Pressure grows for OJ to take the stand

As the OJ Simpson trial limps onwards with its shrinking pool of jurors, the corps of legal experts who now make an excellent living by analysing the case for public consumption in the United States has switched its attention to fresh territory.

The question which now absorbs them concerns what could prove to be the trial's most gripping and decisive moment: will the 47-year-old former football star, who claims to have been too crippled by arthritis to have committed two murders, shuffle into the witness box and tell his side of the story?

Legal experts yesterday claimed that pressure was mounting on Mr Simpson to take the stand, not least because he is an accomplished and articulate performer in public.

This has intensified following a ruling by Judge Ito, the result of an accidental blunder committed in court by a prosecution witness last week. As the jury listened to yet more evidence about DNA, Collin Yamauchi, a criminalist, volunteered the view that he had not expected blood to show up while testing blood-stained items because he had heard that the sports icon had an "air tight" alibi.

Simpson's "Dream Team" of attorneys immediately pounced. They argued that this throw-away remark had opened the door for them to introduce a statement made by OJ Simpson to the police only hours after Nicole Brown, his ex-wife, and Ronald Goldman, a waiter, were found stabbed to death outside her Los Angeles town house on 12 June last year. If Mr Yamauchi knew about the alibi, they said, he may have had inside information from the police about the statement - thus, bringing it into play in court.

After a fierce tussle, in which prosecutors argued that the defence was merely using Mr Yamauchi's slip of the tongue to allow it to bring in Simpson's statement without subjecting him to hostile cross-examination, Judge Ito concluded that it could not be introduced. So Simpson, who plays a key role in his team's strategy decisions, must therefore decide whether he should take the stand.

The consensus among analysts appears to be in favour of the move, even though it carries considerable risks. It has long been clear that OJ Simpson has a hot temper and a short fuse - scarcely desirable characteristics for a man certain to face a relentless grilling from the prosecution. But he is articulate and persuasive and a national celebrity.

"I think in order for the defence to win an acquittal, Simpson must take the stand," said Robert Pugsley, a professor at the Southwestern University School of Law. Several others agreed. Jurors tend to expect an explanation even though the law does not require the defendant to provide one, said Paul Bergman, law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. "If a person is innocent, people like to hear the person get up and say, 'I'm innocent."

In the end, the issue may not arise. Los Angeles was seething with rumours yesterday that yet another juror was about to be dismissed from the case, although the day's hearing opened without any change to the panel. Unconfirmed reports said that a 28-year-old Hispanic woman is under investigation for misconduct and may be kicked out for passing a note.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot