SIMPSON'S BACK WALKWAY
[This is the second in a series of four articles describing the Simpson interview tape and the conclusions that can be drawn from it. The previous article, "The Simpson Interview" contained Figures 1 thru 6, and the figure numbers continue that series, beginning at 7 here.]
GENERAL LAYOUT: To take last things first, Figure 7 [BACKWALK.JPG] summarizes our understanding of the layout of the Simpson's back walkway after reviewing the interview tape and other sources. In the tape, Simpson takes the viewer on a tour, beginning at the Rockingham gate, and going back to the south side of the garage where the back walk begins. Thereupon, he gives a running narration as he progresses all the way along that walk to Kato's air conditioner. Mostly, the things he has to say are not too illuminating, but the images of the places he goes are very insightful.
We began our construction of Figure 7 with the prosecution exhibit of the area (Goldberg, p. 130+8) and revised according to the scenes from the video tape. There were some differences. For example, Simpson makes an issue of a side door to the garage through which he could have entered his house (if he had the house key with him), and this door is not shown on the prosecution exhibit -- even though it was apparently the subject of some discussion by the prosecutors. So, we added the garage side door in a place as accurately as we could, according to what we saw on the video.
Figure 7 only shows that part of Simpson's property from the front of the garage to the back of Arnelle's rooms, and within about 20 feet of the south property line. Therefore, most of the house and all of the yards are not shown. Also shown is the Salingers' property to the south of Simpson's, and likewise only the northernmost 20 feet or so is shown of that. (The Salingers' house projects off the page to the left in this rendition.) A complete layout of Simpson's property will be shown in a later article, together with more of the Salingers' place.
THE GARAGE SIDE DOOR: At the beginning of this segment, Simpson passes the south-west corner of the garage (to the right side of the garage in Figure 6) and ducks around the trunk of a tree just at the corner. He goes a little distance -- six or eight feet it looks to be -- and then begins to descend to a lower level just as he passes another tree trunk on his left, against the garage wall. He appears to go down two steps, and then pauses to lecture about the side garage door with the videographer still on the original level, looking down at him. In Figure 8 [S_WALK04.JPG] he points out the side door (in Figure 3, he is shown opening that door). He makes a point of the fact that the door opens outward, and so he asserts that he would be able to enter his house without being seen if he had used that door. (He admits that there was a 3-foot high chest blocking the door, but says that he would have been able to overcome that if he had needed to.) The possible flaw in his argument is that it assumes that he had with him his house key to unlock that door; if he didn't have the key, it doesn't matter which way the door opens.
HEIGHT OF HEDGES AND FENCE: Simpson continues down the west part of the walkway from the garage side door in Figure 9 [S_WALK07.JPG], and at this place we get a long view of the height of the hedges. Notice that just where Simpson is at this point the hedge beside him is a foot or two above his head (i.e., the hedge is about 8 feet high in the vicinity of the garage). By the time Simpson gets down to the utility area the hedge is about 7 feet high. But notice in Figure 9 that at some point down around the bungalows the hedge suddenly erupts into a height that is above the rooftops -- 20 feet, I would judge. The point at which this transition from 7 feet to 20 feet high occurs appears to coincide with the beginning of the Salinger's carport, which is about 8 feet farther than the far end of the utility area, and still about 42 feet short of Kato's air conditioner.
The fence in Figure 8 appears to be at least as high as Simpson himself (after he descends the steps) and so we would judge it to be 6 feet high at the west end. As will be seen in later frames, however, down in the vicinity of Kato's wall the fence is distinctly lower than Simpson's height -- 4-1/2 to 5 feet, I should say. Generally, the fence is too obscured with vegetation in the west end of the walk to make a good evaluation of the fence height.
THE LAUNDRY ROOM DOOR: After Simpson passes the end of the garage, he comes to a wider "utility area" in the walkway. In this 30-foot long region, the south house wall is set back from the fence by an amount that varies from about 10 to 22 feet. (For the sake of indicating continuity of the building, Figure 7 is inaccurate in showing the detail of the south house wall at the utility area. This is accurately depicted in later articles of this series.) It is the place of central air conditioning equipment, electrical panels, and storage closets for yard tools. There is also stashed various construction materials: bricks, chain link fence panels, etc.; it is a messy place. Simpson pauses here in Figure 10 [S_WALK10.JPG] to point out the door to "his wash room." According to our reconstruction, the other side of this door is a short (12-foot) hallway leading to the kitchen. On the left side of this hall is the laundry room, and on the right is the maid's room. Simpson makes the same argument about going into the house unseen through this door that he made concerning the garage side door, but he would need his key to get in this door, too.
We also see that one goes up four steps from the south walkway in the utility area to get to the level of the house.
