AP NEWS
Related topics

A longtime friend of O.J. Simpson testified today the football star told h

February 1, 1995

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A longtime friend of O.J. Simpson testified today the football star told him he was defending himself from his wife’s attacks during their New Year’s 1989 argument, and that it began while they were having sex.

Ronald Shipp, a former police officer who once taught new officers about domestic violence, said Simpson told him he ``didn’t really hit her.″

On Tuesday, the opening day of testimony, giant photos of a bruised Nicole Brown Simpson were projected on a courtroom screen. She called 911 early on New Year’s Day in 1989 and was heard screaming in the background.

Shipp testified that Simpson told him he and Ms. Simpson had been drinking that night. They got into an argument when they returned home.

``They were making love and I guess Nicole had wanted to stop for whatever reasons and they began to argue,″ Shipp said. Simpson told him she ``was the aggressor and came after him and that he was acting in self defense.″

Shipp took the stand after Judge Lance Ito ruled he could tell the jury about the Simpsons’ relationship, but not about a conversation in which Simpson allegedly told him he had dreamed about killing his ex-wife.

Before Ito ruled, Deputy District Attorney Hank Goldberg said Shipp’s testimony about the June 13 conversation would help prove that Simpson fatally stabbed Ms. Simpson in a jealous rage.

Defense attorney Carl Douglas objected, claiming ``the conversation did not occur.″

Ito at first allowed the testimony about the conversation, which came a day after Ms. Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were slain. But the judge quickly backed away, saying he will hear the testimony about the dreams outside of the jury’s presence to determine its relevancy to the murder case.

Shipp, according to Goldberg, quoted Simpson as saying: ``Hey to be truthful, Ron, man, I have had a lot of dreams about killing her.″

Goldberg told the judge the statement was ``powerful evidence″ of Simpson’s ``fatal obsession″ with Ms. Simpson.

Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School, said the prosecution took a risk in seeking Shipp’s testimony about Simpson’s alleged comments on his dreams.

``I think it’s safe to say that we don’t usually try people based on dreams,″ she said.

``This could be a double-edged sword for the prosecution,″ Levenson said. ``The prosecution wants to use it to show Simpson’s state of mind. But the defense will say the prosecution is really reaching if they have to use dreams to show a person’s state of mind.″

Shipp, a retired police officer, was identified by Douglas as the mysterious ``Leo″ in the opening pages of a ``Raging Heart,″ a new book about the case.

Shipp said he and Simpson were close friends for more than 25 years. When asked by prosecutor Chris Darden if they were still friends, he said: ``I still love the guy, but I don’t know, I mean, this is a weird situation I’m sitting in.″

Two or three days after she was beaten on New Year’s 1989, Ms. Simpson still had injuries, said Shipp, who was asssigned to the police department’s domestic violence unit.

``She had some injuries that had started to fade,″ he said. ``There was some swelling about her head somewhere. It was covered up pretty good. She had makeup on.″

Prosecutors allege that Simpson killed his wife in a jealous rage after years of abusing her. They used the New Year’s 1989 beating as a launching pad for their case.

On Tuesday, the trial’s first three witnesses were an operator who took her 911 call and two officers who investigated the case. Simpson eventually pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation.

Detective John Edwards told jurors that after he responded to the 911 call, Ms. Simpson emerged from bushes wearing only a bra and muddy sweatpants and collapsed in his arms in the darkness, crying, ``He’s going to kill me!″

``I said, `Who’s going to kill you?″ recalled Edwards, who was a patrol officer responding to the 911 call. ``She said, `O.J.′

Edwards described Ms. Simpson’s beaten face, cut left lip and bruised forehead.

``She said there was two other women living in the house and that O.J. Simpson had sex with one of them prior to going to bed that night with her,″ Edwards said, adding that he asked for no names.

He also told of a truculent Simpson who emerged from the house in his bathrobe, berated his wife and fled in his blue Bentley rather than face arrest.

``He seemed very furious,″ Edwards told jurors. ``He said, `I don’t want that woman in my bed anymore. I’ve got two other women. I don’t want that woman in my bed anymore.‴

Simpson appeared surprised by Edwards’ testimony. He laughed and shook his head. In cross-examination, the defense provided the information that a maid and a nanny lived at Simpson’s house.

In other testimony, Detective Mike Farrell, who investigated the New Year’s case days later, said Simpson expressed regret and was ``really remorseful.″

``He told me that he was sorry for what he did to Nicole, that he didn’t mean to harm her in any way and would seek counseling,″ Farrell recalled.

As Farrell left the stand, Simpson mumbled, ``Thanks for being honest.″