PETROCELLI'S GOOFY IDEA (Part 2)
Here we further consider Petrocelli's goofy idea that when Simpson returned from Bundy he re-entered his property by going around through his neighbor's yard (the Salingers'), going into their back yard, clawing through the hedge of trees and vines there, getting over the chain link fence, and crashing into Kato's wall. According to Petrocelli's idea, Simpson did this even though he could have got through the gate by simply pushing on it if it were left in the customary mode of that time (unlocked). If witness Lopez is believed that just before Simpson went to Bundy the Bronco was at the Rockingham gate, then Simpson's last previous traverse of the gate would have been in the manual mode which left it unlocked.
LATER DISCUSSION: Subsequent to the original publication of this article, the subject of Simpson's possible entry over the Salingers' fence was discussed on the newsgroup, and several additional points were raised, among them the crushed fence prongs in the vicinity of where the glove was found and the significance of the blue packaging material on the other side of the fence. These discussions caused us to go back and review all of the sources of information available to us about the relative location of the objects in Figure 6 [KATO'SRM.JPG] , and to refine that map. The present version has been revised to show that further study, and some aspects have been fussed over to get things right to the closest inch. In particular, the Simpson interview tape was reviewed many times, until all of the aspects it showed conformed to the map.
BENT FENCE PRONGS: In a related article, "Simpson's Back Walk" (which see), we presented Figure 13 which shows Simpson pounding on the wall of Kato's room. Bob August noticed that the prongs of the chain link wires at the top were bent in that vicinity, and seized on this as proof positive that it was the place where Simpson stepped when he went over the fence from the Salingers' yard; he called it his "smoking gun." August came late to this "discovery"; I recognized the bent prongs when I first saw the picture, and Petrocelli mentions them when he tries -- during Vannatter's testimony -- unsuccessfully to introduce Gary Randa's videotape of that area, showing the situation on June 18, 1994. Petrocelli claims that the video shows the "top of the fence posts [sic] are bent down," and also mentions "this opening in the foliage right next to the air conditioner." Although Petrocelli could not authenticate the tape to the satisfaction of the civil court, we take as accurate his claim that this was the condition of the back walk six days after the murder.
Trouble is, a lot had happened in those six days. Detectives, criminologists, and photographers had trooped back there. After the cops left, defense investigators came, and at some point paid great attention to the area, trying -- among other things -- to recreate an event that would dislodge Kato's painting. So, it is far from a flight of fancy to think that one of those many people might have climbed on the fence and thereby bent the prongs. Furthermore, the fence was probably built before the house itself was built, and certainly before the bungalows in back were built, and hence would be more than 30 years old. Even though it was a seldom visited place recently before the crime, it was simply a fence beside a yard before the bungalows were built, and would not have been so inaccessible for climbing. Then, during construction of the bungalows, there could have been a need that caused a workman to climb on the fence. With so many possibilities, it is foolish to think that Simpson climbing over the fence from the Salingers' yard is the only possible cause for the bent prongs on the top of the fence.
The significance of the bent prongs is also deflected by a couple of factors. First, the prongs are near the location of the right hand glove, not the location where Kato heard the three thumps. The impact on the wall was about three feet to the east of where the glove was found, so presumably, if Simpson's foot had been stepping on the fence at the place of the prongs he would have fallen to a place on the wall behind Kato's head, not a place -- as Kato described -- halfway between him and the air conditioner.
Second, the Salingers' carport blocks access to the fence at the place of the bent prongs -- as Petrocelli himself alluded in a couple of the depositions. It was because of this that Petrocelli suggested the possibility that Simpson had got up on the roof of the carport (somehow) and jumped down into the abyss between the hedge and Kato's wall, thereby crashing into the wall. The problem is... If Simpson jumped from the roof of the carport against the bungalow wall, then he did not step on the top of the fence. Any scenario that tries to relate the bent prongs to Simpson's crossing the fence is a mess.
THE "BLUE PACKAGE": For reasons I don't understand, there was newsgroup interest during this discussion in the "blue package," which was an empty container on the other side of the chain link fence near the evidence glove. The blue plastic material was recovered (by Fuhrman, working from the Salingers' side of the fence) and booked into evidence as item #10. No significance to this item has ever been widely accepted, though conspiracy buffs have proposed that someone planted the glove and brought it to the site in this package. We show defense exhibit #1025 here as Figure 7 [BLUEPAPR.JPG]. It is a photograph looking straight down at the situation and shows both the glove and the blue package in the positions in which they were discovered.
