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ITO DELAYS TRIAL AGAIN TO FOCUS ON TAPES

SHARE ITO DELAYS TRIAL AGAIN TO FOCUS ON TAPES

The O.J. Simpson judge canceled Thursday's testimony - the second straight day off in the trial - to give himself more time to ponder the Mark Fuhrman tapes.

The delay means the defense probably won't rest until next week.On Wednesday, a problem with the beleaguered jury brought attorneys to the courthouse. A juror had asked to be excused, but was persuaded to stay by promises that the trial would conclude in mid-September, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. and prosecutor Marcia Clark both said the latest problem was resolved.

"We're all happy, and we're on track," Cochran said.

The juror, a middle-aged black man, had earlier been the focus of an inquiry into alleged spousal abuse, but he was kept on the panel, the Times said.

Superior Court Judge Lance Ito has made it clear that the jury is close to cracking up if the trial doesn't end soon.

The panel, sequestered since Jan. 11, has lost 10 members, and only two alternates remain.

Ito's private talk with attorneys distracted him from his most important decision of the trial: determining whether the majority-black jury should hear tape recordings of Fuhrman spewing racial epithets and bragging about beating and framing suspects.

The defense says the tapes show Fuhrman could have planted a bloody glove on Simpson's property to frame the black former football star in the June 12, 1994, knife murders of Simpson's white ex-wife and her friend.