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Prospective juror can't put Simpson's past behind her

9/9/2008 - NFL

LAS VEGAS -- With other prospective jurors listening, a
woman lectured O.J. Simpson on his behavior as a celebrity Tuesday
and declared, "I felt he got away with murder."

Like others questioned for service in Simpson's robbery-kidnap
trial, the woman said she would try to be fair. But she became
increasingly adamant, disclosing the disenchantment of someone
familiar with Simpson's triumphs and disappointed in his fall from
glory.

"I'm very opinionated," said the woman. "I don't have any
problem giving my opinion and sticking to it."

The exchanges on the second day of jury selection showed the
enduring influence of Simpson's 1995 acquittal on charges of
murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend Ronald
Goldman. Since Monday, 20 of 248 prospective jurors have been
dismissed for various reasons.

The 61-year-old former University of Southern California and pro
football star is now accused with co-defendant Clarence "C.J."
Stewart, 54, of kidnapping, armed robbery and other crimes for
allegedly stealing items from two sports memorabilia dealers in a
confrontation in a hotel room last year. They have pleaded not
guilty.

Under questioning by District Attorney David Roger, the
prospective juror recalled Simpson's impact on her life.

"I have seven brothers," she said. "Mr. Simpson has been
around my life. He's always been there. I don't know what team he
played for but I know about the Heisman Trophy. I'm from Southern
California. My husband loved him."

Looking at Simpson, she said she thinks celebrities need to
watch their behavior in public.

"He chose to put himself in the public eye," she said. "He
should be a little more self-conscious of his actions. It's
different than it would be for me."

Asked whether she was going to treat the case differently
because of Simpson's past, the woman said, "I think as far as the
first trial, I felt he got away with murder."

She told Roger she could judge the current case on its own
terms. But later, questioned by defense attorney Gabriel Grasso,
she said, "I can't be 100 percent sure."

He asked to remove the juror and after a few more questions from
the prosecutor and judge, she was dismissed.

Reactions to Simpson's first trial and celebrity status
dominated the day. Some prospects said they thought celebrities
generally got preferential treatment in court.

One woman rejected the idea that Simpson had a "special aura"
of privilege but recalled once sitting behind him at a football
game. Another woman said she had expected a guilty verdict in
Simpson's murder trial, but insisted, "His past has nothing to do
with this case." She remained in the prospective jury pool.

The court is seeking 12 jurors and six alternates. Clark County
District Judge Jackie Glass has said she wants a pool of 40
prospects who have been thoroughly questioned and not challenged
for cause. At that point attorneys will start using peremptory
challenges in which they need not state a cause for removing a
juror.

By day's end 12 prospects had passed muster on cause. Since
Monday, 20 have been dismissed for various reasons. Sixty-five more
prospects were waiting to be questioned.

The judge has barred publication of the names of prospective
jurors and in court they are only identified by numbers.