Jurors in the O.J. Simpson murder trial were sent home Monday to get ready to spend the next several months sequestered in a secret location.
With their suitcases in hand, the 12 jurors and 12 alternates will report Wednesday to Los Angeles County sheriffs, who will drive them to the place they will call home during the widely watched trial.
“I realize this is going to be very difficult for all of you,” Judge Lance Ito told the jurors Monday. “We want you to know this is something we have all tried to avoid … We will try to make this something less than an experience of incarceration, but it won’t be a picnic.”
In coming months, jurors will see only their families and friends during supervised visits each Wednesday and weekends. Though allowed to make telephone calls and receive mail, jurors will be barred from exposure to television, radio or newspapers.
Judge Ito agreed to sequestration last week after defense lawyers dropped their objections. The measure is designed to protect jurors from potentially prejudicial news reports, including coverage of arguments scheduled for Wednesday on whether past evidence of domestic violence in the Simpson marriage should be admitted at trial.
Before opening statements begin, possibly as soon as Jan. 19, lawyers from both sides will interview the jurors to determine if they know of recent media reports, such as a “National Enquirer” cover showing a computer-generated image of Simpson’s slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, with a severely bruised face.