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TYSON TRIAL POSTPONED AS FIRE STRIKES HOTEL

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Mike Tyson's rape trial was postponed Wednesday morning after a fire struck the hotel where the jury was sequestered. No jurors were hurt, but three other people were killed and 12 injured, authorities said.

"All jurors were safely evacuated through the stairwell under the direction of two bailiffs and a Marion County sheriff's deputy," said Joseph Champion, a spokesman for Marion Superior Court Judge Patricia J. Gifford.Gifford called a morning meeting with attorneys to determine when to continue the trial, Champion said.

Prosecutor Jeffrey Modisett said the trial might resume in the afternoon.

Jurors fled the Indianapolis Athletic Club, leaving their belongings behind.

"Some jurors were able to put on clothing. Some were still in their night clothes and coats," Champion said.

The jurors were taken to court offices and their families notified, he said. Court officials were arranging for additional clothing, he said.

"The jurors appeared to be in good spirits, under the circumstances," Champion said. "They are presently sleeping in."

On Tuesday, the judge in the case threw out the least serious charge after the prosecution rested. The defense opened its case, suggesting the boxer's accuser concocted the story so she could sue him later.

Modisett said he wanted to poll each of the jurors today to make sure none had been tainted in leaving the hotel where they had been shielded from the press and the public.

Champion said sequestration was maintained during the evacuation.

"The transportation bus was called immediately while the jurors were on the sidewalk waiting for the bus," he said. "They were kept together and away from other persons."

Tyson, 25, still is charged with rape and criminal deviate conduct and could get up to 60 years in prison, instead of 63.

The former heavyweight champ is accused of raping an 18-year-old Miss Black America contestant in his hotel room July 19. He has said she consented to sex.

Defense attorney Kathleen Beggs opened her case by attacking his accuser's motives and questioning her story of refusing his advances. Six witnesses testified for the defense, and testimony was to continue this morning.

After calling the accuser's father to the stand, Beggs suggested the woman complained to authorities in the hopes of collecting on a lawsuit later.

"You understand you could sue Mike Tyson at any time based on the charges brought here?" Beggs asked the woman's father.

"I'm not sure what you're talking about," he said.

Beggs also called a hospital chaplain who testified there was "some sense of participation" when the woman gave her account of her night with Tyson.

"What I recall, there was some involvement, but it got to a point where she indicated `No more,' but it continued on," said the Rev. Catherine Newlin.

Earlier, the prosecution rested its case after calling 20 witnesses in five days. Among them was the woman's mother, who testified that the incident changed her daughter from a carefree teen-ager to a distraught child.

"She didn't look like the same daughter I sent down here. She was pale and upset. I just ran to her and hugged her," the mother said, and began to cry.

Also Tuesday, the court released a partial transcript of the woman's July 20 call to 911.