Jury selection in O.J. Simpson's armed robbery trial could wrap up today if the process speeds along like it did Wednesday.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys passed 15 more potential jurors through voir dire questioning, putting the three-day total at 27. Once that number reaches 40, jury selection will move into its final phase and narrow the group to 12 jurors and six alternates.
"The end is near, folks," District Judge Jackie Glass said as everyone headed home after another marathon session.
Lawyers said they would be willing to work late tonight to complete jury selection and take Friday off before starting the trial on Monday.
Glass had said her goal was to finish jury selection in a week despite some predictions that it would take several weeks. She has kept jury selection moving by prodding lawyers to avoid redundant or irrelevant questioning.
Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart are both charged with armed robbery, kidnapping and other counts in connection with a sports memorabilia heist last year at the Palace Station.
Many of the questions this week have focused on potential jurors' opinions about Simpson's 1995 acquittal on charges of killing his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles County and whether the jurors could separate that case from his current case.
"Nobody should be judged on the past," Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter said. "Nobody should be judged on the future. They should be judged on what happens in Judge Glass' courtroom."
Many potential jurors said they believed Simpson committed the murders and should have been found guilty.
"To me, if someone got away with something like that -- in my opinion he was guilty -- you would keep yourself clean and not come down here and commit another crime," said one juror, a carpet cleaner who spent three decades in construction.
That comment sparked a bench conference between the judge, lawyers and juror.
He was eventually dismissed.
But simply believing Simpson committed murder didn't guarantee an early exit.
Many potential jurors said the Los Angeles jury should have convicted Simpson, but if they said they could keep their feelings about that case separate from the Las Vegas case, they stayed.
Late in the day, Galanter asked Glass to dismiss one potential juror who had written on his jury questionnaire about being angry at the Los Angeles verdict.
During pointed questioning by Galanter, the aircraft mechanic said he could leave his emotions at the courtroom door and give Simpson a fair trial.
"It might not be what you want to hear," he told Galanter. "All I can tell you, I am capable of separating the cases. What was then was then. What is now is now."
Glass kept the juror.
Other potential jurors said they had no opinion about the Los Angeles verdict or they believed Simpson got a fair trial.
"Everybody followed the rules, and our justice system worked. That's the way I see it," said one juror who works for a telecommunications company.
Contact reporter Brian Haynes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0281.