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Gaming Guru

Melissa Arseniuk

Jury reaches verdict in O.J. Simpson trial

4 October 2008

BULLETIN — The jury has reached a verdict in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery/kidnapping trial. There are no details yet.

Jury deliberation, which began this morning in O.J. Simpson's armed robbery/kidnapping trial, are continuing this evening.

The former All-Star running back and his former golfing buddy, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, face 12 robbery, weapons and kidnapping charges stemming from a run-in last year with two memorabilia dealers in a Palace Station hotel room.

If convicted, both men could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

District Court Judge Jackie Glass read the 12-person jury and six-person group of alternate jurors 48 pages of instructions before closing arguments were heard Thursday.

They have been considering each of the 12 charges the state has laid against Simpson and Stewart, including two charges of kidnapping with a deadly weapon, which carries a possible life sentence with no parole for at least five years. About 5:30 p.m., a court spokesman said the jurors have asked for dinner to be brought to them as they continue deliberating. The spokesman said he did not know if they were close to making a decision.

The charges they face include 11 felonies (Conspiracy to commit kidnapping; conspiracy to commit burglary; burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon; and two counts each of first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon; robbery with use of a deadly weapon; assault with a deadly weapon; and coercion with use of a deadly weapon. They also face one gross misdemeanor, conspiracy to commit a crime.

The jury has the power to drop "use of a deadly weapon" from the nine weapons-related charges if they choose to do so.

Simpson has said his reconnaissance mission was launched to retrieve items that belonged to him. The former NFL star has also said that no weapons were involved, but two of the six men who accompanied him that day, Michael McClinton and Walter Alexander, testified that not only did they pack "heat" during the raid, it was Simpson that asked them to bring the guns.

Both gunmen have signed plea agreements with prosecutors, as have the other alleged co-conspirators. Simpson and Stewart were never offered pleas from the state.

Defense lawyers argued that many of the state's witnesses are untrustworthy opportunists.

"(The state) gave out so many probation get-out-of-jail-free cards and so many probation cards in this case, that they could've got these witnesses to say anything," Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, said.

He called the plea bargains and promises of immunity were "a heck of an incentive" to provide slanted testimony.

"You can't trust those messengers," Stewart's attorney, Brent E. Bryson, said. "And if you can't trust the messenger, you can't trust the message."

The main jurors will deliberate separate from the alternate jurors. Glass instructed the alternates yesterday to not discuss the case amongst themselves.

Jurors did not know who would be on the main jury panel and who would serve as an alternate until just moments before Glass adjourned at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The predominantly white, predominantly female main jury includes one Asian and one Hispanic woman. None of the nine women or three men are African American. The panel of alternates is split down the middle in terms of gender, and includes one black man and one black woman.

If one of the members of the main jury is ejected for whatever reason, the male African American alternate juror will be asked to fill the vacated spot.

Deliberations in this case started 13 years after another jury delivered its verdict in Simpson's first high-profile case.

A jury made up of nine African-Americans, two whites and one Hispanic delivered the not guilty verdict on Oct. 3, 1995.

Much like his current trial, most of the 1995 murder trial's jurors, 10 of the 12, were women.

That verdict was delivered after about an hour of deliberations.

This jury, however, has a lot to consider: a dozen charges, conflicting testimony from 22 witnesses, and surveillance video footage, and hours of contested audio taped conversations.

Jurors will not be able to use audio transcripts during their deliberations. The Metro-produced accounts were highly controversial, as the defense found several errors that they alleged were intentional.

Attribution of dialogue also was an issue, as the LVPD transcript credited verbiage on the recording of a meeting during which much of the alleged robbery was planned to Stewart, who said he was not there.

No official estimates have been made concerning how long the jury will deliberate before returning their verdict.

Glass has said if a verdict is not achieved this afternoon, she may ask jurors to return on Saturday to continue deliberations.