O J Simpson pleads not guilty to double-murder charges

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The Independent Online
O J SIMPSON, the former American- football star, pleaded not guilty to the premeditated murder of his ex-wife and her male friend when he appeared yesterday in the Los Angeles criminal court.

The prosecution said it has evidence that Mr Simpson had planned the killings. The Municipal Court Judge, Patti Joe McKay, set a preliminary hearing for 30 June.

Afterwards, the prosecutor Marcia Clark said: 'Mr Simpson is charged alone because he is the sole murderer.' The prosecution, referring to Mr Simpson's brief eluding of police on Friday, said his flight would be 'admissible as evidence of guilt'.

Earlier, District Attorney Gil Garcetti said he believed Mr Simpson would ultimately plead he was mentally incapacitated when Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were stabbed and would say:

'I did it but I'm not responsible.'

Mr Simpson can still draw on public sympathy, despite his bizarre flight along the Los Angeles freeways on Friday, watched on television

by many Americans. Spectators shouted: 'Go, O J, go,' at the speeding car.

Prosecutors are trying to focus attention on the ferocity of the killings, in which Nicole Simpson had her throat cut.

The line taken by the defence will depend on the strength of forensic evidence that Mr Simpson was outside his wife's flat on 12 June at the time of the killings. No murder weapon has been found but detectives say they found a bloody glove in Mr Simpson's mansion, two miles away. A jogger identified a car similar to Mr Simpson's parked opposite the victim's house at the time of the murders.

Mr Garcetti says he has not decided if he will seek the death penalty, normal in a double murder. Although a poll says 70 per cent of people hope Mr Simpson, who was born in a San Francisco slum but achieved fame in football, television and the cinema, is innocent, there is also resentment at his gentle treatment by the police.

This is focused less on their failure to arrest him last week, despite strong evidence against him, than the discovery from court documents that they did nothing to stop him beating his wife.

Even with Mr Simpson in an isolation cell in Los Angeles Central Jail, media coverage remains intense. Friday's chase was watched by an estimated 70 per cent of people in Los Angeles with televisions. The University of Southern California, where Mr Simpson first achieved football fame, has removed his shirt from a display cabinet because of fears that it will be stolen as a memento.

Given that it will be impossible to find a jury not familiar with details of the case, the prosecution and defence are giving interviews to influence the public mood. After visiting Mr Simpson on Sunday, his lawyer, Robert Shapiro, said he 'wished me happy Father's Day, and told me to spend the morning with my children. And then he started to cry, and said 'I wish I could spend Father's Day with my children'.'

No way out of the ghetto, page 16

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