October 3, 1995
Web posted at: 1:15 a.m. EDT
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It is a startling cliffhanger, as gripping a courtroom drama as ever graced a television screen -- the O.J. Simpson jury, after deliberating less than a day, told Judge Lance Ito Monday afternoon that they had reached a verdict. And Ito immediately sealed the verdict, turned it over to the court's bailiff and sent everyone home for the night.
Tune in Tuesday for the stunning conclusion of the eight- month long Simpson trial. At 1 p.m (EDT), the rest of the world will learn what only 12 people were sure of Monday night. Guilty, or not guilty?
The unexpected news brought a flurry of would-be seers and psychics, looking for clues to the jurors' decision and dissecting the demeanor of the ten women and two men who filed into the courtroom just before 6 p.m. EDT to announce they had reached consensus.
"How could they convict in four hours. I've never seen such a fast guilty verdict like this unless it was open and shut like the Susan Smith case and the jury had no choice."
--F. Lee Bailey, Simpson defense attorney
Some swore that a quick verdict was a guilty verdict, others were equally certain it meant good new for the defense. An observation that the jurors did not look at the defendant in the courtroom meant they had found him guilty. Or not.
"It doesn't mean anything if they don't look at him," scoffed defense attorney F. Lee Bailey. "If they don't look at him and then look at the floor, maybe."
Another clue: the transcript the jurors requested to hear again. Limousine driver Allan Park's testimony indicated that O.J. Simpson was not at home during the time the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman took place. In the final analysis, the jury's decision may not have hinged on DNA evidence, or Mark Fuhrman's bigoted attitudes, but on a simple matter of timing.
Park, speaking on KCBS in Los Angeles Monday night, said he was "in the right place at the wrong time." Park didn't speculate about the verdict, but he did say that if Simpson is found guilty, he hopes he is not remembered as the man who "put him away."
Whatever their verdict, these jurors did act quickly. They took but four minutes to choose a forewoman -- Juror Number One, a divorced African-American woman who works as a vendor and lives in South Central Los Angeles. They met for less than two hours Monday morning before asking to be read back a portion of the trial's transcript. They broke for lunch, taking an hour out before hearing the read-back.
The read-back lasted for another hour, then the jurors asked for the forms on which they would write their verdicts. And then they buzzed the bailiff three times -- the signal they had reached a verdict.
Fred Goldman, father of Ronald Goldman, was nearly gleeful at the news.
"They're going to find him guilty, they've found him guilty," said Goldman, who has held several press conference during the trial to emotionally condemn Simpson and his defense team. "This is great. I've had the feeling all weekend long. They found him guilty."
Former juror Michael Knox, dismissed March 1 for failing to disclose a past incident of domestic violence, agreed with Goldman's assessment.
"The jury must have made up their minds quickly that there was no question he was guilty," he said.
Others were not so quick to take sides with the prosecution. "How could they convict in four hours," Bailey asked. "I've never seen such a fast guilty verdict like this unless it was open and shut like the Susan Smith case and the jury had no choice."
And another defense attorney, who spoke anonymously: "A case this complex, to come to such a quick verdict has to mean they threw the prosecution case out. It sounds like there were no deliberations."
Prosecutors -- and Simpson's non-criminal attorneys -- refused to speculate. Lead prosecutor Marcia Clark said that "in my entire life I've never predicted juries;" Simpson friend and attorney Robert Kardashian and business attorney Leroy Taft visited the defendant in jail late Monday, each telling reporters on the way in they had no idea what to make of the quick decision.
Even lead Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran stayed away from any speculation. (136K AIFF sound or 136K WAV sound)
But for one more night, attorneys, friends, family and the millions of people who have followed the Simpson trial faithfully since its beginning last January will wait. On Tuesday, the verdict will be made public.
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