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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Group Burns Simpson Memorabilia Outside Court

February 18, 1999|SEEMA MEHTA

O.J. Simpson is still drawing a crowd at the downtown Criminal Courts building.

Before a vocal bunch of lunchtime observers, members of a conservative Christian group on Wednesday destroyed Simpson's Hall of Fame plaque and other memorabilia. The items were purchased Tuesday night for about $16,000 at a court-ordered auction to begin satisfying a $33.5-million wrongful death judgment against him.

"We are destroying O.J. Simpson's property in front of the L.A. courthouse because the criminal justice system is destroying justice before our very eyes," said Denver radio host Bob Enyart.

Enyart called for abolishing the jury system and replacing "reasonable doubt" with a reasonable evidence standard. Murder convictions should also result in automatic death sentences, he said.

The plaque, which Enyart bought for $10,000 at Tuesday's auction, was dismantled, the parchment set on fire and the wood splintered on the sidewalk.

Witnesses either cheered or watched in horror.

"You can't take it away from him! He still earned it!" one woman yelled as she walked by a throng of media cameras.

Darryl Maxwell, who is currently on jury duty, added, "They're wasting history."

Or trying to change it. Simpson's name should be removed from the Professional Football Hall of Fame, Enyart said.

Dozens of other jurors and court workers watched from inside the building, rattling the windows and making thumbs-down signals as items were torched or smashed with a sledgehammer.

"I wonder about the mentality involved in this," Simpson said in a telephone interview with Associated Press. "The guy's burning up $16,000 he could use to fight AIDS or help kids with cancer or even donate to battered [women's] homes."

After half an hour, all that remained of two signed USC and Buffalo Bills jerseys was thick black smoke and smoldering ashes, which flew into the onlookers standing behind yellow police tape.

Enyart and his group were escorted out of the area by police as observers surged forward and screamed. No one was arrested.

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