The New Kato Comes to Court to Describe Moody Simpson
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ Meet the new Kato Kaelin: calmer, cleaner cut, clearer headed _ and even more trouble for O.J. Simpson.
Gone was the addle-minded, open-collared, longhaired flake who brought comedic relief to the criminal trial but failed to impress jurors.
Testifying Tuesday in the wrongful death trial, the new Kaelin _ hair cut shorter, dressed in a jacket and tie _ gave a confident, streamlined account of the days surrounding the killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Kaelin, Simpson’s former houseguest, said Simpson brooded over his ex-wife’s sex life and complained of her grip on their two children _ all before the slayings.
Kaelin also survived a long, detailed cross-examination, never wavering from the plaintiffs’ most important points: Simpson had time to kill and that the famed wall thumps came from an area where a bloody glove was found.
Kaelin’s testimony came on the heels of more domestic violence evidence. Jurors heard an audio tape of Ms. Simpson saying she was afraid of Simpson’s rages. The jury also saw more pictures of a bruised and scratched Ms. Simpson _ photos posthumously taken from her safety deposit box.
Simpson was once again missing from court, apparently in Orange County attending the custody trial over his two younger children.
The relatives of Ms. Simpson and Goldman are suing Simpson, claiming he was responsible for the June 12, 1994, killings. Simpson was acquitted of murder last year.
The trial resumes today with testimony from limousine driver Allan Park and FBI shoe print expert William Bodziak. Simpson is to testify Friday.
On Tuesday, Kaelin spent most of the day on the stand, providing details plaintiffs say point to motive.
Kaelin testified, for instance, that Simpson complained that Ms. Simpson was ``playing hardball″ with him about seeing his daughter at a dance recital hours before the killings.
Also, Kaelin said, the day before the slayings Simpson was thinking about an event that had, a year earlier, sent him into a profanity-laced rage, resulting in Ms. Simpson’s 911 call to police.
Kaelin testified that on June 11, 1994, he and Simpson were watching a movie _ ``The World According to Garp″ _ when Simpson compared a scene involving oral sex to a night in 1992 when, looking through a window of her house, he watched his ex-wife have sex with a boyfriend on her sofa.
On Oct. 25, 1993, Simpson argued with his ex-wife about what he saw through the window, resulting in the 911 call that brought several police to Ms. Simpson’s home.
Jurors earlier Tuesday heard the secretly recorded tape of the police interviewing Simpson and his ex-wife.
``He gets this animalistic look to him,″ Ms. Simpson said on the tape. ``I get scared when he looks like that.″
Kaelin, meanwhile, repeated his account of the three thumps on his guest-house wall the night of the killings.
He said the thumps came between 10:40 p.m. and 10:50 p.m. The plaintiffs have said Ms. Simpson and Goldman were killed between 10:35 and 10:40. They contend Simpson, trying to sneak onto his property, slammed into the wall behind Kaelin’s room and dropped a bloody glove _ the match to one left at the crime scene a few miles away.
Under cross-examination, defense lawyer Robert Baker tried to show that in earlier testimony Kaelin leaned toward the earlier thump time, which would favor the defense. But Kaelin insisted he had always estimated the time since he hadn’t been looking at his watch.
Baker also tried to use Kaelin to get in evidence about former Detective Mark Fuhrman, who interviewed Kaelin the morning after the killings. The defense is now banned from introducing any of Fuhrman’s previous testimony.
Kaelin said he didn’t see Fuhrman for a good deal of time that morning _ giving the defense some grounds to argue that Fuhrman had the opportunity to plant the bloody glove. But the defense paid dearly for the Fuhrman questions.
Under redirect questioning, Kaelin said on the morning after the killings police warned him to avoid stepping in blood in Simpson’s foyer, blood that later would test positive for Simpson’s DNA type.
This warning came at about 7:30 a.m. _ while Simpson was on his way back from Chicago and long before police had access to a vial of Simpson’s blood, drawn later that afternoon. The defense has suggested that blood was taken from that vial and planted on some evidence items in the plot to frame Simpson.