Defense attorney: Simpson victim of corruption, contamination, tampering
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ O.J. Simpson was a victim of corruption, contamination, planting and tampering, a defense attorney told jurors today, but he acknowledged he couldn’t say exactly how it happened.
Robert Blasier, in a low-key summation delivered from a wheelchair, likened the defense in the wrongful death trial to a paint-by-numbers picture with some of the colors missing.
``The picture that we have, that’s our defense, is a picture of corruption, of contamination, of planting, tampering, and we don’t have all the paint. We’re not going to be able to paint you a complete picture of that. We’ll paint some of it.″
In his strongest suggestion of evidence tampering, Blasier pointed to mysterious markings on the packaging of crime scene blood drops. He said the packaging showed signs the blood swatches inside were still wet at a time when they should have been dry _ and the blood could have been taken from a vial of Simpson’s own blood.
``There was plenty of his blood available to make those swatches. It would only take one person ...,″ Blasier said. ``Those swatches that were ultimately tested later on are not the Bundy (crime scene) drops, are not what was picked up off the ground.″
Blasier said he couldn’t explain why this was, when it was done or how it came to be.
Blasier spent much of his introductory remarks explaining why he was in a wheelchair, discussing his major back surgery over the Christmas break that left him with screws and metal plates in his body.
Speaking quietly and in a calm voice, Blasier, the only member of Simpson’s criminal trial Dream Team working on the civil case, insisted jurors should not trust the large amount of physical evidence, including blood drops and gloves.
``What was picked up at the crime scene is not necessarily the same thing that went to a lab,″ Blasier said.
He stressed that the defense will not be able to show in all instances how the evidence was corrupted. He drew a plaintiff objection when he said the defense would be unable to bring in a witness to say former Detective Mark Fuhrman swiped a bloody glove around Simpson’s Bronco and planted it at Simpson’s estate.
Blasier went through the scientific evidence in detail and suggested that most of it was either tainted by police mishandling or didn’t logically fit any scenario in which Simpson was the killer.
Blasier said, for instance, that if Simpson had dropped the bloody glove behind his house, there should have been blood drops on the walkway.
Another anomaly, Blasier said: ``If O.J. Simpson changed his clothes after the killings but before he went home, what did he change into? His left finger is still bleeding. Where’s the second set of bloody clothing?″
The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman blame Simpson for the June 12, 1994, deaths and want the jury to find Simpson liable and award millions in damages. The plaintiffs need a 9-3 vote to win. In October 1995, Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend on the doorstep of her condo.
The court day began with a miffed judge juggling the summation lineup because the defense told him it wouldn’t be finished by the lunch break, as originally intended.
Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki had wanted to finish summations late today with plaintiff’s rebuttal and the reading of jury instructions, with the case going to the jury late today.
Now, Fujisaki said, he was forced to continue summations on Monday; Friday is ruled out because he has to attend a judge’s conference. When he told this to the jury, he apologized and some of the jurors rolled their eyes.
On Wednesday, defense attorney Robert Baker began the summation, telling jurors Simpson was a victim of police wrongdoing, demonized by cynical attorneys bent on winning at all costs, and above all, innocent.
Baker contended Simpson had no motive to kill Ms. Simpson, no time to kill Ms. Simpson, no time even, in his busy work schedule, to stalk Ms. Simpson.
Everything from Simpson’s demeanor before and after the killings to the sloppy way incriminating evidence was left lying around prove that the plaintiffs’ theory makes no sense, Baker argued.
``It doesn’t pass the smell test,″ he said.
The lawsuit, Baker said, was about money, not justice, and he accused plaintiff lawyers of shamelessly trying to appeal to jurors’ emotions.
``You have just been subjected to a ploy for your sympathy,″ he said. ``You cannot put sympathy, passion or prejudice into your verdict. ... You must base your verdict on common sense.″
Baker never got to the physical evidence, the part of the summation being handled by Blasier today.
Baker’s comments, delivered in a hoarse, weakening, sometimes whispering voice, were a far cry from Johnnie Cochran Jr.’s revival-meeting, preacher-style in the murder trial, when he boomed: ``If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.″
Baker did, for a moment, take a shot at such oratory rhyme when he contended that the timeline evidence favored Simpson.
``I’m no poet, but, obviously, if you don’t have the time, you most certainly can’t commit the crime,″ he said.
Otherwise, it was a straightforward, if sometimes scattershot, address. Working without notes, Baker leaped around from witness credibility, to plaintiff ploys, to domestic violence, to timeline, to Simpson demeanor all in less than three hours.
Earlier, spectators and family members wept quietly _ and some jurors appeared close to tears _ as plaintiffs’ lawyers played a videotape of a smiling, laughing Goldman and audiotapes of a frantic Ms. Simpson seeking help from police to save her from abuse.
``True justice would be to see Ron Goldman walk through that door or Nicole Brown Simpson playing with her children,″ attorney Daniel Petrocelli said. ``That is not going to happen. They are gone forever.″