A white telephone company worker who participated in the infamous juror revolt was ousted from the O.J. Simpson trial, forcing the judge to dip deeper into the dwindling alternate pool.
When jurors arrived this morning, the woman known as juror No. 353 was absent.Superior Court Judge Lance Ito was to replace the woman before resuming testimony Friday. When her ouster was announced late Thursday, no reason was given.
Juror 353 is a white woman mentioned repeatedly in the account of unhappy sequestration provided by a black woman dismissed from the panel in April.
Ex-juror Jeanette Harris claimed in myriad media interviews and a discussion with the judge that jurors were divided by race and stressed from months of sequestration.
Harris contended No. 353 treated blacks badly and received preferential treatment from deputies guarding the panel. In fact, she figured in at least four of Harris' complaints to the judge, including one in which she accused the woman of a kicking her and a black man in the jury box.
Other reports also said No. 353's husband had pneumonia and she told the judge she didn't know if she could continue to serve.
After complaints from Harris and another juror who was eventually dismissed, Ito replaced three deputies who guarded the panel. That move led to a revolt by 13 jurors who dressed in black and refused to hear testimony the day after the deputies were removed. Juror No. 353 was one of the 13.
Before the jury was brought into the courtroom Friday, Ito heard arguments over the admissibility of Simpson's statement to police on June 13, 1994, the day after Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were murdered. The statement was disallowed.
The alternate pool has dwindled from 12 to just four, with months to go in the sensational double-murder trial.
"This bodes very badly for the future of this trial," said law professor Robert Pugsley of Southwestern University. "I don't see realistically how they're going to make it."
If the number of jurors drops below 12, it would take an agreement by both sides to continue. Otherwise, a mistrial would be declared.