The City of Worried Angels

The Rodney King case goes to the jury, and Angelenos bite their nails

JUDGE JOHN DAVIES, AT LEAST, SEEMED RELIEVED. "That's it, ladies and gentlemen," he exulted. "You've heard all the evidence." With that, his case's terrible weight shifted from him to two juries: one of 12 citizens, the other of 9 million.

The final week of Rodney King II, the civil rights trial, favored the prosecution. The government showed videotape of previous testimony by Officer Theodore Briseno suggesting that King was indeed beaten on the head, unnecessarily and intentionally; this undermined the "unified defense" Briseno had since joined. The prosecution's summation, too, was more compelling than the defendants'. Observers predicted conviction for Officer...

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