Some in Jury Pool can't put aside Simpson's Past

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press
LAS VEGAS - With other prospective jurors listening, a woman lectured O.J. Simpson on his behavior as a celebrity Tuesday and declared, "I felt he got away with murder."

O.J. Simpson, left, sits in a courtroom with his attorneys Gabriel Grasso, background center, and Yale Galanter during the second day of jury selection for his trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008. Simpson is appearing in court on charges which include burglary, robbery and assault following an attempted robbery at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino in September, 2007. (AP Photo/Ethan Miller, Pool)

LAS VEGAS - With other prospective jurors listening, a woman lectured O.J. Simpson on his behavior as a celebrity Tuesday and declared, "I felt he got away with murder."

Like others questioned for service in Simpson's robbery-kidnap trial, the woman said she would try to be fair. But she became increasingly adamant, disclosing the disenchantment of someone familiar with Simpson's triumphs and disappointed in his fall from glory.

"I'm very opinionated," said the woman. "I don't have any problem giving my opinion and sticking to it."

The exchanges on the second day of jury selection showed the enduring influence of Simpson's 1995 acquittal on charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend Ronald Goldman. Since Monday, 20 of 248 prospective jurors have been dismissed for various reasons.

The 61-year-old former University of Southern California and pro football star is now accused with co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, 54, of kidnapping, armed robbery and other crimes for allegedly stealing items from two sports memorabilia dealers in a confrontation in a hotel room last year. They have pleaded not guilty.

Under questioning by District Attorney David Roger, the prospective juror recalled Simpson's impact on her life.

"I have seven brothers," she said. "Mr. Simpson has been around my life. He's always been there. I don't know what team he played for but I know about the Heisman Trophy. I'm from Southern California. My husband loved him."

Looking at Simpson, she said she thinks celebrities need to watch their behavior in public.

"I think he chose to be a celebrity," she said. "He chose to put himself in the public eye. Everyone is aware of it. He should be a little more self-conscious of his actions. It's different than it would be for me."

Asked whether she was going to treat the case differently because of Simpson's past, the woman said, "I think as far as the first trial, I felt he got away with murder."

Roger asked if she could put aside those feelings and judge the current case on its own terms. At first, she said she could. But, questioned by defense attorney Gabriel Grasso, she said, "I can't be 100 percent sure."

He asked to remove the juror and Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass allowed Roger a few more questions to try to retain the woman. But the judge finally addressed her.

"You said you hope your personal feelings don't interfere," the judge said. "Is there some smidgen in the back of your mind that you think that it might?"

"There's a smidgen," the woman answered, prompting her dismissal.

Reactions to Simpson's first trial and celebrity status dominated the day. Some prospects said they thought celebrities generally got preferential treatment in court.

One woman rejected the idea that Simpson had a "special aura" of privilege but recalled once sitting behind him at a football game. Another woman said she had expected a guilty verdict in Simpson's murder trial, but insisted, "His past has nothing to do with this case." She remained in the prospective jury pool.


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