OJ plea outrages lawyer

EDWARD HELMORE

Los Angeles

Moments before both sides in OJ Simpson trial rested their cases yesterday, Mr Simpson himself made a surprise statement to the court. It was not made in the jury's presence, and the prosecution lawyer, Marcia Clark, complained it was tantamount to taking the stand without cross-examination.

In his first words since he declared himself to be not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman over a year ago, Mr Simpson, who waived his right to testify, said: "I have confidence, a lot more it seems than Miss Clark has, of [the jury's] integrity and that they will find as the record stands now, that I did not, could not and would not have committed this ... crime."

His statement outraged relatives of the two victims. Judge Lance Ito then instructed the jury on how they will be able to rule when they deliberate after closing arguments next week.

In the biggest setback to the defence the jury will be able to find Simpson guilty of second-degree murder - an instruction Mr Simpson's lawyers have opposed because it will be easier for the jury to convict.

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