CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Closing arguments set for Tuesday as end of Simpson trial draws nearer

September 23, 1995

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- An end to the O.J. Simpson double murder trial is in sight -- both prosecutors and defense attorneys will begin closing arguments on Tuesday, a year after jury selection began.

Both sides in the long and contentious trial rested their cases Friday, but not before the defendant stood before Judge Lance Ito and proclaimed his innocence.

But jurors didn't hear Simpson say he was confident of their integrity, and they didn't hear him say "I did not, could not and would not have committed this crime." (2.3M QuickTime movie) They did, however, hear Ito instruct them that they could find the former football great guilty of first- or second-degree murder.

Simpson addressed the judge over prosecutor Marcia Clark's vehement objections. Clark said it was possible news of Simpson's statement could reach the sequestered jury through conjugal visits or through phone calls, which are only monitored on one end.

"Good morning your honor," Simpson said, speaking from the defense table. "As much as I would like to address some of the misrepresentations made about myself and my -- uh -- Nicole concerning our life together. I'm mindful of the mood and the stamina of this jury, a jury I have confidence (in), a lot more it seems than Ms. Clark has of their integrity, that they will find as the record stands now, that I did not, could not and would not have committed this crime.

"I have four kids, two kids I haven't seen in a year. They ask me every week 'Dad how much longer?' I want this trial over."

Ito cut him off at that point, saying, "All right, Mr. Simpson, you do understand your right to testify as a witness?"

"Yes, I do," Simpson replied.

"And you choose to rest your case at this time?"

"I choose to do that."

With that, the jury was brought in, and both sides rested their cases.

"I'm very pleased to say that we have no further testimony to present at this time, and as difficult as it is, the defense does rest at this time," Cochran said.

Clark told the court, "We ask the court to receive all of the people's exhibits, and the people rest."

The jury was then given instructions, a process that took about 40 minutes. Ito noted that when closing arguments get under way Tuesday, it will have been a year to the day since jury selection began. The jury was then excused for the long weekend.

Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti released a statement regarding Simpson's comments in the courtroom. "In my opinion, it was grossly inappropriate to permit Mr. Simpson to, in effect, testify without taking the stand and without subjecting himself to cross-examination," the statement said.

Cochran told reporters Simpson was "speaking from his heart." He said Simpson didn't take the stand because prosecution cross-examination "would have gone on forever."

He said Simpson was not scared. "He's looking forward to being acquitted. He wants to go home to his children."

As for closing arguments, Cochran would only say, "If you think he (Simpson) was emotional, you wait until next week." He said that he and another attorney would probably give the arguments, and that they "had a lot to say."

Fred Goldman, father of victim Ron Goldman, blasted Simpson after court. "He hasn't seen his kids in the last year? I will never see my son again ... How dare he throw that up? He's where he is because he committed murder." (Fred Goldman's press conference.)

He said Simpson didn't "have the guts" to get up and testify, instead choosing to "shoot his mouth off" to the judge.

Goldman also attacked Simpson's defense team. "It's disgusting -- his 'dream team.' His 'scheme team' is more like it." He said it was "disgusting" that the judge tolerated them.

After court ended for the day, prosecutor Marcia Clark and Patti Goldman, stepmother of Ron Goldman, hugged and spoke in the hallway.

When court convened on Friday morning, Ito announced that prosecutors had withdrawn some of their proposed instructions for the jury.

Ito said that prosecutors would withdraw an instruction regarding lying in wait and an instruction on the theory of implied malice as it pertains to second-degree murder.

Ito explained to the jury that if they acquitted Simpson of first-degree murder, they could still convict him of second- degree murder.

The jury also was given second-degree murder instructions regarding what constitutes expressed malice and insufficient evidence of premeditation.



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