Simpson Jury Is Shown Contents of Safe-Deposit Box
Feb. 03, 1995
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The jurors in the O.J. Simpson case Thursday were shown items from the safe-deposit box in which Nicole Brown Simpson documented her 1989 beating through photos, newspaper clippings and letters from Simpson that asked, ``How I got so crazy?''
``Let me start by expressing to you how wrong I was for hurting you,'' Simpson wrote to his then-wife. ``There is no exceptible excuse for what I did.''
Authorities found the evidence _ three letters, photos of her bruised body, her will, newspaper stories about the beating and other items _ when they drilled opened the box in December, six months after Ms. Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death.
Proscutors contend her murder was the culmination of years of abuse from an jealous, obsessive Simpson.
``It appears to us what Nicole Brown was doing was leaving a trail for us of what happened in 1989,'' Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden said.
The handwritten letters were projected page by page on a large courtroom screen. Each page was held there briefly for the jurors to read.
The judge didn't allow the newspaper articles to be entered as evidence, and the jurors weren't immediately shown the photos.
Simpson pleaded no contest to wife beating in the incident and was placed on probation.
Prosecutors turned their attention to the safe-deposit box after completing questioning of former policeman Ronald Shipp, who fought off defense attempts to portray him as a liar and a starstruck wannabe friend who lusted after Ms. Simpson.
Under a second day of cross-examination, Shipp said he once had a serious drinking problem and acknowledged he was treated by a psychiatrist and left the police department because he was ``burned out.''
But he stood by his account that the day after the June 12 murders, Simpson confided in him that he had had dreams of killing his ex-wife. He also insisted that the former football star had regarded him as a friend.
``I got drunk at O.J.'s wedding and made a fool out of myself,'' Shipp offered as proof, ``and he accepted it and made a joke about it later on.''
Before he left the stand, Shipp said he saw Simpson throughout the week after his ex-wife's slaying and didn't detect any signs of grief.
``Did he ever express any sadness or sense of loss because Nicole was gone?'' Darden asked.
``I didn't see it because of Nicole, no,'' Shipp replied.
In fact, Shipp said, Simpson seemed angry as he watched TV news reports about the slayings. ``I saw anger at the news coverage that he was actually being accused of murdering'' them, the witness said.
During a break in questioning, Shipp mouthed to Simpson across the room: ``Tell the truth.'' Simpson appeared not to notice. Judge Lance Ito sternly cautioned jurors to disregard any such remarks.
In another development, defense jury consultant Jo-Ellan Dimitrius said there have been reports of possible juror misconduct. ``It's serious enough that the judge has thought that it needs to be evaluated by another agency,'' she said without elaborating.
Shipp has said that on June 13, Simpson said he didn't want to take a lie-detector test because he had had dreams of killing his ex-wife.
The jurors heard testimony about the dreams, but the judge wouldn't let them hear any mention of lie-detector tests because such evidence is inadmissible.
The defense has denied that any such conversation took place and has suggested that Shipp was no confidant of Simpson's.
Defense attorney Carl Douglas, in a cross-examination much toned down from his attack on Shipp on Wednesday, sought to paint the witness as someone who tried to grab some of the glory that attended Simpson by parading his police buddies in and out of Simpson's estate.
Shipp portrayed Simpson as an obliging celebrity who signed autographs for his policemen friends and let about 40 of them over the past five years tour the trophy room at his estate.
``You would come by and basically show off your friendship to a Hall of Famer, true?'' Douglas asked.
``What I would do, I mean, yeah, that's true,'' Shipp replied.
At another point, Douglas asked, ``Isn't it true you told your friends if Mr. Simpson wasn't around you'd have a shot at Nicole Brown Simpson yourself?''
``No,'' said the witness with a slight laugh. ``Excuse me for smiling, but no.''
Douglas suggested that Shipp was lying in his account of the ``dream'' conversation, asserting that Shipp recounted Simpson discussing the discovery of the bloody glove even though, at the time, police had not told Simpson about it.
Shipp said he didn't know what police had told Simpson, but was confident about the nature of his conversation with Simpson.
``I know what I heard,'' he said.
According to a transcript of Simpson's police interview earlier that day, police didn't reveal the existence of the glove to Simpson. The transcript was published in Star magazine, and authorities have never disputed its accuracy.
On June 14, the morning after the alleged dream conversation, newspapers reported a glove was found, but Simpson's then-attorney, Howard Weitzman, denied any knowledge of it.
Under questioning by Darden, Shipp said that he refused to sell his story to TV or the tabloids because ``that was blood money and I didn't want any part of it.'' He said he cooperated with the author of a book, ``Raging Heart,'' because profits would be shared with Simpson's young children.
Earlier, Shipp said his drinking ``got out of hand'' in 1983, and he got a 15-day suspension when he showed up to work with alcohol on his breath. Shipp said the problem ended when he left the Los Angeles Police Department in 1989, but he admitted he has gotten drunk in the years since.
Shipp, however, denied being drunk _ or even drinking _ the night he claims Simpson talked about dreams.
Shipp also revealed that he saw a psychiatrist in 1989 and said he left the LAPD that year after 15 years on the force because of stress. ``To be perfectly honest, my wife can verify this and my family, I was burned out,'' he said.
As for his friendship with Simpson, Shipp, an occasional actor, said that he never asked Simpson for help with his career or for anything else. ``To this day,'' he said, ``I don't have an autographed picture of O.J. for myself''
``Were you just acting here in court today and yesterday?'' Darden asked.
``No,'' the witness said with a wry smile. ``I am not that good.'''