The O.J. Simpson verdict stunned most Americans—some exploded with joy, others gasped in pained disbelief—but for 12 very tired, very frustrated jurors it meant, at last, release. “I feel free,” said Brenda Moran, 45, previously known to the world as Juror No. 7. In the end, say Moran and her colleagues who have spoken out, it was a flawed case against O.J., not preconceived notions of his innocence or his lawyers’ controversial appeals to racial solidarity, that persuaded the panelists—nine African-Americans, two whites and one Hispanic—to find Simpson not guilty.
In their eyes, say some members of the jury, the prosecutors’ evidence just didn’t add up. According to Moran, the prosecution’s suggestion that O.J. had moved inexorably from being an abusive spouse to a killer “was a waste of time.” As for the bloody glove, “in plain English, [it] didn’t fit.” Other jurors raised similar doubts. Soon after deliberations began on Oct. 2, the jurors cast secret ballots in a glass jar that showed a 10-2 split in favor of acquittal. But within four hours they had reached a unanimous decision: O.J. Simpson would walk out of the courtroom a free man—and so, at last, would they.
That was a notion worth celebrating. Later in the evening the jurors left their rooms in the Intercontinental Hotel, their elegant home during the trial, for a party in the hotel’s 17th-floor presidential suite. Accompanied by a professional pianist and the pop of champagne corks, Brenda Moran belted out “Stormy Monday,” and Beatrice Wilson, at age 72, spryly danced a soft-shoe routine. Said one hotel employee of the jurors: “They hugged and danced like they were old friends.” What follows are glimpses of the 12 people whose tensely awaited decision held the nation in thrall.
Moran arrived home after the trial to find her favorite meal—potatoes, greens and cornbread—cooking on her mother’s stove, but the Los Angeles computer technician simply had no appetite. “It was 24 [hours], seven [days-a week],” says Moran, who lost nearly 30 pounds during the nine stressful months of sequestration. “We were up early, and there were many nights I couldn’t sleep. It was everything that kept me up, [but] missing my family hurt most of all.” On several occasions, Moran pondered whether to tell Judge Lance Ito that the pressure caused by the trial was making her ill, but she decided to stay to the end. When Johnnie Cochran finally delivered his closing arguments, she began to cry, her tears brought on by sympathy for the Goldman, Brown and Simpson families and by memories of her own sister Yolanda, who had died in a car accident at the age of 20. Now that she’s back at home, Moran hopes to spend time with family, including the sister with whom she shares a house, Debbie Bennett, 40, and Debbie’s 3-year-old son Devon. “I actually wanted to go to Disneyland, take my niece and nephew and the rest of the family, but I’m just too tired,” says Moran. Instead, she’ll rest up and get her life in order. “I’ve been locked up so long, I want to enjoy life again.”
It took the jury just three minutes to choose Cooley, 51, a manager at the L.A. County tax collector’s office who often settled squabbles among her colleagues, to serve as their forewoman. Before she was tapped for the jury, the divorced Cooley took night classes in algebra and history and tutored an 8-year-old girl who lives next door to the South Central apartment Cooley shares with Yolanda, 28, her only child. On her juror’s questionnaire, Cooley told of once giving a doctor a urine sample. Because of a lab mix-up, Cooley was wrongly told she was pregnant—a memory that may have led her to view scientific evidence with caution.
Jackson-Rubin, 37, a post office mail sorter in the blue-collar L.A. suburb of Bellflower, kept her mind off her husband—a career serviceman stationed in Hawaii—whom she married in 1994, by learning to crochet from her best pal on the jury, Armanda Cooley. Other jurors appreciated Jackson-Rubin’s rich sense of humor. Her son Kevin is 22.
YOLANDA LE NEY CRAWFORD
A family friend helped make Crawford, 25, who fields telephone calls for paramedics at a hospital, a popular juror. Lyle Field, an amateur chef and a friend of Crawford’s mother, Elizabeth, cooked meals for the jurors and hosted a July 4 cruise on his boat. In June, Crawford told Judge Ito that two female jurors were passing notes to each other; the judge subsequently dismissed both from the case.
ANISE ‘ANN’ ASCHENBACH
Aschenbach’s daughter told ABC News that her mother, a retired gas company worker, said in a tearful phone conversation just after the verdict that O.J. was “probably” guilty but that Det. Mark Fuhrman’s role in the investigation made it impossible to convict him. Aschenbach, 61, asked Judge Ito to dismiss her in September because of lost income from her rental property, which has been vacant since July. Ito persuaded her to stay on the jury. The stern-faced Aschenbach, who saved her one and only courtroom smile for verdict day, is divorced.
Wilson, a retired office cleaner, and her husband, a former maintenance man, live in a $187-a-month public housing apartment in L.A.’s West Adams, not far from the courthouse.
A Pepsi delivery truck driver from East L.A., natty dresser Aldana, 33, was another juror who asked to be excused—at least for a day. A black belt in the martial art of tae kwon do, Aldana wanted to compete in a tournament in July. Ito denied his request. Aldana, who is single, has a son, Michael, who celebrated his 4th birthday during his father’s sequestration.
GINA MARIE ROSBOROUGH
Another member of Cooley’s crocheting circle, postal worker Rosborough, 29, was especially prolific. She managed to complete a shawl, an afghan and a heart-shaped rug before the verdict was delivered. Rosborough and husband Jerome, 29, celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Sept. 3. For the occasion, Judge Ito allowed the couple, plus an escort from the sheriff’s office, to see a movie and dine at a cafe at the Intercontinental Hotel.
Woods, 39, a devout Pentecostal, carries a Bible every day to her job as an environmental health specialist, says one of her colleagues. She also reads detective stories, is single and owns a townhouse in middle-class Inglewood.
The third post office employee on the panel, divorcée Bess, 51, lives in South Central L.A. As Juror No. 9, Bess reportedly rolled her eyes during Marcia Clark’s closing arguments.
One of only two jurors with college degrees (the other is Sheila Woods), Backman, 26, works as an insurance claims adjuster. Single, she lives in the San Fernando Valley.
“It was garbage in, garbage out,” says Lionel Cryer, 44, a Pacific Bell marketing representative, dismissing the prosecution’s scientific evidence against O.J. “We felt there were opportunities for either contamination of evidence [or] samples being mixed or stored together.” According to him, the most credible witness was defense forensic scientist Henry Lee. Cryer told Ito he worried about being dismissed too late to watch Notre Dame football. As he filed out of the courtroom, Cryer raised his fist in the air—a sign, he said, of support for O.J.
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