Bill Cosby’s sexual-assault case appears to be headed toward an evidence hearing after a Pennsylvania judge refused to halt the criminal proceedings and ask the state Superior Court to review a key pretrial issue.

The 78-year-old TV star is accused of drugging and violating an ex-Temple University employee at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004 and could get 10 years in prison if convicted. The defense insists Cosby had a promise from a previous district attorney he would never be charged over the encounter.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill found the evidence of such an agreement lacking after a hearing this month. Cosby’s lawyers then asked him to approve an immediate appeal of the issue to the Superior Court. That would have likely delayed the scheduled March 8 preliminary hearing.

However, O’Neill in a ruling Tuesday said the legal question involved does not warrant a direct appeal.