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The Nation

Simpson Road Rage Trial Opens

Law: Ex-football star faces charges after a Florida confrontation. His lawyer says he was 'unfairly targeted.'

October 19, 2001|JOHN-THOR DAHLBURG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Simpson then returned to his Navigator and "sped off," according to the police report.

"Mr. Simpson is enraged because he has been called on his breaking the law, the traffic law," Miami-Dade prosecutor Abbe Rifkin told the court. She said his "rage" vanished when he heard his daughter's pleas.

Galanter, the defense lawyer, claimed that Pattinson knew immediately who was driving the Navigator, that he had opposed Simpson moving into a $625,000 home in the neighborhood and that he was eager for a confrontation.

Pattinson, Galanter alleged, trailed Simpson for several blocks after the near-collision, then got out of his car to scream at Simpson.

"He continuously honked his horn, not once or twice, and continually flashed his high beams and followed Mr. Simpson's vehicle with his kids," Galanter said. "The evidence will show this person gets out of his vehicle and starts screaming, cursing, letting Mr. Simpson know how upset he is."

"Pattinson's actions in this case were that of a madman," Galanter charged. "Mr. Simpson didn't do anything wrong."

According to the police report, Pattinson went home and phoned police. The first police officer to respond, Ruth Dobson, testified Thursday that the encounter had left Pattinson very scared.

"He said he became very frightened and that he did not know what was going to happen," the Miami-Dade officer said. "He was visibly shaken. He was frightened and he was a little bit pale and nervous. He had a cut on his left temple."

Simpson's trial is expected to last several days. In his remarks to the six jurors and two alternates, Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy told them to ignore their feelings about the verdict in Simpson's murder case and to focus on the evidence presented them.

As the trial adjourned until Monday, the defense requested a mistrial because jurors admitted talking among themselves about testimony, in violation of Murphy's instructions.

After his arrest in February on the road rage charges, Simpson said he was looking forward with relish to the criminal prosecution. He is free on a $9,000 bond.

"I don't want any deals, I don't want anything. I want to contest this," Simpson told reporters after he was fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken. "So actually, for the first time, I am looking forward to a litigation."

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