THE NARROW EAST PART OF THE WALKWAY: In Figure 11 [S_WALK15.JPG] Simpson has left the utility area and has finally started down the east part of the walkway behind the bungalows. The passage seems to be narrower here than up near the garage, where the width of the walk appears to conform to the City of LA building standard side setback of five feet. In Figure 11 Simpson is standing sideways, and we can see the length of his much discussed size 12 shoe on his foot. My size 12 shoe on my foot is exactly 12 inches long. The walkway width appears to be 2-1/2 shoe lengths, or 30 inches. There is an additional 6" or so beyond the concrete walkway to the fence. So, I would judge that the distance from the building wall to the fence through here is only about 3 feet.
In my part of Los Angeles, a side setback of less than five feet would be illegal, but in the Brentwood part of LA, rich guys and their attorneys can apply for a "zoning variance," and do almost anything they want. Interestingly, though, there is a stretch in that west end of the walkway that is wider -- the office wall is set back from the general south wall by a foot or eighteen inches, and the niche piled with more outdoor stuff. I am inclined to think that originally the house and a detached office had a standard (5') setback, and later the pool/trophy room and the bungalows were added with the three foot setback. Whatever, it's damned narrow back there.
AS HIGH AS AN ELEPHANT'S EYE: When Simpson finally gets back to Kato's air conditioner (which is as far as he goes on this tour) he has the cameraman point up to show that the tops of the hedge reach beyond the roof top (Figure 12 [S_WALK18.JPG]).
POUNDING ON A WALL: I was fascinated to see that Simpson illustrates exactly what I think he did on that Sunday night -- he pounds on the outside of Kato's wall. This comes about because he is complaining that Marcia Clark had characterized the "three thumps" that Kato heard as being Simpson crashing into Kato's air conditioner in his flight down the back walk to get to the back yard undetected. He says that Kato never testified that he had heard a noise from his air conditioner; he heard thumps on his wall. "Like a signal," Simpson says. (He should know. <G>) Then he sets about to demonstrate how a man (himself in particular) might deliver blows to cause such a "signal" on the wall, Figure 13 [S-WALK21.JPG]. Insofar as it is Simpson's purpose to show a cause of the thumps that Kato reported, apparently HE does not think that the wall is "too solid" to convey the sound and vibration of a fist blow into Kato's room.
In doing this, Simpson unwittingly shows us his own pounding inclination -- different than my own. I would have raised my right hand above my right shoulder, and pounded at a spot in line with my right shoulder a few inches above my head. Simpson doesn't pound that way. He holds his fist in front of his face and thrusts it forward (a somewhat sissy way to do it, it seems to me).
We can also see in Figure 13 that Simpson has picked a place to do this relative to the air conditioner that puts the blows maybe five feet west of that machine. Then also notice that in that position, there is a fence post about 6 inches west of Simpson's left elbow.
Another observation can be made from Figure 13: the abundant vines growing through the eugenia hedge. Apparently that back walk had been cleaned up for the video (see later below) and even with the cleanup we can see numerous and thick vines running east and west, as well as up and down through the eugenia trees. As it happens, Rose and I have just this week been cleaning out lantana vines that run through privet hedges on the west side of the back yard. I can tell you from first hand experience that the combination of hedge trees and vines is impenetrable without tools and a good deal of effort. (Our hedge was not as tall or dense as Simpson's, and the lantana is fragile by comparison with those formidable sized and numbered vines in his hedge. Furthermore, even the relatively careful work of daytime pruning -- much less an effort to crash through at night -- left numerous cuts, scratches and bleeding wounds on my hands and arms. Such was not seen on Simpson the day after he came home from his Bundy trip.)
Consider, also, the situation that is confronted by the hypothetical Simpson bent on getting over the fence from the Salingers' side. No matter whether he comes down the walk beside Rosa Lopez' window or up the Salingers' driveway, by the time he gets to the back end of their house he is at a point opposite his utility area, and he can see (if he was not already familiar with the fact) that the hedge is only about 7 feet high in that place. But, if he goes a few feet farther, to the Salingers' carport, the hedge is suddenly 20' high, and relatively untended and wild. From the position at the back of the Salingers' house, it would be an irrational and senseless choice for Simpson to go farther -- to negotiate the uncertainties of the carport AND confront a much taller and unruly hedge than was there at hand.
The idea that Simpson could have (much less would have) come through that hedge of trees and vines from the Salingers' back yard is completely incredible to anyone who has confronted such a hedge.
RELATIVE POSITION OF THE GLOVE: Figure 14 [R_GLOVE.JPG] is the picture from Goldberg (p. 242+4G) showing the right hand crime glove in the position in which it was found. Notice that it is about 6 inches to the west of a fence post and about a foot from the edge of the walk (see next figure for more panorama, where it will be seen that this is the same fence post -- the last one before the air conditioner -- beside which Simpson was standing in Figure 13). Combining the observations of Figures 13 and 14, we see that the glove was found about 1-1/2 feet to the left of where Simpson demonstrates his hand was during pounding, and in about the middle of the walk.
