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Simpson Defense Zeroes in On Melting Ice Cream, Nicole’s Bath Water

February 14, 1995

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The first police officer on the scene of the murders in the O.J. Simpson case acknowledged Tuesday he didn’t preserve a melting cup of ice cream or check the temperature of Nicole Brown Simpson’s bath water _ evidence the defense suggested could have helped fix the time of the slayings.

But Officer Robert Riske repeatedly told jurors it wasn’t his job to preserve or photograph evidence or to watch the experts do so. He said he was there to look for victims and ``secure the scene.″

And he said that just because he doesn’t know of any pictures being made of the ice cream or flickering candles in Ms. Simpson’s bathroom doesn’t mean such photos weren’t taken.

Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. undertook an item-by-item dissection of the evidence in a campaign to cast doubt on police work in the case and suggest that investigators overlooked or mishandled evidence.

Cochran and prosecutor Marcia Clark questioned Riske closely about what he reported was a cardboard cup of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream found melting on a bannister in Ms. Simpson’s condominium about 12:30 or 12:40 a.m. on June 13.

That’s more than two hours after the prosecution alleges the slayings of Ms. Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman took place outside her door. Simpson had left home for the airport around 11 p.m. on June 12 for a flight to Chicago.

The defense is expected to argue that the melting rate of the ice cream suggests the crime took place later in the evening.

Riske said the ice cream wasn’t immediately photographed and he didn’t know if it ever was. The officer also said he had no idea what the flavor it was or whether it might have been yogurt. He said he didn’t lift it to see whether it left a ring on the bannister.

Clark suggested that Ms. Simpson could have put the ice cream in the freezer and then taken it out later, and that a pink plastic spoon on the floor beneath the cup had fallen out of the ice cream as it melted.

Riske also said that candles burning in Ms. Simpson’s bathroom weren’t immediately photographed, and that he never checked the temperature of her bath water. Ms. Simpson had apparently filled the tub for a candlelit bath when death came to call.

The officer said repeatedly that he was careful not to disturb any evidence because he wanted to preserve the crime scene for the investigators.

Riske said he did not check trash cans inside the home, did not turn off the television or the music playing on the stereo, did not try to open a Jeep whose passenger door was slightly ajar, and did not check Ms. Simpson’s blood-spattered dog for evidence.

Riske spent all morning answering questions. Then his boss, Sgt. David Rossi, a 25-year member of the force at the time of the slayings, took the stand and became the second officer to testify that a single bloody glove was found at the crime scene before Detective Mark Furhman arrived.

The defense has suggested Fuhrman planted the matching glove at Simpson’s house.

During Riske’s testimony, the officer said he used a phone in Ms. Simpson’s house to call his supervisors, unaware he might be obscuring fingerprints on the phone.

He said he used the phone rather than a walkie-talkie because he knew reporters listen to police communications on scanners.

``I didn’t want to broadcast ... that there was a possible double homicide involving a celebrity,″ Riske said. ``The media would beat my backup there.″

Cochran used blowup pictures of the bloody crime scene to try to plant doubt in the jurors’ minds.

He noted that in one picture, a red tennis shoe is seen near a glove. It has been identified repeatedly as Goldman’s shoe. But in a picture of Goldman’s crumpled body, he is wearing white tennis shoes and the glove is farther from his body.

Under Clark’s questioning, Riske said the sneaker’s color might have been altered by blood and dirt.

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