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As the words "not guilty" sounded, as an uncertain smile flickered across Simpson's face, the watchers were frozen--until Marcia Clark's assistant Patti Jo Fairbanks leapt from her chair. "Oh, God, I gotta get the families up here," she cried. Her sudden movement set the others talking or crying like a lot of windup toys. Bruce Jenner stared at the screen, muttering, "You got away with murder, you got away with murder" over and over. Deputy district attorney Yochelson blocked the television, saying to the group, "I want to tell all of you that we did the best we could. I am sorry. But I need to ask you all to please try and stay calm." Two young African-American D.A. assistants shook their heads. One of them wept quietly. "He never did anything for our community," she said. The D.A.'s office worried about the emotional Darden, and several people from work spent the night with him.
FREE AT LAST
BRENDA MORAN HAD SERVED ON FIVE JURIES before being picked as Juror No. 7 in the Simpson case. On two of them, her panels had found men--one of them black--guilty of murder. Moran does not take kindly to the criticism that her sixth jury was predisposed to acquitting a black man. "If we had come back with a guilty verdict in two hours, would you be seeing all of this clamor?" she asks. "I doubt it."
But it had been an ordeal. "A lot of us put on weight," says Moran, 45, a computer technician. "I grew depressed and cried a lot and had headaches. I sacrificed a relationship. It ended because I didn't want to worry about him out there any more. The financial hardships were bad. Some jurors ended up borrowing from each other. There were expenses on the weekend outings that we had to pick up ourselves." And there had been some racial tension among the jurors in the beginning. "The whites and the Mexican would sit at one table for meals, the rest of us at another. Then one day Gina Rosborough, Juror No. 10, and I just went and sat down at their table and started talking, and that's how we got to know them. The problem seemed to go away. It was kind of forced integration."
The last night of sequestration--after the verdict had been reached--was spent in high spirits in the spectacular $1,200-a-night Presidential Suite on the 17th floor of the Hotel Inter-Continental. The jurors laughed, schmoozed and sang together as a pianist performed jazzy sing-along tunes on the suite's baby grand. Said hotel general manager Lewis Fader, who was at the party: "They were like a fraternity. They seemed so close to each other. There was a lot of hugging and kissing." A juror went back and forth drinking beer, wine, beer, wine, said one hotel staffer. "I'm sure a few of them had hangovers the next day."
The jurors had had smaller parties before. In May, Gary Nelson, an actor-comedian from San Francisco, performed for them. Says he: "One of the ladies made a comment that they were planning a party after the trial, some kind of get-together with all the jurors, and they wanted me to come and entertain. So I said, 'Sure, but can I bring a guest?' And she said, 'We're going to bring O.J. Don't you think the man needs a good party after all this?' I was pretty shocked."