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
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas