New Witness _ Another Dog-Walking Neighbor _ Didn't See Bronco at Key Time
Mar. 31, 1995
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A surprise witness raised new doubts about O.J. Simpson's alibi Friday, testifying he didn't see Simpson's Bronco outside his estate the night of two murders but did spot it parked at the curb early the next morning.
Charles Cale, a Simpson neighbor and a late addition to the prosecution's case, said he was walking his dog between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. on June 12 and didn't see the vehicle that prosecutors allege Simpson used to drive two miles to Nicole Brown Simpson's condominium to commit the murders as late as 10:15 p.m.
``Are you certain the Bronco was not parked near the gate at Rockingham (Avenue) that Sunday evening?'' Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden asked.
``I'm very certain,'' he said.
Simpson maintains the Bronco was parked there all evening and that he was at home at the time Ms. Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were fatally slashed. The vehicle was discovered the next morning by police detectives, who have testified they found blood just above the Bronco's door handle.
Simpson's defense appeared caught unprepared for Cale's testimony. It was revealed in court that even though Cale gave his statement to police in January, a defense investigator didn't try to contact him until Wednesday afternoon, when Cale declined an interview because he didn't feel well. The defense did not talk with Cale before he took the stand.
Cale, who described himself as a self-employed investor who lives within a quarter-mile of Simpson's estate, said he saw the Bronco about 7 a.m. the next day as he was being driven to the airport for a trip to Canada.
``I was surprised to see it,'' Cale said. ``I noticed that it was parked at sort of a strange angle. Also, I had not noticed it the prior day, the prior evening.''
The testimony strengthened the timeline prosecutors have been sketching for the night of the murders, seeking to show Simpson had the opportunity to kill.
Simpson returned home, in a Bentley, from a trip to McDonald's about 9:35 p.m., his houseguest Brian ``Kato'' Kaelin testified earlier.
Prosecutors believe the murders were committed about 10:15 p.m. and base that time on the unusual howling of a dog heard by several witnesses. Authorities say blood recovered from inside the Bronco matches that of victims.
In addition to Cale, limousine driver Allan Park also testified he saw no Bronco parked on Rockingham that night. He arrived at Simpson's home at 10:22 p.m.
Cale's description of the parked Bronco, with ``the rear wheels ... out a little bit,'' backed up observations made by detectives when they examined the car the morning after the killings.
Cale said he was familiar with Simpson's property and was acquainted with the owner. ``We've seen each other in the neighborhood and I know him from passing,'' he said.
Late in the morning, after jurors were dismissed for the weekend, the defense questioned two police photographers and one detective about a videotape taken as police searched Simpson's estate last year. Such videos are routine to protect police against future claims of breakage or theft.
The defense, which is challenging the prosecution's intention to show the video in court, froze individual frames, zeroing in on things like a brown leather glove on an end table and an Oriental carpet at the foot of Simpson's bed. The significance of the emphasis was unclear.
Police did not interview Cale until Jan. 25, sometime after a friend of Cale's contacted authorities to recount a conversation they'd had about the Bronco.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Robert Shapiro pressed Cale why he hadn't said anything about the Bronco until recently. Cale said he never thought about the Bronco until this year, when news reports indicated the vehicle's location had become central to Simpson's alibi that he was home.
``In June, there was never an issue that I was aware of about where the Bronco was or was not parked,'' said Cale.
Rosa Lopez, a maid who worked for Simpson's next-door neighbor, insists she saw the Bronco parked outside Simpson's estate shortly after 10 p.m. June 12. Her defense testimony was videotaped before she returned to her native El Salvador, but her credibility has been assailed and Simpson's attorneys have not decided whether to show her testimony to jurors.
Shapiro questioned Cale sharply on why he was paying such close attention to the Simpson property that night and why he could remember what was or was not parked there so long ago.
``Is there anything in particular about the Simpson residence that causes you to focus on it?'' the lawyer asked.
``Yes, Mr. Simpson is a celebrity, certainly one of the most well-known people in the neighborhood,'' he said.
Shapiro also asked Cale why he didn't talk to a defense investigator Wednesday or return Shapiro's phone call Thursday evening. Cale said he was feeling poorly both days and did not know until early Friday that he was being called to the stand for the morning session.
Shapiro then asked why Cale didn't try to talk to him in court prior to testifying.
``Mr. Shapiro, I was sitting here,'' Cale replied. ``I expected you to come back. You didn't.''