Jurors Say Acquittals Were Based on Lack of Evidence, Nothing Else
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ When they finally got down to it, jurors in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial said, their decision wasn’t about race, domestic violence or Simpson’s stature. It was about a lack of evidence.
Lionel Cryer remembers thinking deliberations would be lengthy, especially when he saw an overburdened evidence cart being wheeled into the jury’s deliberation room.
Less than five hours later, counting the lunch break, the 10 women and two men who lived under guard for nine months were united.
Simpson was acquitted.
Panelist Brenda Moran doesn’t think they decided a moment too soon.
``We’ve taken this case serious for nine months,″ she told reporters Wednesday, the day after Simpson’s acquittal was announced. ``It didn’t take us nine more months to figure it out. We’re not that ignorant.″
Since declaring Simpson innocent of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, about half the 12 jurors have spoken publicly about their decision. All are in seclusion, fielding a barrage of interview requests, some of them from tabloids reportedly offering up to $100,000.
Common themes in their statements thus far: evidence, specifically the lack of it, and witnesses, specifically their lack of credibility.
From the moment they left Judge Lance Ito’s courtroom on Sept. 29, the jurors didn’t spend a lot of time second-guessing themselves.
It took them just three minutes to choose a forewoman.
The next workday was the following Monday.
Clerk Deirdre Robertson wheeled in a cart heavy with bound trial exhibits. ``This is going to take a long time,″ Cryer remembered thinking.
He was wrong.
At 10 a.m., Cryer told the Los Angeles Times, they took a straw vote. It was 10-2 in favor of acquittal. One of the two negative votes came from a 61-year-old white woman, Anise Aschenbach, who would later tearfully say that while Simpson may be guilty, the evidence didn’t prove it.
The other dissenter has not been identified.
When deliberations began, everyone spoke at once, said Sheila Woods, a 39-year-old health inspector.
``I guess they were so full over the nine months with things to say, that everyone just started kind of talking at the same time,″ Woods said in an ABC ``Nightline″ interview broadcast Friday.
After the straw vote, some questions were still unresolved. Forewoman Amanda Cooley, 51, sent a note asking for the testimony of limo driver Allan Park to be read back.
Among the questions that jurors said troubled them:
_ Where, exactly, did Park see a shadowy figure at Simpson’s estate?
_ What was that unidentified person wearing?
_ How many cars were in the driveway?
While waiting for the reading, they voted again. Now it was unanimous. As for the initial holdouts, Woods said, ``I think what they did, they listened to the other 10 explain why they thought there was reasonable doubt, and then in the next vote, it was a 12 unanimous not guilty (decision).″
The volatile issues of racism and domestic violence did not sway them, Woods said.
After hearing Park’s testimony read back in court, jurors returned to the deliberation room and spent only a few minutes concluding his answers were contradictory.
They sent a note asking for verdict slips. Forewoman Cooley filled them out.
After they filed back into the courtroom, Ito ordered their verdicts sealed until Tuesday to give all trial attorneys time to return to court.
Monday night, jurors packed and had a little party at the downtown Inter-Continental Hotel, where they had lived since Jan. 11.
On Tuesday, their verdicts were read.
Aschenbach, in an ABC telephone interview last week, tearfully explained why she changed her original not-guilty vote.
Lead detective Philip Vannatter ``made misstatements″ on the witness stand, she said. Former detective Mark Fuhrman, discredited as a lying racist, cast too much doubt on the most prized evidence _ a bloody glove found on Simpson’s estate.
``I thought it was possible it was planted,″ Aschenbach said. ``And most of the evidence was DNA evidence and that’s what was so shaky.″
Moran dismissed the trial issue of domestic violence.
``This was a murder trial, not domestic abuse,″ Moran said. ``If you want to get tried for domestic abuse, go in another courtroom and get tried for that.″
Gina Rosborough, a 29-year-old postal worker, voiced her opinion on Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated talk show ``If he committed such a bloody crime, then there should have been more blood in that Bronco that this just little speck that we saw.″
Beatrice Wilson, 72, said in a brief telephone interview with The Associated Press that jurors did not rush to judgment. ``We was in there nine months,″ she said. ``All the whole time we was there we had plenty of time to think.″