Tensions of OJ trial spill over the state line sepa

FROM PHIL REEVES

in Los Angeles

Perhaps the most telling recent episode in the double-murder trial of OJ Simpson happened not in the Los Angeles courtroom where the drama is being played out, but hundreds of miles away in Texas.

After four weeks, a mock jury which had been monitoring the trial for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram disbanded in chaos. Tempers became so frayed that the newspaper sent them home, concluding it could no longer assure their personal safety.

The 10 panellists - who included two blacks - were volunteers. There is no reason to assume that their views are shared by Mr Simpson's mostly black jury. But their divisions typify the emotions, many of them race- related, that the case is generating.

This week, anger flared in the courtroom. Christopher Darden, a public prosecutor, has long balked at Mr Simpson's lawyers, almost jeeringly characterising himself as a "blue-collar" attorney slugging it out with "dream-team" millionaires.

But when Johnnie Cochran, Simpson's lead counsel, suggested that the prosecution "obviously didn't know how to try" the case, he flew off the handle, engaging in a rapid-fire exchange with Judge Lance Ito which led to him being cited for contempt of court. The judge only relented after Mr Darden grudgingly apologised.

Tensions are so high that Judge Ito has decided to shorten the daily hearings. But it is surprising they are most keenly felt by prosecutors, for Mr Cochran must surely reflect that his plan has not gone as smoothly as he would have wished.

The first setback involves Rosa Lopez, a maid who worked next door to Mr Simpson's mansion and claims she saw Mr Simpson's Bronco parked outside his estate at the time he was allegedly out murdering his ex-wife Nicole and Ron Goldman.

Yesterday, Ms Lopez appeared in court and tearfully described how she had been harassed by the media. She said she intended to leave the country immediately for her native El Salvador, a move that the defence is expected to contest.

The defence also once hoped to produce Mary Anne Gerchas, a jeweller, who claimed to have seen four men running from the murder scene on the night of the killings. But Ms Gerchas, who has dozens of outstanding lawsuits against her, has been arrested on unrelated fraud charges and is unlikely to appear.

Such blows must alarm Mr Simpson's lawyers, who continue to hammer the police and coroner's officials over blunders in the investigation. But the trial has a long way to go, and the chances of a hung jury remain high - as the Texans proved.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Head Porter / Concierge

£16000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks