If there was relief inside the courtroom Tuesday that things were winding down, there was almost a sense of sadness outside.
Tourists and locals alike rushed to the Criminal Courts Building in hopes of catching one last touch of Simpson trial fever. Some came to see. And others came to be seen.
Maria Vazquez, a 48-year-old Tucson caretaker, rode all night on a bus to get there. Anthony Yates, 44, a minister from Omaha, grabbed a 4:30 a.m. flight to make it on time.
“It’s almost over, and I just wanted to see it for myself,” said Karma Crabtree, 25, of Bellingham, Wash. “All of this is so mind-boggling.”
Houston salesman Daniel Kirk stopped at a nearby drugstore to buy a disposable camera to record the parade of shirt vendors, evangelists and conspiracy theorists who for eight months have helped create the trial’s circus-like backdrop.
“There was a TV anchorwoman in line ahead of me buying Clairol blond hair rinse,” Kirk, 39, said as he snapped a picture of a man walking into the courthouse wearing an expensive suit--and a pair of dirty sneakers. “Y’all do set trends out here.”
The trial was a premier Los Angeles destination for visitors Larry Krajc and Susan Avery, both state office workers from Enfield, Conn.
“It’s almost another tourist attraction,” said Krajc, 32. “People back home all asked, ‘Are you going to the courthouse?’ They were not talking about Disneyland, but the O.J. courthouse.”
The trial’s end was clearly on the minds of trial regulars.
Simpson supporter Morris Griffin, 30, of Los Angeles mounted a stepladder and in a booming voice attacked the blood evidence being discussed by prosecutors nine floors above him. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see what they did,” he yelled, ceremoniously pouring water over a pair of men’s black socks for emphasis.
Ignoring the commotion was bumper sticker vendor Chris Badami of Burbank. A 25-year-old aspiring actor, he was anxiously trying to sell enough $2 “Ito Rules” stickers to recoup his $400 printing investment.
“But I’ve only sold 50 so far,” Badami said.
A few feet away, Shirley Ann Stanley of Downey took snapshots of trial reporters and camera operators with whom she has mingled for months. “I’m going to miss all these people,” she said.
Glendale nurse Andrea Bauman agreed. Over the past months she has helped organize a “breakfast club” of court watchers who line up at 7 a.m. for one of the handful of public seats in the courtroom.
“It’s been wonderful . . . an incredible experience,” said Bauman, 57.
“Today’s like a conclusion, like graduation,” Bauman said, fingering the courtroom pass she won Tuesday. “It seemed like this day would never come.”