Interestingly, neither the photographer's feet nor a ladder are visible in this picture which shows a fairly wide angle. One wonders how the photographer (LAPD's Rokhar) supported himself to take the picture. The only source of support visible in the picture is the fence post, and if the photographer stood directly above these objects his foot would be right at the place of the bent prongs. This suggests a rather benign cause of the fence's condition, and does not require that Simpson make some physically impossible maneuver.
THE REVISED MAP: As a result of the newsgroup discussion we have looked for further indications of the detailed relationship between objects of discussion, and revised the map of Figure 6 to reflect that. For example, in Figure 8 [S_WALK19.JPG] from the interview video, we are able to determine that there are three trunks of eugenia trees in the 8 foot space of the fence panel west of the critical fence post. This leads us to the conclusion that those trees were planted about three feet apart, not six inches apart, as would be inferred from Jason's deposition. It is possible that Jason was confused between the spacing of "trees" and "branches," the latter of which are about six inches apart. The map of Figure 6 reflects a spacing of about 3 feet, and in the locations shown by Figure 8.
Also, Figure 9 [S_WALK23.JPG] highlights a feature seen on some of the other captures, but shows best here. Notice the bright diagonal line, at about a 45 degree angle, falling across the walk at Simpson's feet and hitting the back wall of the bungalow about opposite the critical fence post. This demarks the west wall of the Salingers' carport. We know this significance because we see that on the floor of the back walk there is dappled sunlight falling though the hedge to the west of this line, but to the east the walk is uniformly dark for about twenty feet because it is in the shadow of the carport, as well as the hedge. On the presumption that the north wall of the carport is as far (3 feet) from the chain link fence as the back wall of the bungalow is, the position of the carport can be exactly set, and has moved slightly from the position previously shown in Figure 6 where it was determined solely by aerial photographs. (It is also seen, that even in this shadowed area, the back wall of the bungalow is dappled with sunlight coming through the hedge above a height of about four feet. This is due to sunlight coming over the roof of the carport.)
THE UNIVERSAL OPINION OF THOSE WHO WERE THERE: I have already mentioned that in their depositions, Simpson and his son Jason -- both of whom actually were familiar with the back walk, the fence, and the hedge -- gave the opinion that a person could not get easily over the Salingers' fence, and gave persuasive reasons for that opinion. From the transcript, we see that opinions on this subject were asked of others who saw the actual situation. We give a few below...
Det. FUHRMAN, March 14, 1995, testified in the criminal trial and commented on how inaccessible the fence was through the foliage on the Salingers' side:
Bailey inquires whether Fuhrman went down the Salingers' side of the fence/hedge...
Q YOU DID WALK DOWN TO THE LITTLE GARAGE THAT IS THE HOME KNOW KNOWN TO BE OCCUPIED BY MISS LOPEZ?
Q OKAY. HOW FAR DOWN DID YOU GO?
A I WENT DOWN ALONG THE CHAINLINK FENCE, ALONG THE WHOLE SOUTH BORDER OF THE SIMPSON RESIDENCE AND THAT RESIDENCE TO THEIR NORTH BORDER, WHICH WOULD BE THE SAME PROPERTY LINE. I WALKED TO THE BACKYARD. I DIDN'T SEE ANYTHING OR ANY EXPOSED AREAS. AND I WALKED BACK TOWARDS THE CYCLONE FENCE BY THE BUILDING.
Bailey tried to suggest that Fuhrman should have led the detectives to see the glove by bringing them through the Salinger's yard, rather than down Simpson's back walk where evidence might be disturbed by the passage of several detectives. What he elicits is that it is very hard to approach the fence because of the hedge from the Salingers' side:
Q DID YOU NOTICE THAT WHEN YOU SAW THE GLOVE THERE WAS AN OBJECT EQUIDISTANT FROM THE FENCE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE THAT WAS VERY PLAINLY VISIBLE THROUGH IT?
Q SO THAT PRESUMABLY IF YOU HAD CHOSEN TO DO IT YOU COULD HAVE HAD THE DETECTIVE LOOK THROUGH THE FENCE AND HAD THE SAME VANTAGE POINTS WITH RESPECT TO THE GLOVE, COULDN'T YOU?
