In Quiet of a Courtroom, Grisly Memorial to Simpson-Goldman Murders
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ In the calm of Department 105, on the first anniversary of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, stood a ghastly memorial _ 58 photographs showing the work of a killer.
It was the moment appointed by Superior Court Judge Lance Ito for reporters to see the photos that have so revolted jurors in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial that one panelist had to rush from the courtroom. A coroner’s narration of the images left Goldman’s family in tears last week.
Of all the color autopsy and crime-scene pictures displayed Monday, the most disturbing was the close-up of Ms. Simpson’s head: her eyes half-open, her lips parted enough to reveal her top four front teeth, and a gash so wide it appeared one-third of her neck had been sliced away. The crimson wound exposed tendons and her spine.
Another picture showed Ms. Simpson’s body lying flat on her back on a gray metal coroner’s table. Mannequin-like, her right arm lay stiffly at her side, the palm facing up toward the ceiling, her fingers curled slightly. Her black dress was pulled up over her thighs, exposing her black bikini panties. Her face and blond hair were dark with blood.
Similar photos of Goldman included one of his body, fully clothed, on a coroner’s gurney. The left leg of his blue jeans was soaked in blood. The hem of his white shirt was pushed up to the middle of his chest. His bruised hands, the knuckles cut and swollen, lay clasped in his lap.
The picture of his neck wound showed a dark gaping hole, along with smaller puncture marks and two parallel, superficial knife slashes across his throat.
Overall, the photos showed a large number of punctures and bruises, particularly to the victims’ heads. Portions of their hair were shaved away to reveal the gashes and dark-red bruises.
The photos were mounted on eight blue boards with such unwieldy titles as ``Sharp Force Injuries To Left Flank, Left Thigh and Right Chest of Mr. Goldman; Blunt Force Trauma and Lividity.″ The pictures were identified by evidence numbers. Some had captions identifying particular body parts, but most went without explanation.
Next to Ito sat Ken Lynch, a deputy district attorney who has been helping coordinate display of the exhibits to the jury. Next to him was prosecutor Brian Kelberg, who has been questioning Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, the county coroner. Simpson and his attorneys didn’t attend.
Reporters, who hired an attorney to argue their right to see the pictures, viewed the photos in two groups of 24 in a courtroom down the hall from Ito’s court. The eight boards sat on easels between the counsel tables and the judge’s bench. Reporters were allowed to walk within a few feet of the boards, getting about as close as jurors do.
Many reporters were grim-faced as they took notes; some occasionally whispered to each other.
After 25 minutes, a sheriff’s deputy said, ``Time,″ and the viewing was complete. Nearly all the reporters stayed for the allotted time, but a couple of reporters in the first viewing session turned from the photos and found seats in the courtroom before their time was up.
The tone of the viewing was solemn. At one point, however, a columnist’s beeper went off in the quiet court, prompting nervous laughter from the reporters. The judge, seated a few feet away, smiled but didn’t take it away, as he does in his own court.