Joel Steinberg was optimistic when jurors asked for clarification of murder laws, indicating they might be torn over his guilt or innocence in the death of his illegally adopted daughter, an attorney said.

"For the first time during deliberations, he is feeling more optimistic," defense attorney Ira London said Tuesday.The jury returned Wednesday for a third day of deliberations.

Jurors on Tuesday asked state Supreme Court Justice Harold Rothwax if they could infer that Steinberg fatally beat 6-year-old Lisa Steinberg based on testimony that he beat his former live-in companion, Hedda Nussbaum. Rothwax told jurors they could not.

Steinberg, a disbarred attorney, is charged with murdering Lisa, whom he obtained at birth from an unwed teen-ager but never legally adopted.

The child was removed comatose from Steinberg's Greenwich Village apartment in 1987 and died at a hospital three days later of a brain injury.

Lisa's death in an affluent, well-educated househould attracted wide attention and raised questions about the duty and ability of neighbors, teachers and social workers to recognize and report evidence of child abuse.