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Selected Testimony in O.J. Simpson Trial

February 16, 1995

Excerpts from testimony Thursday in the O.J. Simpson trial:

(In the following segment, defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. questions Detective Ron Phillips on the late arrival of a coroner to the crime scene on the morning of June 13.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY JOHNNIE COCHRAN JR.: Did you ever have any training or seminar as to what they meant about immediate notification?

DETECTIVE RON PHILLIPS: Well, I know what they’re _ they’re referring to. But this is a black-and-white thing you’re referring to. And I deal in the gray area out here. When you walk out to a crime scene, you just don’t immediately turn around and make a phone call to the coroner’s office. You have to see what you have. You have to investigate what you have. You have to talk to some certain people and so as soon as practicable, you immediately make that notification. It’s not one of the first things you do when you get to a crime scene. It never has been, Mr. Cochran.

COCHRAN: But I’m talking to you about this change in the chief’s office, November 17, 1993, which I believe you told us about because the coroner’s office had some kind of complaint or concerns; is that correct?

PHILLIPS: I told you I wasn’t aware of the complaints that were being made and I wasn’t aware of the investigation. But I think the complaint was basically because we would call and then we would wait hours and hours and hours for a coroner’s office to show up. So this was implemented so it would cut down on our delay time in waiting for a coroner and their time when they were going to arrive, so we would both work together to where we could get the coroner’s office there at a time when we were ready for them.

COCHRAN: Would you agree with me that waiting from 12:15 to 6:50 in the morning, do you think that’s immediate for the first call?

PHILLIPS: Well, no. But the circumstances out there dictated that. And as it says, as you read further on in this special order, why we waited further.

COCHRAN: I see. But you said the circumstances dictated. But if it impinges upon the ability of the coroner to do their job and somebody’s freedom might also be determined by the _

DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY MARCIA CLARK: Objection, Your Honor.

COCHRAN: I’m trying to finish the question.

JUDGE LANCE ITO: It’s argumentative.

COCHRAN: Well, let’s see if I can restate it in a less argumentative fashion, Your Honor.

ITO: Thank you.

COCHRAN: If the coroner’s not being notified affected the coroner in determining the cause of the time of death in a particular case, do you think that’s pretty important circumstance?

PHILLIPS: If that occurred.

COCHRAN: And did you think that might be certainly more important than notifying the press relations officer downtown about the press crawling on the scene like ants? If you compared the two, do you think that would be more important?

PHILLIPS: Well, the coroner’s office was notified, Mr. Cochran.

COCHRAN: I’m _ No. I’m asking if you compared the press relations office and your concern with that, with the notification of the coroner, who could then come out and start a process by which he could perhaps with greater specificity determine the cause of death, wouldn’t you think that’s more important?

PHILLIPS: Well, it would be more important to have the coroner out there, sure, than it would be to notify the coroner _ the press relations officer but _ COCHRAN: All right. You answered.

PHILLIPS: I did them both at the same time.

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