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O.J. TO SPEND HOLIDAYS IN A PRISON OF UNCERTAINTY

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O.J. Simpson will be spending the holidays in jail, unsure when his murder trial will start in earnest, what evidence will be introduced and how long his cash will hold out.

His last day in court before a 2 1/2-week break was hardly a high point, with his lawyer apologizing for calling the judge "disingenuous."Moreover, Judge Lance Ito was unsympathetic Friday toward two important defense requests: To keep secret the contents of Simpson's reported jailhouse outburst and to scale back a hearing on the admissibility of DNA evidence.

Written rulings on those matters are expected Monday, and if things don't go Simpson's way, they could mean more evidence against him and the possibility that opening statements won't start until March.

As the days pass, there are signs that Simpson, who hired the best lawyers, investigators and experts that money could buy, is running short on funds.

He's asking the judge to conduct the critical hearing on DNA evidence in a fractured fashion, woven throughout the trial, in part to save money.

"(The) hearing, we'll make no bones about it, costs a fortune," said Gerald Uelmen, one member of what has been called Simpson's legal dream team.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine how much putting on a six- to eight-week hearing will be. The defendant has concluded it would be a needless waste of scarce resources."

This marks a turnaround for a man who's been criticized as able to buy more justice than most defendants. District Attorney Gil Garcetti has even complained that Simpson's defense has strained the resources of his office.

"I guess $10 million doesn't go as far as it used to," said Loyola University law professor Stanley Goldman.

The defense will spend the holiday break poring over more than 1,000 pages of newly delivered prosecution documents, including interviews with friends of Nicole Brown Simpson.

Since his June 17 arrest in the slaying of Ms. Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, Simpson has been pressing for a fast trial. And for a while he had his wish. But the trial has been bogged down by a lengthy jury selection process and now by disputes over evidence admissibility.

If Ito decides to go ahead with the four- to eight-week DNA hearing outside the jury's presence, opening statements might not start until March. If he forgoes the hearing at the defense requested, opening statements could begin soon after court reconvenes Jan. 4.

The genetic evidence is considered the crux of the case. Prosecutors hope to tie Simpson to the murders by showing genetic matches between his blood and drops found near the bodies.

Also in doubt is whether the jury will be allowed to hear allegations that Simpson stalked and beat Ms. Simpson. The couple divorced in 1992, and an attempt at reconciliation failed just weeks before the killings.