At UA, reaction to verdict mixed

By Craig Degel

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Reactions on the UA campus ranged from relief to disbelief in the wake of not-guilty verdicts in O. J. Simpson's murder trial.

A jury of nine blacks, two whites and a Hispanic cleared Simpson yesterday of charges of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman on June 12, 1994, in Los Angeles. It took eight months for the attorneys to present their respective cases, and the jury less than four hours to render a verdict.

"I thought they would probably go not guilty," history senior Willow Stevenson said. "I don't know (whether he was guilty or innocent), I was just going to go with what the jury said."

As Stevenson spoke, another stunned-looking student passed by and said, "I can't believe they let him off."

"You have to feel bad for the Goldman family; now they have no one to blame," Stevenson said.

Other students shared Stevenson's thought on the Goldman family. One student, after hearing the verdict said he was happy that the trial was over but that the Goldman family will have no closure in their lives.

"Whether or not he did it no one will ever know except him," psychology junior Tyrone Harrington said.

About 100 students crowded around the Student Union TV lounge to watch coverage of the verdicts.

Media arts senior Dan Zislis said he thought the outcome of the trial was obvious.

"There was doubt all throughout, from the credibility of evidence to the issue of Mark Fuhrman," he said. "I don't necessarily think he was (innocent), there was a lot of evidence pointing to it, or that big car chase in Los Angeles."

Ironically, it was footage of Simpson riding in a white van down the Santa Monica freeway towards his Brentwood home after the verdict that viewers last saw on the TV.

"I think he's innocent," sociology junior Sy'Gerry Cook said. "He may have been involved in some way, but I don't think he did the killings."

One student walked up to the crowd and inquired about the verdicts. When told of the not guilty verdict, the student walked away in disgust.

"This was a classic betrayal of the justice system," computer science sophomore Melissa Legah said. "I thought he was guilty. He got away with it."

Different reasons were given by all students as to why they thought Simpson was guilty or innocent. Most students who thought Simpson was guilty felt that the evidence against Simpson was overwhelming. But many who believed the defense argument that Simpson, "Did not, could not, and would not" murder Goldman and his ex-wife thought that there was too much doubt about the evidence and the prosecution's presentation.

Student Union employee Christy Ageh found fault with the Los Angeles Police Department.

"I think it was due to the police handling of the situation," she said. "Everything did not fall into place."

"Thank God it's over, that's the main thing," said Eric Watkins, industrial psychology senior.

The trial that has captivated the nation for more than a year is over. It took the court clerk a matter of minutes to read and poll the jury. Simpson mouthed "thank you" to the jury as the verdicts were read then turned to embrace his lead attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr., and his friend and attorney Robert Kardashian.

Despite Judge Lance Ito's request otherwise, the families not surprisingly reacted with shows of emotion. Goldman's father sat stunned, comforting his daughter who wept openly. Simpson's daughter Arnelle, accompanied by Simpson's sister Shirley Baker and his mother Eunice, smiled, while his son Jason sat forward with his face in his hands crying.

Had he been convicted, Simpson faced life in prison without possibility of parole.

Stevenson expressed that even if he were guilty, Simpson poses no threat to go out and kill again.

"It's not like he's a threat to society," Stevenson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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