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JURORS IN SIMPSON TRIAL MAY FACE 6 MONTHS SEQUESTERED IN HOTEL

Six months in a hotel.

That's what jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial may face if the judge decides to sequester them from what is sure to be overwhelming publicity.Prosecutors said Wednesday that they would ask for a sequestered jury. News organizations fighting a proposed gag order agreed that a hotel-bound jury might be the best way to go.

Superior Court Judge Lance Ito was clearly uncomfortable with the idea.

"Will the L.A. Times foot the hotel bill for the sequestration?" he asked sharply, clearly angry that the Times had printed details of his proposed gag order, which was released this week to only four attorneys.

Ito also worried that "the entire jury panel" could be scared off if they have to stay away from home for the six months that Ito estimated the trial could last.

With so much attention focused on the Simpson case, it was only a matter of time before lawyers tackled the sensitive subject of sequestering the jury, which is expensive and can be rough on jurors.

But Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman said that the white-hot media glare may leave no other alternative. "It's the only way we know of (for) completely protecting the sanctity of the jury," he said.

Simpson, 47, has pleaded not guilty to the June 12 knife killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend Ronald Goldman, 25.

Jury selection had been set to begin on Sept. 19, but Ito pushed the date back to Sept. 26 to allow more time for pretrial hearings.