THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER TRIAL : Graphic Photos Stun the Jurors : Evidence: Most are horrified and look away from autopsy pictures of Nicole Simpson, who was nearly decapitated.
The 50-year-old vendor from South-Central Los Angeles managed to stifle a gasp, but the fingers of her left hand flew instinctively to her lips.
The Norwalk retiree sitting two seats away took deep breaths and averted her glance.
Next to her, the East Los Angeles soda truck driver, 32, looked as if he would be sick.
For months, Judge Lance A. Ito had warned the jurors in the O.J. Simpson double murder trial that their duties would entail viewing crime scene photographs of the dead bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.
But it was only last week that Ito ruled that the jury would, at the prosecution’s request, see the most gruesome images of all--graphic autopsy photographs of the two victims.
On Tuesday, the jurors saw the first of these on a large chart of close-up shots of a slashed and stabbed Nicole Simpson. One showed the gaping wound to the neck that almost decapitated her.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Brian Kelberg and an assistant placed the chart on an easel--careful to keep it out of spectators’ view.
For 20 minutes, the exhibit was within inches of the jury box as the county coroner gave detailed clinical testimony about the extent of injuries inflicted upon the 35-year-old mother of two.
Lawyers in the case crowded into a nearby corner so they could view what was being seen by the jurors, who are charged with deciding whether the former football star, Nicole Simpson’s ex-husband, is guilty of the June 12, 1994, slayings in Brentwood.
A couple of the jurors leaned forward to get a better look at the pictures, but most registered some degree of horror, squirmed uncomfortably then looked away as often as possible.
One alternate, a 24-year-old Los Angeles Fire Department receptionist from Altadena, looked down most of the time.
Ito watched the jurors carefully, finally urging Kelberg to finish his questioning 15 minutes before the scheduled end of the court day.
The judge would not allow reporters or spectators to view the pictures Tuesday, but some in the audience were sitting at vantage points that allowed them to see the chart.
Mark Austin Thomas, news director at KFI radio, said the pictures, including one that showed Nicole Simpson’s face, were powerful. He suggested that the prosecution may have gotten what it wanted by displaying the photos.
“It brought the whole trial into focus, that it’s about murders,” Thomas said. “It brought one of the victims into focus.”
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