Jurors in Simpson road-rage case violate judge's instructions; mistrial requested

Friday, October 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ O.J. Simpson's defense team called for a mistrial in a road-rage case against him, saying the jury had violated the judge's instructions. However, one attorney said the football great ``wants to finish with this jury.''

After Thursday's opening statements and testimony, Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy told jurors he noticed them talking in the jury box and asked them, with only one juror in the courtroom at a time, what they were talking about.

Jurors admitted talking among themselves about the testimony.

``We had questions about some of the things that were said that may have been understood differently,'' said juror Jose Prado. Juror Ernesto Diaz said, ``We didn't come to a verdict or anything like that.''

Defense attorney Yale Galanter said the issue would be decided when the trial resumes Monday. The bulk of the prosecution's case was completed Thursday.

``O.J. has a lot of faith in this jury, and he wants to finish with this jury,'' Galanter said.

Simpson allegedly yanked the eyeglasses off a motorist and scratched him on Dec. 4. He could face 16 years in state prison if convicted of felony auto burglary and misdemeanor battery.

In opening statements, the two sides offered starkly different versions of the nighttime encounter after Simpson rolled through a stop sign in a suburban Miami neighborhood.

Jeffrey Pattinson, the driver Simpson allegedly hit, said he stayed inside his vehicle, but Galanter said both men got out of their SUVs.

Pattinson acknowledged honking his horn and flashing his lights while driving behind Simpson. He testified that after they stopped, Simpson reached in his vehicle and grabbed his glasses off his face. He said Simpson backed off after he heard a girl in Simpson's vehicle shout, ``No Daddy, no Daddy, no!''

Simpson's teen-age son and daughter were in his SUV at the time. They have been questioned on videotape but are not expected to be called as witnesses.

Simpson was cleared of criminal charges in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. A civil jury later ordered him to pay $33.5 million for their deaths.