LOS ANGELES, NOV. 8 -- Al Cowlings, O.J. Simpson's lifelong friend who drove the former football star in a slow-speed freeway chase from police, will not be charged due to lack of evidence, District Attorney Gil Garcetti said today.

Garcetti said a grand jury investigation of Cowlings, which began shortly after the bizarre Bronco ride on June 17, has ended.

"I'm saying we can't prove the case," Garcetti said in an unusual, impromptu news conference in an elevator. "It does not meet our filing standards, and we are treating this case like we would any other case in making that kind of decision."

Garcetti said Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden, who led the Cowlings investigation, will move to the Simpson prosecution team, a transfer immediately criticized by Simpson's attorneys. Since the Cowlings inquiry began, they had maintained the prosecutor's office investigated Cowlings only to gain more information about Simpson.

Cowlings's attorney, Donald Re, said his client was "very, very happy, but ... it's not over for him."

"His best friend is in custody, and Nicole was his friend, and she's gone," Re said. "He's still got a lot to grapple with."

Simpson attorney Johnnie L. Cochran called the Cowlings investigation a "charade." He said Darden's addition to the prosecution was "for the wrong reasons" and appeared to be a reaction to the recent selection of a predominantly African American jury.

Race has been an issue throughout this trial because Simpson is black and the victims were white. Darden would be the first African American on the prosecution's team.

"Now we see {Darden} pop over to this case," Cochran said. "So. Gee. What does that seem like to you? ... It seems like we were right all along. All along he was planning on working on the O.J. Simpson case. Now why is that? After we have eight African Americans, I don't know."

Cowlings was arrested on suspicion of aiding a fugitive for his role in the chase that wound its way through Orange and Los Angeles counties, five days after Simpson's ex-wife and a friend were found dead.

On the day of the chase, Simpson's attorneys read, on national television, what appeared to be a suicide note from the celebrity. Simpson recently told Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito in a closed hearing that he was traveling to see his ex-wife, buried in an Orange County cemetery, that day.

Prosecutors recently revealed, however, that police had retrieved a gun, $8,000 in cash, Simpson's passport and a disguise of some kind from the Bronco after the men surrendered at Simpson's estate in Brentwood.

The entire freeway episode was televised, with an estimated 95 million viewers.

Attorney Re had maintained that Cowlings was trying to save the life of his best friend, who was distraught over the killings. Cowlings and Simpson grew up in the same poor neighborhood of San Francisco and both used their athletic abilities to propel them into college and professional football careers.

Jury selection in the Simpson case continued today with a new pool of 119 prospective jurors, 15 of whom will be selected as alternates. A panel of 12 jurors was picked last week.

Ito issued two court orders today advising jurors and prospective jurors on how to avoid media coverage of the case.

Under Ito's order, jurors will be given daily newspapers of their choice, with any coverage of the case removed. Jurors and prospective jurors also were banned from watching a range of television shows that could have programs about Simpson, including news programs, morning news shows such as "Today" and "Good Morning America," tabloid shows such as "Hard Copy" and "A Current Affair," ESPN's "Sports Center" and "Dennis Miller Live" on HBO.

They will be allowed to watch "normal television entertainment programming, including sports and home shopping channels," the order said. But the jurors were cautioned to avoid watching ads for upcoming news broadcasts.

They also were ordered to avoid radio. Ito said today he had successfully negotiated with video distributors to acquire audio books and compact discs, unrelated to Simpson, for their use.