Judge Lance Ito Wednesday excused a fourth juror from the O.J. Simpson case, a 46-year-old black courier who had been widely perceived as sympathetic to Simpson and his lawyers.
But in an interview later with a Los Angeles TV station, the juror, who identified himself as Michael Knox of Long Beach, Calif., said the prosecution had presented a “pretty strong case so far.”
“They’ve got the evidence,” Knox said, predicting that jurors will reach a verdict in the case “without a doubt.”
Ito gave no reason for Knox’s dismissal, except to say it was for “good cause,” and Knox himself refused to discuss the reasons for his ouster.
He was replaced by lottery of the remaining alternates with a 38-yearold white woman who works as a telephone company technician.
The switch alters the racial and sexual composition of the jury. There are now eight women and four men; eight are African American, two are white, one is Hispanic and one is white-Native American.
Later in the day, prosecutors urged the judge to impose harsh sanctions against the defense for failing to disclose until Monday the existence of a tape-recorded interview with housekeeper Rosa Lopez, a key defense witness who supports Simpson’s murder-night alibi.
Prosecutor Marcia Clark accused defense lawyers of withholding the tape, and the report of a second interview with Lopez, as part of a “sinister scheme to prevent the jury … from hearing the truth.”
“No lawyer - let alone one from the Dream Team - is going to misplace … a tape recording from a key witness,” Clark said.
Defense lawyer Gerald Uelman insisted that the items simply “fell through the cracks” and offered Ito a timely apology. Clark responded: “Frankly, I don’t care if he wears a dress because what he wears is of no moment to the people’s right to a fair trial.”
Ito put off a ruling on the matter. Lopez’s testimony is scheduled to resume Thursday out of the jury’s presence.