Q COULD NOT?
Q WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
A IT WAS VERY OVERGROWN, VERY DIRTY. THE LEAVES WERE VERY THICK IN THE FLOWER BED AREA ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE. IT WAS VERY HARD TO EVEN GET IN THERE. I PERSONALLY TRIED TO GET INTO THAT AREA AND IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT, VERY DIRTY.
Det. VANNATTER, March 21, 1995, in the criminal trial, expressing his opinion to Darden. I disagree about the glove dropper having a key to the Rockingham gate. If it was Simpson (as I believe, and apparently Vannatter also believes) then he could not have had the Rockingham key, or he would have surreptitiously entered his house by unlocking the laundry room door. (One key fit all locks.)...
Q BY MR. DARDEN: DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION AS TO HOW THE PERSON WHO DROPPED THE GLOVE AT ROCKINGHAM ENTERED THE PROPERTY?
THE WITNESS: YES.
Q BY MR. DARDEN: HOW?
A I BELIEVE THEY -- I BELIEVE HE USED A KEY TO COME THROUGH THE ROCKINGHAM GATE AFTER PARKING THE VEHICLE IN THE STREET THERE, JUST NORTH OF THE GATE, WALKED DOWN TO THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE HOUSE.
Q WHICH GATE ARE YOU REFERRING TO?
A THE ROCKINGHAM GATE.
Detective VANNATTER, was a civil trial witness on December 9, 1996. He said that he had seen the situation on the morning of June 13th and he did not believe anybody had come over the fence. He also described the fence/hedge as being very overgrown and dense...
Q. And you obviously, because you had looked at a glove at 875 South Bundy between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning, looked to see whether or not the shrubbery had been broken over on the south side of the fence, whether there were any branches that were down indicating somebody had recently come through this heavily wooded or hedged area, did you not?
A. At the Rockingham location?
A. There didn't appear to be any evidence, that I saw, of anyone that had come through the heavy foliage there.
Vanatter again 12/09
Q. (BY MR. BAKER) You concluded as a detective of 23 years'
experience, based upon your own observations, your discussions with
Ron Phillips, all the information that you had, that absolutely no one
had come over the Cyclone fencing through the Eugenia hedge because
there was absolutely no evidence of that, correct, sir?
A. I didn't see any evidence of that. However, I don't know how it was
put there. I don't know whether someone came over the fence or walked
back there. That's -- I don't know that.
But I didn't see any evidence of anybody coming over the fence.
Q. (BY MR. BAKER) You say, you don't know how it was put there. Let's
go back just a moment, for a second.
Those hedges are so thick on the south side of the property, your
observations were at the time -- in the multiple times that you were
on the south side of Mr. Simpson's property on June 13 and thereafter,
that if somebody had come through those hedges, there would have to be
evidence of it, correct?
A. Other -- I answered this a number of times. I don't believe anybody
came over the fence. I didn't see any evidence of anybody coming over
On November 4, in the criminal trial criminalist FUNG, who had visited the place on Monday, June 13th, makes a rather categorical statement that he did not see any indication that someone had come over the fence...
Q. Did you find any evidence whatsoever indicating that anyone climbed
over the fence from the air conditioner to the front gate?
Detective RON PHILLIPS had also been invited by Fuhrman to go to the back walk and see the evidence glove on the morning of June 13th. During the criminal trial, on October 29th, he says that he did not see any indication that anybody had gone over the fence the night before, and describes the hedge as being extremely dense...
Q. Did you see any signs of any disturbance along the bushes that are along the fence that's on the right hand side of that path as you walk down?
Q. Any identification at all along that. Someone had come over the fence, in your opinion?
A. I observed nothing.
Q. Nothing out of ordinary in those bushes?
Q. Those are extremely thick bushes, aren't they, sir?
A. There was a lot of overhang and a lot of foliage, extreme thick bushes. It was a lot of foliage and a lot of -- they were all hanging over which was blocking out the light and there was a lot of them, yeah.
So in addition to Simpson and Jason, who expressed doubt that the fence could be climbed over, because of the foliage of the hedge, several LAPD personnel who had actually seen the situation on the morning of June 13th expressed the opinion that nobody had come over that fence and through the hedge the night before. The list of such people includes Dets. Vannatter, Fuhrman, and Phillips, and criminalist Fung. We were unable to find a contrary opinion expressed by any person who had actually seen the circumstances on Simpson's south walk on June 13th, 1994.
