In the latest word from what has surely become the most loquacious jury in history, a former juror in the O.J. Simpson case has predicted in a book that despite their instinctive sympathies for a black hero, the largely black jury will convict Simpson of murder.
The juror, Michael Knox, also said that while racial divisions existed on the panel, they were grossly exaggerated by Jeanette Harris, another former juror, who, he said, had her own selfaggrandizing, divisive agenda. Blacks were nearly as divided among themselves as they were with whites, Knox said in the book - torn by everything from class differences to jealousy, sexual orientation, and even bad breath.
Knox, who like Harris is black, took particular issue with her bleak picture of racial tensions within the Simpson jury and between black jurors and white sheriff’s deputies. He called Harris “manipulative, even malevolent,” and said she fabricated racial slights where none existed.
“I never saw any deliberate racial attacks by white jurors or deputies against any black jurors,” Knox wrote. “In my experience, the white people on that jury bent over backwards to be friendly. I know that some African-Americans will be angered by that, but that’s how I saw it.”
Knox, a 47-year-old Federal Express driver who was dismissed from the panel in March, wrote that as of now, he is “leaning” toward a guilty verdict. “I hope O.J. can prove his innocence,” he said. “But if he’s guilty, I’m not going to consider it some kind of defeat for the black race.”
In a 265-page paperback book, “The Private Diary of an O.J. Juror (Dove Books), written with Mike Walker of The National Enquirer, Knox also described the oppressive, bizarre, and infantilizing life of sequestration, in which no doors can be locked, jurors cannot even enjoy a beer, and, even during conjugal visits, jurors worried about having their conversations monitored.
Judge Lance A. Ito removed Knox from the jury for failing to disclose on his jury questionnaire that he had once been charged with kidnapping. That fact surfaced, Knox recalled bitterly, because prosecutors, convinced he was in awe of Simpson - Knox wore a San Francisco ‘49ers jacket and cap while touring the crime scene and stared intently at the celebrity photographs in Simpson’s home - had started an investigation designed to remove him from the panel.
Knox dismissed the kidnapping charge as a momentary spat with a girlfriend. And he suggested that prosecutors pegged him incorrectly. He wrote that he was wary of Simpson, even though “his charisma hits like a hammer.”
“The charm was undeniable, yet came up short of feeling completely natural,” he said in the book. “O.J.’s like a salesman selling a product he believes in totally - himself.”