OJ was framed, jury told

Urged by OJ Simpson's defence to do the "politically incorrect" thing and "give him his life back", jurors in Mr Simpson's civil trial were due to retire for their first day of deliberations yesterday.

Hammering home the claim that the Los Angeles police had set out to frame "the big fish" for double murder, his attorney Donald Baker said that the evidence against his client was "contaminated, compromised or corrupted ... OJ Simpson simply didn't do it".

The families and estates of Mr Simpson's ex-wife Nicole and waiter Ronald Goldman, found stabbed and slashed to death at her home on 12 June 1994, have sued him for damages in a three-month trial. He was found not guilty of their murders in criminal court in 1995.

The Simpson saga threatened to take a new twist yesterday, when Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki called an "indefinite recess" and two jurors, a white man in his thirties and a black woman in her sixties, were escorted into a nearby empty courtroom by sheriff's deputies. After a brief pause the closing arguments resumed.

The jurors were to be given eight questions to answer to establish whether Mr Simpson is liable for "wilfully and wrongfully" causing the death of Mr Goldman and committing "battery", "oppression", and "malice in the conduct" against Nicole.

He cannot be sued directly for her death because the couple's young children were not called to the stand. Most legal analysts believe the trial has gone badly for Mr Simpson. He was cross-examined about his conflicting accounts of the night of the murder and faced new photographic evidence that he wore the Italian-designed shoes whose prints were found at the murder scene.

There are five female and seven male jurors. In stark contrast to the racial make-up of the criminal jury, nine are white, with one Hispanic woman, one black woman, and one man of Jamaican-Asian descent.

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