Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trial near Simpson's Offers Justice as Usual

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trial near Simpson's Offers Justice as Usual

Article excerpt

Three doors down from the "Trial of the Century," a gruesome stabbing murder trial has proceeded apace with only one prosecutor and one defense attorney, a single day of DNA testimony and absolutely no media attention.

And no computer monitors and 87-inch video screens. In the Ernest Dwayne Jones case, overlapping photos of evidence were pinned to an old-fashioned bulletin board.

When the prosecutor was asked to move the overhead projector to give jurors a better view of DNA slides, he didn't have an extension cord.

One other difference between the case of Jones, who was charged with raping and brutally stabbing his girlfriend's mother, and O.J. Simpson, accused of viciously slashing his ex-wife and her acquaintance: Prosecutors sought capital punishment in the Jones case, and he is likely to be sentenced to death.

Some say that the Simpson case provides an eager public with an illustrative primer on criminal justice. But the truth is that Jones' case is far more reflective of day-to-day life in America's largest county criminal courts system, that of Los Angeles County.

For one thing, most murder trials rarely draw so much as a hiccup from the press.

"Once," recalled Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Ramseyer, who is prosecuting Jones, "a reporter came in and said he was bored with the O.J. case and wanted to see what was going on elsewhere on the floor.

"There's a certain irony about the fact there has been no reporting on our case at all."

The simultaneous Jones and Simpson trials raise two questions about the criminal justice system: whether monied defendants can buy a superior defense and whether the punishment is proportionate for similar crimes.

Indeed, the foreman of the jury that recommended Jones be put to death declares that a legal Dream Team and a bottomless wallet could have resulted in a more favorable outcome for Jones.

"If he had had Johnnie Cochran and his resources, he wouldn't be sentenced to death," said foreman Robert Reagan.

"I base this on nothing more than a gut feeling," continued Reagan, who stresses that he believes the Jones jury reached the correct decision. "(But) if they brought in six psychiatrists . …

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