which heads to its sentencing phase shortly.
“This court is confident that it has and can continue to assess this case in an impartial manner, free of personal bias or interest in the outcome. This court simply has no bias against any witness called by the defense or the defendant himself. This court finds no merit in the in any of the bases alleged by the defendant and the court will not recuse itself.”
— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) September 19, 2018
Cosby’s sentencing will begin on September 24, and will likely take place over several days, with the 81-year-old potentially facing the rest of his life behind bars.
With up to a 30-year sentence facing Cosby, lots of attention will be on O’Neill in the coming week. Cosby was convicted of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand in January, 2004, at his mansion in Cheltenham.
This was not the first time that the defense had motioned for O’Neill to recuse himself, with Cosby using his previous lawyers to do so at the very start of his trial. Cosby’s wife, Camille, has also spoken against O’Neill’s perceived bias saying that he has done a “horrible injustice” to both Cosby and the justice system.
The current District Attorney, Kevin R. Steele, said that the motion from the defense was a desperate last-ditch attempt to derail the prosecution of Cosby.
“The defense filing is simply a desperate, 11th-hour attempt by Cosby’s current set of attorneys to stop the sentencing of a convicted felon for his crimes.”