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In under Four Hours, Jurors Reach Verdict in Simpson Trial

By Shirley E. Perlman

With a stunning swiftness that shocked legal pundits, the jury in the O.J. Simpson trial reached a verdict Monday after deliberating only three hours and 40 minutes.

Because of the rapid decision, Judge Lance Ito said the verdict would remain sealed until 10 a.m. (PDT) Tuesday so that principal lawyers on both sides could be in the courtroom when it is read.

The speed of the verdict, and the fact that it came less than an hour after the jury heard a section of particularly incriminating testimony from limousine driver Allan Park, prompted speculation around the courthouse that Simpson had been convicted of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

"Looks like guilty to me," said John Burris, a noted Oakland, Calif., civil rights attorney. "This jury went straight to the heart of this case. They wanted to know where was O.J. and the limo driver said where he was not. And he was not home when he (limo driver) arrived that night."

But others interpreted the quick verdict as a possible acquittal.

Simpson, wearing a gray pin-striped suit, appeared shaken as the jurors filed into the courtroom. He scanned their faces but they averted their eyes from his.

Ito asked the jury forewoman if the panel had reached a verdict. The 51-year-old divorced woman, who works as a vendor, replied that it had. But when Ito asked for the sealed envelope, she smiled sheepishly and said she didn't have it.

"Did you leave it in the jury room?" Ito asked.

"Yes," she said.

Ito directed a deputy to escort her to the jury room to retrieve the envelope with the verdict. She gave it to a deputy and he handed it to the judge.

Simpson continued to look at the jury box, but with the exception of Juror No. 7, a sad-faced 45-year-old computer technician who looked in his direction, jurors either fixed their gaze downward or peered out into the courtroom.

As the jurors rose to leave, Simpson raised his chin slightly, blinked his eyes several times, and watched them file out of the courtroom. He took the pen he was holding, dropped it on the defense table and walked into the holding area without speaking to defense lawyer Carl Douglas, the only member of the defense team who was there.