Kaelin Tells Jurors About Night of Murders
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Quirky prosecution witness Brian ``Kato″ Kaelin described an evening with O.J. Simpson that provides a possible timeline for murder and told jurors Wednesday about a previously undisclosed quarrel Simpson had with his ex-wife that day.
Kaelin said Simpson confided in him after returning from his daughter Sydney’s dance recital June 12, 1994, just hours before Nicole brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were slashed to death.
``He said Sydney was great at the recital,″ Kaelin recalled, ``that Nicole was there and some friends.″
``What, if anything, did he say about Nicole?″ Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark asked.
``He wanted to talk to Sydney, and I don’t think _ Nicole wasn’t going to give him time to talk to Sydney, and I think they (Ms. Simpson and her children) went off somewhere,″ he said.
Clark asked Kaelin if Simpson was allowed to spend any time with his daughter and the witness said, ``A short time.″
Clark at times struggled to pry answers out of Kaelin, who although more subdued than when he first took the stand Tuesday still displayed flashes of impish humor.
When Clark asked if Simpson was excited when Kaelin invited himself to go get a hamburger the night of the murders, Kaelin paused, then said: ``Wouldn’t you?″
Simpson and the jurors laughed aloud, and even the judge smiled. During most of his testimony, however, jurors listened intently, and some took notes. Kaelin took frequent gulps of water from a red plastic cup on the witness stand ledge.
Kaelin, 36, a would-be actor with a thatch of long, blond hair, was living in Simpson’s guest house rent-free in the summer of 1994. His testimony is crucial because he was the last person to see Simpson before the time period when prosecutors contend his ex-wife and her friend were murdered and one of the very few to see Simpson shortly after that hour.
Kaelin’s report of thumps on a wall at Simpson’s estate about 10:40 p.m. was seized upon by police and prosecutors as a keystone of their circumstantial case. Authorities have found no murder weapon, no eyewitnesses and no bloody clothes. But they say the timeline provided by Kaelin points to Simpson as the killer.
On Wednesday, Kaelin pounded his fist on the witness stand to demonstrate the three loud thumps he first thought signaled an earthquake the night of the murders.
Prosecutors contend Simpson went to his ex-wife’s condominium, committed murder, returned home and dropped a bloody glove behind Kaelin’s room before rushing to meet a limousine that was waiting to take him to the airport about 11 p.m. Simpson went to Chicago for a planned business trip.
Simpson was more animated during Kaelin’s testimony than he has been in weeks, most of which were filled with testimony from police.
Simpson chuckled when Kaelin peppered his testimony with wisecracks but seemed outraged by Clark’s implication that he stopped Kaelin from loading one of his bags into the limousine because he had something to hide.
Kaelin’s account was almost identical to the one he gave at last summer’s preliminary hearing, which resulted in Simpson being held for trial.
Kaelin said he encountered Simpson throughout June 12, first in the afternoon when he heard him talking on the phone with girlfriend Paula Barbieri and later to Kaelin’s friend, Playboy model Tracy Adell. The latter conversation, he said, concerned business.
Simpson went to his daughter’s recital in the late afternoon and talked with Kaelin when he returned. He said he had to pack for a trip to Chicago and was displeased that he was booked on a ``red-eye″ flight.
Late in the evening, Kaelin said, Simpson came to his room and said he needed change to pay a skycap because he only had $100 bills. Kaelin gave him $20. He told his house guest he was going out for a hamburger, and Kaelin said he asked, ``Can I go?″
Together, they left for McDonald’s in Simpson’s Bentley about 9:10 p.m. Simpson wore a dark sweatsuit and looked tired, Kaelin said.
``There was some conversation about the flight and the airline, being tired. At one point I said, `You ought to take a nap. You look tired.″
``What did he say?″ Clark asked.
``He probably wouldn’t have time to.″
Kaelin said Simpson ordered their food at the drive-up window and ate his hamburger while driving the car.
``He finished pretty fast, ate and drove,″ said Kaelin, who added that he nibbled a few french fries but took his hamburger home.
Back at Simpson’s estate, Kaelin said, he last saw Simpson standing at the driver’s door of the Bentley. He said he returned to his room and made a phone call.
Kaelin’s telephone bill, enlarged for jurors, recorded the call at 9:37 p.m.
Kaelin said he made another call at 10:10 p.m., to friend Rachel Ferrara, and during that call, ``I heard a thumping noise.″ He estimated the time at 10:40 to 10:45 p.m. and said he thought at first there had been an earthquake, then suspected a prowler.
But when he went outside with a small flashlight, he said he saw nothing. Twice, he said, he returned to the pathway where a police detective later found a glove stained with blood from Simpson and the victims. Kaelin said he never walked back to the area where the glove was found.
Minutes later, he said, he spotted a limousine and driver waiting for Simpson and let the driver enter the gate. He said he helped load Simpson’s baggage, but when he leaned down to pick up a dark knapsack, Simpson said, ``I’ll get it.″
Prosecutors have never explained why the knapsack is important, but Clark told the jury in her opening statement, ``That small, dark bag was never seen again.″
At 11:15 p.m., Kaelin said, Simpson left for the airport. Moments earlier, the defendant had asked Kaelin to set the burglar alarm in the house. When Kaelin said he didn’t know the code, Simpson said he would do it, he testified.
``I started going back to my room,″ Kaelin said of Simpson’s departure, ``and I saw the green light on the alarm, that it wasn’t set.″