Defense Juggles Witness List While Awaiting Ruling on Fuhrman Tapes
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A super-sleuth forensic expert testifying for O.J. Simpson’s defense said Tuesday he identified bloody imprints at the scene of two murders that could not have come from designer Italian shoes prosecutors tried to link to Simpson.
In an eventful day that saw the judge again threaten to black out TV coverage of the case, Dr. Henry Lee testified he spotted prints resembling ``a shoe″ on the walkway to Nicole Brown Simpson’s condominium when he visited the scene two weeks after she and her friend were murdered.
Lee also told jurors he saw distinctive imprints on an envelope and a piece of paper in crime scene pictures.
``In a close inspection of this envelope and this piece of paper, I discovered an imprint-like pattern exists on the paper. Those imprints have similar linear design. And those imprints made in blood,″ Lee said.
``Are the parallel lines imprint impressions that you have identified on the envelope and the piece of paper _ could those have come from a Bruno Magli shoe?″ defense attorney Barry Scheck asked.
``This two-dimensional pattern cannot come from a Bruno Magli shoe,″ Lee replied.
He was also asked whether the prints could have come from victim Ronald Goldman’s boot and he answered, ``No.″
When he visited the scene June 25, 1994, Lee said he found many prints still visible, including those previously identified by a prosecution witness as coming from a Bruno Magli shoe. But Lee said he saw prints of another design on a walkway tile and he photographed them.
For jurors, he drew a shoe’s outline around a faint pattern on the walkway.
``They aren’t shoeprints,″ Philip Vannatter, one of the lead detectives on the case, said outside court, hinting that prosecutors would try to refute that implication.
If additional bloody shoeprints were present, Lee’s testimony could either cast doubt on the prosecution’s one-killer theory or bolster the defense argument that sloppy investigators trampled evidence at the crime scene.
The envelope Lee referred to contained eyeglasses Goldman was delivering to Ms. Simpson. The piece of paper, repeatedly cited by the defense, was never collected as evidence.
Lee took the stand despite prosecution complaints that the defense had failed to disclose Lee’s notes and other material relevant to his testimony.
The judge said he would rule later on specific aspects of Lee’s testimony, which was expected to consume the balance of the court week.
Jurors, meanwhile, remained unaware that a series of tape recordings unearthed by the defense could change the course of the trial, undermining a key prosecution witness, former Detective Mark Fuhrman, by depicting him as a racist thug.
Fuhrman, who testified he found a bloody glove behind Simpson’s house that matched one picked up near the bodies of Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend, is the focus of a defense frame-up theory.
Attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. said the defense now believes Fuhrman utters racial slurs 40 times on the tapes and transcripts, recorded by a North Carolina screenwriting professor who was working on a project about women on the Los Angeles police force. In addition, Cochran said, Fuhrman makes 18 references to police misconduct.
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, clearly annoyed at defense attorneys’ sluggishness in delivering tapes and transcripts for his perusal, said he needed until next week to digest the material and decide whether jurors can hear the tapes. He called the task ``prodigious″ and said he would rule individually on each statement’s admissibility.
In a flare of temper, Ito also threatened at one point to pull the plug on TV coverage of the trial if lawyers don’t stop ``pandering to the cameras.″
``I’m concerned that ... attorneys from both sides have referred to what other people around this country may think,″ he said.
Ito also promised to rein in questioning of the remaining witnesses so jurors can begin deliberations shortly after Labor Day. That schedule, however, might be optimistic considering the time needed for Ito’s tape ruling and the rebuttal cases. Testimony began at the end of January.
The first witness jurors heard from Tuesday was Christian Reichardt, a chiropractor who was friendly with Simpson and his slain ex-wife. Reichardt was the boyfriend of Ms. Simpson’s confidant Faye Resnick, who wrote a book last year about the Simpsons’ rocky relationship.
Reichardt said Simpson phoned him about 9 p.m. on June 12, 1994, and they spoke for about 15 minutes, arranging to meet for dinner the following Wednesday. The prosecution claims Simpson went to his ex-wife’s home and killed her and her friend by about 10:15 that night.
``He seemed a little bit more relaxed than in the recent month. He seemed very jovial,″ Reichardt said of Simpson.
In the previous weeks, Reichardt said, Simpson had been upset and depressed over his failed efforts to reconcile with Ms. Simpson.
Prosecutor Christopher Darden posed a series of questions suggesting that Ms. Simpson had repeatedly tried to end the relationship.
``She changed her mind frequently about her relationship with him,″ Reichardt said. ``That’s what he was upset about.″
Darden, annoyed at Reichardt’s answers, snapped, ``Are you here to help the defendant?″
``Nope,″ Reichardt replied.
Darden then drew vehement defense objections when he asked: ``Is it your opinion, Dr. Reichardt, that Nicole Brown ... deserved to have her throat cut?″
``That’s not an appropriate question,″ Ito warned Darden.
Reichardt offered his memories of the Simpsons’ relationship and said it was normal for two people to feel down after the breakup of a long romance.
``Do you profess to be some doctor of love, now, Dr. Reichardt?″ Darden asked sarcastically, drawing laughter from jurors and the courtroom audience.
In other developments Tuesday:
_The defense called Chicago police Detective Kenneth Berris, who said he searched Simpson’s hotel room there and found a broken glass in the bathroom sink, a bloodstained wash cloth and spots of blood on the bed sheets. Defense lawyers offered this to support Simpson’s claim that he cut his hand on a glass after hearing news of his ex-wife’s death. But Darden suggested Simpson cut his hand in Los Angeles during the slayings and bled on the sheets from that wound. Berris said he couldn’t tell when Simpson cut his hand.
Under cross-examination, Berris said two plastic laundry bags were missing from the hotel room and are still unaccounted for. The killer’s bloody clothes and murder weapon have never been found, and the prosecution sought to show the laundry bags could have been used for their disposal.
_ The judge turned down a defense bid to recall an expert witness whose testimony concluded Monday. John Larry Ragle, a retired director of the Orange County police crime lab, wanted to tell jurors that Vannatter clashed with him after court, telling him he should be ashamed of his testimony.
Prosecutor Marcia Clark protested vehemently saying, ``This is absurd. These people want to put on everything they can think of, whether it’s relevant or not, to slime the Police Department.″
As her tone grew more agitated and her invective more sarcastic, the judge stopped her in mid-sentence and said such comments wouldn’t be tolerated. ``Let’s have an intelligent discussion,″ he said.
Clark then argued that the confrontation between Ragle and Vannatter was irrelevant, and the judge barred the testimony.