Defense Plots, Prosecutors Gloat in Day Off at Simpson Trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ O.J. Simpson’s lawyers expect to wrap up their high-speed defense case by the first week of August, the lead lawyer said in a court transcript released Friday.
``I’m going to finish in another week and a half,″ Johnnie Cochran Jr. told the judge in a private sidebar Thursday, giving his earliest estimate of the end of the defense case.
The defense has called 30 witnesses in nine days. The prosecution case, by contrast, lasted about five months.
The short time frame suggests Cochran might not call Simpson to testify since the prosecution’s cross-examination of him could last a week or more. Simpson’s lawyers have yet to call their major scientific witnesses and others to back up defense theories.
So far, defense witnesses have given Simpson more grief than relief.
Simpson’s attorneys spent the day off in meetings to plot their next moves, said defense sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The lawyers were preparing for what could be another rough stretch next week when two scientific witnesses are scheduled to take the stand.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, took advantage of the day off to gloat over recent successes.
``It’s been a good week,″ District Attorney Gil Garcetti said at a news conference. ``We hope there will be more defense witnesses.″
Prosecutor Marcia Clark’s complaints that she didn’t have time to prepare for Monday’s first scheduled witness, blood preservative expert Fredric Rieders, prompted the judge to cancel Friday’s session.
Prosecution sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggest Rieders will do the defense more harm than good under cross-examination. The sources say the next witness, blood splatter expert Herbert MacDonell, will also be weak in light of the judge’s ruling this week that greatly restricted his testimony about blood on socks found in Simpson’s bedroom.
The socks are a key to the defense theory that police framed Simpson for the murders of his ex-wife and her friend.
Meanwhile, defense sources denied reports that a female attorney conducted a practice cross-examination session with Simpson to prepare him for a possible clash with Clark.
The sources said that while the subject of preparing Simpson has been seriously considered, especially in recent days as defense witnesses hit the skids, no actual session has taken place and now probably won’t.
Cochran and defense attorney Robert Shapiro didn’t return phone calls for comment.
Simpson, 48, has pleaded innocent to the June 12, 1994, knife slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, who died outside Ms. Simpson’s Brentwood condominium.
Simpson has suggested he was the victim of a police frame-up for murders committed by drug hitmen. The conspiracy and drug-hit theories took a beating in recent days with adverse rulings by Superior Court Judge Lance Ito that limited or barred testimony to support the scenarios.
The defense also has hurt itself by calling a number of witnesses, including police officers, who have given testimony favorable to the prosecution.
Rieders, founder of National Medical Services laboratory in Willow Grove, Pa., is intended to support the defense contention that blood was planted by police. He is expected to say that a substance used to preserve police crime lab blood samples was found in some blood evidence. Its presence, the defense contends, bolsters the theory that police sprinkled the crime lab blood on evidence in an attempt to frame Simpson.
Rieders also is expected to testify that he found flaws in the way prosecution scientists analyzed the level of the preservative by greatly underestimating those amounts.
But prosecution sources said they expect to attack Rieders’ own analysis as sloppy and inconsistent.