OJ Simpson jury reaches verdict

2am news: Crowds gather outside court
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The Independent Online
The jury in the three-month civil trial of OJ Simpson reached a verdict early this morning but the announcement was delayed as members of the families of Simpson's alleged victims were held up in traffic on their way to the court house.

The decision was reached on the sixth day of jury deliberations. If the jury of six men and six women find against him he could be forced to pay millions of dollars in damages.

In his criminal trial in October 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the two murders which occurred on 12 June 1994.

Mr Simpson emerged as the chief suspect in the murders of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend, waiter Ronald Goldman, within a few days of their deaths on a Sunday night. It was alleged that he drove the two miles from his West Los Angeles estate to Nicole's home and stabbed and slashed the two to death in a frenzied rage.

Prosecutors set out to establish that a blood trail, and a history of a passionate and occasionally violent marriage, comprehensively proved Mr Simpson the killer. But in a criminal trial laden with racial overtones, and a defence intent on showing Mr Simpson the victim of a racist conspiracy by the Los Angeles police, he was found not guilty. He then fought the wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the families of the victims. Mr Goldman's parents sued for wrongful death, while Nicole Simpson's estate pursued a separate "survivorship" claim for "battery" to avoid putting the couple's two young children on the stand.

The jury in the three-month civil trial were first sent out a week ago. But on Friday Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki dismissed a widow in her 60s, the only black juror. It had emerged that her daughter worked in the office of Los Angeles District Attorney who oversaw the criminal prosecution - which she had not revealed. With the woman replaced by an Asian-American computer programmer, the jury also included nine white members, one Hispanic, and a Jamaican-born man of black and Asian parentage.

Earlier yesterday the jury of six men and six women listened to four hours of readings of evidence, including Simpson's testimony of his activities on the night his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death.