Tense LA awaits riot case verdict

HISTORY, in all its nastiness, appears to be replaying itself in Los Angeles. Only six months ago the city spent a week on tenterhooks as jurors squabbled over the fate of two police officers who beat Rodney King. Now, it is enduring another agonising wait.

Once again a jury is deliberating in a case with strong racial overtones and, some believe, the potential to bring violence to the streets: the beating by young black men of Reginald Denny, a white lorry driver, during last year's Los Angeles riots. Once again those on the jury are bickering furiously.

Judge John Ouderkirk gave jurors the day off yesterday after more than six days of tension that has led to personality clashes in which several jurors sent notes to the judge indicating that they were at loggerheads. One said 'a very serious problem' had surfaced with another juror.

The jury is weighing the fate of Damian Williams, 20, and Henry Watson, 29, who are accused of offences during the attack on Mr Denny and others. The driver, who was dragged from his truck and pounded with missiles, suffered severe injuries.

But there are fears that if they are found guilty of attempted murder, a charge that is certain to result in hefty jail sentences, there will be a furious protests among many blacks who will contrast the outcome of this trial with the result of the King trials. In the second King trial two policemen were jailed for 30 months for the horrific attack because they were convicted of a lesser offence of civil rights violations; in the first state trial, all four officers were acquitted, sparking the LA riots. Defence lawyers have asked the judge to tell jurors that they are not entitled to 'even the score'.

The Denny jury has had a difficult time. Two left before deliberations began after being taken ill. A third, was removed after allegedly discussing the case with neighbours; he told them (before the defence opened) that he thought the defendants were guilty. Unusually the jury now comprises 10 women and two men, including four blacks, four Latinos, three white people and one Asian.

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
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower