Confronted with confusing details from a 10-year-old murder, the O.J. Simpson jurors might be forgiven if they momentarily thought Simpson's ex-wife and her friend died of oleander poisoning.
For much of Monday, prosecutor Marcia Clark tried to show that defense expert Fredric Rieders mistakenly suggested in another case that the murder weapon was oleander, a poisonous shrub. Subsequent tests showed otherwise and charges were dropped.Jurors, however, didn't appear impressed with Clark's lengthy inquiry into Rieders' background, taking no notes and looking generally bored. One alternate slumped in her chair and buried her chin in her chest. Another panelist sat with her head in her hand, her eyes half shut.
Last month, Rieders backed up the defense's police conspiracy theory by testifying that a preservative used in the police crime lab was present in blood found on a gate near the crime scene and a sock found in Simpson's bedroom.
Law professor Myrna Raeder of Southwestern University said Clark "lost momentum" by ignoring the jury's body language and revealing she had very little ammunition against the toxicologist.
"The prosecution has been very bound up in minutiae," Raeder said. "They have been very much more interested in just getting information to the jury rather then taking a thematic approach to help the jury understand."
Even Judge Lance Ito was impatient.
"Let's wind this up," he snapped at one point. "Let's try the Simpson case sometime today."
Meanwhile, the defense argued futilely for the chance to tell jurors about news leaks before the trial.