Simpson Defense: Acquit if it Doesn’t Fit
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Pounding away at the theme, ``If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,″ O.J. Simpson’s lawyer launched an all-out attack Wednesday on Mark Fuhrman, depicting the detective who found the too-tight bloody glove as a ``perjuring, genocidal racist.″
``This man is an unspeakable disgrace,″ Johnnie Cochran Jr. declared, saying Fuhrman set out to ``get″ Simpson by planting the glove behind Simpson’s house. ``He’s been unmasked to the whole world for what he is.″
Jurors sat rapt as Cochran’s voice rose to a shout in a packed courtroom during a late-evening session. He drew a scenario of corruption among officers propelled by vanity and the desire for fame, casting Simpson as their innocent victim.
He said none of the evidence brought in by Fuhrman could be trusted.
``He’s had it in for O.J. since 1985,″ Cochran said, alleging that Simpson became Fuhrman’s target after he answered a domestic dispute call at the Simpson estate and found out the black former football star was married to a white woman.
``Mark Fuhrman is a lying, perjuring, genocidal racist and from that point on, any time he could get O.J. Simpson he would,″ Cochran said as his presentation came to a climactic end.
It was a day of dueling summations as prosecutor Christopher Darden played Simpson’s recorded rage and the haunting pleas of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, while Cochran recalled the evidence gloves and other misplaced evidence.
Cochran’s summation gained momentum toward day’s end. He argued passionately, citing specific flaws in evidence and offered new theories on how police might have framed Simpson.
He promised to talk more about Fuhrman when his closing argument resumes Thursday.
At times, prosecutor Marcia Clark glared at Cochran or rolled her eyes at his comments. Some jurors took notes. Others just listened.
Displaying his flair for theatrics, Cochran at one point put on a dark knitted ski cap to rebuff a prosecution suggestion that Simpson wore a similar one as a disguise the night of the murders.
``If I put this knit cap on, who am I?″ Cochran asked jurors. ``I’m Johnnie Cochran with a knit cap on. From two blocks away, O.J. Simpson is O.J. Simpson.″
Known for his rapid-fire oratory, Cochran began slowly and quietly, reminding jurors of their duty under the law, apologizing for the trial’s length and telling them, ``In the journey toward justice, there is no short cut.″
As the evening wore on, he passionately outlined evidence he believes points to a broad frameup masterminded by lying detectives, including Fuhrman.
He said some evidence, including socks found near Simpson’s bed, had been tampered with. Cochran said Simpson had been wearing the socks at a formal event the night before the murders, and police found them, planted them and then sprinkled and smeared them with blood.
``O.J. could not, would not, did not commit these crimes,″ he declared, echoing words spoken by Simpson last week while jurors were absent.
He picked apart prosecutors’ timeline, saying there was no way Simpson could have murdered his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman in the limited time prosecutors say.
He cited the ``defining moment in the trial″ as the day Darden asked Simpson to try on the bloody gloves and the defendant told jurors they were too small.
``Remember these words,″ Cochran said. ``If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.″ He repeated that and other phrases to jurors almost as a mantra.
Cochran told jurors that Fuhrman lied under oath not just about using a racial epithet but about virtually every fact in the case. He ridiculed prosecution claims that Fuhrman and other detectives went to Simpson’s estate hours after the murders to notify him of the tragedy, not to seek evidence on him as a suspect.
``Can you imagine? Fuhrman with his genocidal views is going over to give O.J. Simpson help in his time of need?″ Cochran asked sarcastically. ``He is going to help him with his kids? Ridiculous.″
Cochran read large chunks of Fuhrman’s own testimony to show jurors signs pointed to a planted glove. He noted that Fuhrman, who went alone to the side of the house, said he found a glove that was ``moist and sticky″ more than seven hours after the killings.
``Why would it be moist and sticky unless he brought it over there and planted it there to try to make this case?″ Cochran asked.
At the start of the day, Darden used Simpson’s own voice against him, playing a 911 call that exposes Simpson’s fury and his ex-wife’s plea: ``O.J., O.J. The kids are sleeping.″
As Simpson sat across the courtroom conferring with his lawyers, Darden depicted the football Hall of Famer as a spurned man, an obsessed ex-husband driven by inner demons to kill.
Darden focused on the violence that erupted periodically during the Simpsons’ relationship. Often speaking so quietly he could barely be heard, Darden described Simpson as a man with a ``short fuse″ that burned every day toward the climactic moment when he took up a knife and released his rage.
On the 911 tape, recorded eight months before the slayings and played for jurors in a hushed courtroom, Simpson accused Ms. Simpson of failing to think of her children on another occasion when she was with a different man. In a calm voice, Ms. Simpson tried to quiet her husband because their two small children were in the house.
Darden urged jurors to remember the rage they heard on the tape and realize: ``He’s not the person you see on those commercials and football games. That’s a public facade.″
As the tape played, Ms. Simpson’s sister Tanya and mother, Juditha Brown, sat weeping.
Jurors looked glum as they listened. A few took notes; one man frowned.
When he took over, Cochran sought to resurrect Simpson’s image as a cheerful, doting father by showing jurors a home video of Simpson greeting his small son and his former in-laws at his daughter’s dance recital hours before the murders.
He showed jurors a photo taken that night of a beaming Simpson with his daughter Sydney holding flowers he had brought her.
``Where’s the fuse now, Mr. Darden?″ Cochran snapped. ``He’s a proud papa.″
As the photo was shown, Simpson smiled slightly and sat like that proud father described by his attorney.
Darden, trying to tie together the prosecution’s motive theory, reminded jurors of the story they had heard repeatedly, a scenario of events leading to the June 12, 1994, murders.
The prosecutor told of Simpson’s demeanor that day and suggested he had been spurned not only by his ex-wife but by his girlfriend, Paula Barbieri, who left his home after he declined to take her along to the recital.
At the recital, he said, Ms. Simpson ignored him.
``He’d been rejected in public,″ Darden said, suggesting that’s what drove Simpson to plan for murder. ``He can’t find Paula. He’s got a problem with Nicole. He’s about to lose all the women, both the women in his life, and the fuse is getting shorter, and the frustration is building, and the anger is building.″
The only release for his simmering rage, Darden suggested, was to take a knife and kill.
``The hatred he has for her that night flows out of him into the knife and into her,″ Darden said. ``He kills her and he kills Goldman in this rage. ... There was a gradual release.″
Reminding jurors of the two victims, Darden showed jurors color portraits of them in life. As the pictures were propped up for jurors, other images were flashed above on the 7-foot-high courtroom screen: Ms. Simpson’s battered face allegedly after a beating by Simpson; Ms. Simpson and Goldman lying dead in pools of blood.
The victims’ families sobbed. As Darden left the courtroom, Ms. Simpson’s father hugged him.
At the end of the day, as Cochran left the courthouse surrounded by his new body guards, a group of people chanted, ``Johnnie! Johnnie!″