- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

MIAMI (AP) O.J. Simpson was acquitted yesterday of grabbing another driver's glasses and scratching the man's face in a road-rage argument that the former football star insisted was started by the other man.
After the verdict, Simpson put his hand to his chest and mouthed, "Thank you" as he nodded toward the jury. He then hugged his attorneys.
"I'm a little bit angry and a little bit happy a lot happy," Simpson said as he left the courthouse.
Simpson, 54, faced up to 16 years in jail had he been convicted of auto burglary and battery for last year's dispute with Jeffrey Pattinson in their suburban Miami neighborhood.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes.
Mr. Pattinson was not in the courtroom.
He did not immediately return a telephone message.
The two men offered vastly different accounts of what happened. Mr. Pattinson said Simpson ran a stop sign, then acted like "a madman" after Mr. Pattinson got him to pull over by flashing his lights and honking his horn.
Simpson accused the other man of "sitting on his horn." He said he thought Mr. Pattinson was seeking an autograph or was trying to tell him about a problem with his car, which also was carrying Simpson's two young children.
He denied reaching inside Mr. Pattinson's car to take the glasses and said the two men confronted each other outside their vehicles.
Simpson said Mr. Pattinson lied about staying in his car, which prompted the prosecutor to ask whether Simpson would ever lie. Simpson responded, "I've never been put in that position to have to lie with my life on the line."
Simpson offered no explanation for the scratch on Mr. Pattinson's face but explained his thumbprint on the glasses by saying it must have happened when he brushed them away as he broke off the 30-second, profanity-laced confrontation.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Abbe Rifkin did everything but call Simpson a liar, saying the actor came out in him as he testified.
"He is a figment of his own imagination. He's a legend in his own mind," she said. "Mr. Simpson's story changes and evolves with time."
Defense attorney Yale Galanter said Mr. Pattinson chased down Simpson to provoke a confrontation after Simpson turned in front of him at a stop sign.
"Pattinson became a vigilante," Mr. Galanter said. "He wants to play cop instead of calling a cop."
Simpson was cleared of criminal charges in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, but a civil jury later ordered him to pay $33.5 million for their deaths. He moved to Florida last year.

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