Holding an object, I flung my hand in the same way as Simpson shows in Figure 13, and then lett loose during the back stroke. The object flew past my left shoulder in such a way that if there had been a fence behind me it would have bounced off it and landed about 1-1/2 feet to the left of my hand. I consider that this is an indication (less than proof) that Simpson could have lost the glove while he was pounding on Kato's wall, and perhaps thought that it had flown into the Salingers' yard. Certainly the position of the glove is consistent with such an origin of its path.
MESSY, MESSY, MESSY: We have previously seen (Figure 5) the back walk as it was cleaned up for the production of the video. To give an idea of how messy it was back there behind Kato's wall on Monday morning when the glove was found (and the previous Sunday night, when it was lost) I offer the black/white picture of the place from Henry Lee's book (p. 242+1B) as Figure 15 [HLEEBACK.JPG]. The ground is littered with leaves and other plant debris, and in the midst of that the evidence glove can be made out, about a third of the way from right edge of the walk, and near a fence post. Notice that this is the last fence post before the diagonal brace for the air conditioner.
(A color photo of the same scene, but from a little farther back on the walk, is shown in Figure 16 [EXHIB_9B.JPG], the prosecution exhibit #9B in the preliminary hearing. It shows a better panorama than Figure 15, but the evidence glove is not distinct. Notice that from this position, at least two fence posts before the air conditioner are visible.)
Notice that the rangy vines growing through the hedge are untended and sweep down onto and across the walk; one of them is even creeping up Simpson's outside wall. It must have been a harrowing experience for anybody to go down that walk at night, in pitch darkness. It is little wonder to me that if Simpson lost the glove back there in the dark, he would consider that it was hopelessly gone, and would not try much to find it. Furthermore, from the vine covered entrapments on the walk in that area, there certainly was no "running" by Simpson or anybody else, as Marcia Clark asserted. A running person would have been flat on his face before he got this far. (Did Clark not bother to look at the crime scene photos before she concocted her "crashing into the air conditioner" idea? Or was it just that she figured the jury had not seen that picture, and so would not know any better?)
KATO'S BATHROOM WINDOW: Figures 17 [BEYOND2.JPG] and 18 [KATOWNDW.JPG] are both from a "Good Morning America" program that Marla recorded and gave to me. In that program, Westside realtor Fred Sands was giving a tour of the estate which he had as a listing, and he showed a number of scenes that we will be presenting later. Here, in Figure 17 the GMA reporter has ducked below Kato's air conditioner and is continuing east toward the "third gate" at the end of Arnelle's room. I have added arrows to indicate Kato's bathroom window ("K") and a window ("A") at Arnelle's room. In figure 18 we have an interior shot inside Kato's room and we are looking past the talking heads to Kato's bathroom. Here we can see his window from the inside with enough detail that we can judge roughly how far beyond the air conditioner the window is -- I estimate it to be ten feet from the middle of the window to the middle of the air conditioner.
Considering the geometry of the window, the air conditioner, and the place where the glove was found, I think it is very unlikely that Kato could have (as Junot asserts) thrown the glove from his bathroom window in such a way as to have it fall where it did. Certainly this could not possibly be done by only reaching his arm out the window, but would require that he get the whole top part of his body through the window. In that event, I would expect that the screen would come off the window in such a way that it could not be re-installed without going to the outside of the same window (such would be the result on any of my windows/screens). Also, I notice that the same issue of total darkness (in the target area) confronts Kato in this theory as Simpson would have experienced, and I doubt that the seeing conditions would have been good enough to get the glove reliably over the air conditioner on the first try (there could not be a second try). Furthermore, because of the darkness, it would have been a shot in the dark; having tossed the glove, Kato would not know whether it had landed on top of the air conditioner, bounced back off it, gone over it, or landed in the hedge where it might not be found.
Finally, if Kato tossed the glove from his window and it did not get over his air conditioner, it could land in a place where spider webs and cob webs showed that no one had passed. In that event, it would be immediately known that the glove came from Kato's window, and the glove's presence there would powerfully incriminate Kato. Considering the stakes (and the difficult and uncertain conditions of tossing the glove) a plan as Junot hypothesizes would have been downright foolhardy for Kato to try.
CONCLUSION: I consider that these visual images have been useful to...
1) Better illustrate the reality in Simpson's back walk, particularly in the vicinity where the crime glove was found.
2) Provide some detail about the doors and windows on the back of the house.
3) Further debunk the already silly idea that Simpson entered his property over the Salingers' fence.
4) Show the implausibility of Marcia Clark's off-hand idea that Simpson crashed into the air conditioner as he was "running" down the vine strewn pathway in the dark.
5) Create great doubt that Kato could have (or would have tried to) thrown the evidence glove from his bathroom window over the air conditioner to the walk beyond.
Dick Wagner ( Van Nuys, CA (12/10/02) backwalk.txt