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This trial is not that trial

As jury selection starts in Simpson's robbery case, the judge says his murder acquittal must not taint the outcome.

September 09, 2008|Ashley Powers | Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — O.J. Simpson's acquittal on murder charges nearly 13 years ago loomed large over the first day of jury selection in his armed robbery trial here.

"If you are here and think you are going to punish Mr. Simpson for what happened in 1995, this is not the case for you," Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass told potential jurors Monday. She added in a no-nonsense tone that she didn't want panelists who intended "to become famous and write a book and be on TV."

Glass stopped short of allowing Simpson's attorneys to ask prospective jurors whether they considered the football great a murderer. But the judge dismissed two people who said they couldn't get past Simpson's trial in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Simpson, 61, a former USC and NFL star, is accused of robbing two sports collectible dealers at gunpoint at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino last September. He says he was trying to get back stolen mementos and denies guns were involved.

Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, 54, each face a dozen charges -- including kidnapping, which carries a potential life sentence. Four other co-defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for their testimony.

Glass and the attorneys are expected to take a week or more to whittle down the pool of 248 potential jurors to 12 and six alternates. On Monday, 16 were eliminated.

About half of the original 500-person pool already had been cut based on answers to a 26-page questionnaire. The questionnaire has not been made public, but prosecutor Chris Owens hinted at its contents Monday when he asked potential jurors: "In our country, we don't have separate rules for celebrities, do we?"

Simpson arrived at the Clark County Regional Justice Center about 7:30 a.m. He waved to the sparse crowd -- which included a man in a red-sequined jacket and American flag top hat -- who greeted him with shouts of "good luck."

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ashley.powers@latimes.com

The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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