Jury candidates in O.J. Simpson's road rage trial questioned about 1995 murder trial

Wednesday, October 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ O.J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial was on the minds of most prospective jurors on the first day of jury selection for the former football great's road rage trial.

Forty-nine people were questioned Tuesday at the start of jury selection for the trial, which stemmed from an angry encounter between Simpson and a fellow driver on Dec. 4. Several of the questions related to Simpson's murder trial in the 1994 deaths of his ex-wife and her friend.

Only one prospective juror didn't know about the murder trial.

Simpson is being tried on auto burglary and battery charges for allegedly reaching into Jeffrey Pattinson's window and scratching him while tearing off his eyeglasses. He faces two to 16 years in state prison if convicted.

Assistant State Attorney Paul Mendelson said in court Tuesday that his office wants prison time if Simpson is convicted. Prosecutors had previously said counseling was the likely punishment.

The push for prison time was due to ``the overall development of information that has occurred as part of pretrial preparation,'' said prosecution spokesman Ed Griffith. He would not give details.

Defense attorney Yale Galanter said the change in position was no surprise because he had asked for a plea bargain but never got an offer.

Galanter has painted Pattinson as a hothead who tailgated Simpson, honked his horn and flashed his lights.

Simpson didn't speak to reporters about his case Tuesday but he signed an autograph and shook hands with well-wishers. In the courtroom, he took notes on a yellow legal pad.

The retired NFL running back and actor was cleared by a criminal jury but found liable by a civil jury in the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Jury selection was expected to take at least a week, and testimony should last about two days.