CONCLUSION: The idea that Simpson got back onto his property by coming over the fence from the Salingers' property is contrary to many pieces of evidence...
* There was no need to take this complicated route when it was possible to simply push through the gate and walk in, if the gate had been left in the manual mode. Simpson testified that before the media circus after the crimes, he usually did leave his gates unlocked, and the circumstances of his leaving, as indicated by the testimony of Lopez, was that the Bronco was parked at the Rockingham gate when he left to go to Bundy. Also, whatever was his frame of mind to leave his house with the front door unlocked, the same factor could be expected to cause him to leave with the gate unlocked.
* There existed a simple direct path of blood drops from the back of the Bronco, through the Rockingham gate, down the driveway, and into Simpson's front door. Although we believe this was an interrupted path, there is absolutely no blood or trace indication that Simpson was on the street of Rockingham south of his property, or on the driveways or other paved surfaces at the Salingers' property. The objection that the blood drops in the vicinity of the gate were in the middle of the driveway is answered by photographs that show the view of the porch from the area of that gate. If Simpson had wanted to see whether the limo was at the front porch, he would have moved south in the driveway to get a view that was not obstructed by a coral tree and bushes, and that would have put him at the position of the drops. The explanation that Simpson "spontaneously stopped bleeding" at the last blood drop outside the gate and then "spontaneously started bleeding" when he got back to the inside of the gate is absurd. If he had really jumped over the fence and crashed against Kato's wall, the trauma of the impact on the wall would have caused that fragile healing wound to begin bleeding again.
* Bob August has withdrawn his previous claim that it was physically impossible for the Rockingham gate to have been unlocked on Simpson's return (and the companion claim that powered operation of the gate would have been heard by Park at the Ashford gate), and says now that he only thinks that "it would not make sense" for Simpson to behave in a manner that would leave the gate unlocked. August's logic of "what makes sense" is not terribly persuasive to other people, and I consider that the question of the physical possibility of the gate being unlocked, and silent and easy to get through, has been settled without my further explanation.
* The only indication of the actual event of the sound against Kato's wall was Kato's testimony. In every appearance before the civil trial he described these as "three thumps" and illustrated by pounding on the railing of the witness stand. Only after Petrocelli had coached Kato in a couple of days of interviews (Petrocelli, p. 451) before the civil trial did Kato change his tune, claim he had really heard a body crashing against his wall, and give a convoluted explanation of why he had said otherwise for so long before.
* Although the chain link fence between the properties is not more than a man of Simpson's physique could overcome, it is bounded on the Salingers' side by a hedge of eugenia trees and thick vines that make it virtually impenetrable. Photographs of the area on Monday morning show this in an overgrown and wild condition, and video on Simpson's interview tape show it after it was scalped and cut back to show the interior of the hedge. In both conditions the hedge is so dense as to defy penetration without tools, and would certainly scratch the face and hands of anyone who attempted it. (No such injuries were seen on Simpson.)
* Penetration of the hedge would certainly break off numerous leaves, twigs and small branches and push them onto Simpson's south pathway at the location of the breach as an accumulation of fresh plant debris. No such indication was seen, as the detectives testified.
* The location of the three thumps was about 7-1/2 feet beyond the west side of the Salinger's carport, and blocked by that building. The area is so inaccessible that Fuhrman had difficulty to reach the blue package that was located there to hand it to Fung. The space between the fence and the carport is narrow and filled with the hedge, which in that vicinity is untended. So, Simpson could not have got to the hedge (much less the fence) at the location of the three thumps.
* All of those people -- on both sides of the prosecution of Simpson -- who actually saw the situation of the back walk themselves and commented, say that they do not believe that Simpson did (or could have) come over the Salingers' fence at the location of the three thumps. These include Simpson himself and his son Jason, detectives Vannatter, Fuhrman, and Phillips, and criminalist Fung.
The proposition that Simpson went over the Salingers' fence is ridiculous for MANY reasons, and is contrary to every indication of evidence.
(Simpson did not go over the Salingers' fence, but got back home by pushing through his gate.)
Dick Wagner ( Van Nuys, CA (1/27/03) GOOFY2.TXT