LAS VEGAS (CN) – Nine women and three men, none of them black, have been seated as the jury in the O.J. Simpson robbery and kidnapping trial. Trial is expected to begin Monday. Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass said jurors will not be sequestered.
The fourth day of juror questioning moved at a fast clip Thursday, and by mid-afternoon the top 40 finalists were chosen. The 12 jurors and six alternates were picked just before 8 p.m.
Simpson and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges after an alleged sports memorabilia hold-up last year at the Palace Station Casino.
One of Stewart’s attorneys has his own legal problems. Former Louisiana Sen. Charles Jones is charged in Louisiana with filing false federal tax returns in 2001 and 2003 and trying to duck taxes on more than $750,000 in legal fees from July 1995 to December 2003.
Jones pleaded not guilty in February. Trial is set for March 2009 in Monroe, La.
On Thursday, prospective jurors were peppered with questions ranging from topics such as religion and one juror’s alcoholism to Simpson’s previous criminal and civil cases.
Many said they disagreed with the 1995 verdict that acquitted Simpson of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. But they said they could be fair in this case.
More than one admitted to not wanting to be there.
“I don’t really want to be here, due to babysitting problems,” said one potential juror, a nurse’s assistant. “Being a single mom, and being here … I don’t know if I’ll get paid for doing this.”
A former police officer turned salesman acknowledged he answered a questionnaire with fiery language to get himself removed from the case.
“I wanted to scare you so that I wouldn’t have to be here,” he said. “I was hoping (you) would think, ‘This guy is crazy.'”
He changed course somewhat during questioning.
“I’m a firm believer in the system, and (Simpson) won. He is a free man until he comes here.”
Judge Glass prodded him to “look deep inside yourself and say … ‘Yes, I understand how the system works and I can put it aside and give both sides a fair evaluation in this case – or I can’t.'”
The answer: “Unfortunately, I can.”
One juror was excused for his remark, “If someone got away with something like that … you would keep yourself clean, you wouldn’t come back up here and pretty much commit another crime.”
Also Thursday, Glass denied a motion from the media to release the filled-out questionnaires jurors were given. Glass said she would release the unanswered questions after the jury is seated.