HEEL PRINT ON SECOND STEP

PRIEN:

    A couple of weeks ago you brought into AFOJS an issue that has been discussed in another Simpson case forum. William Dear's otherwise doubtful book, "O.J. is Guilty, But Not of Murder" does contain some previously unseen photographs, and one of these is of the second step. [Figure 1, "DEAR_02.JPG,dear_02c.jpg (45763 bytes) as I have annotated it.] On that, there appears to be a heel print of the Bruno Magli shoe, but in the middle of the step, so close to the third riser that there is no room for the rest of the shoe. This caused pro-Js to claim that it was another indication that the Bruno Magli trail was "planted evidence." (The immediate problem with this concept is that if there is not enough room for the shoe when Simpson's foot is in it, neither is there enough room when the evidence planter is doing his evil work. Only a theory that the evidence planter was working with one part of a shoe sawed in half between the heel and the sole would satisfy the "planting" hypothesis. Nonetheless...) When you mentioned this I said that I would try to get hold of the book, look at the picture, and give you my opinion. (I would not have got the book for its thesis - Jason did it - but because of the new photographs.) I have had a chance to see the photo, and analyze it, and this article is my opinion of the matter.

   THE SHOE: I was aided in the analysis by an imprint of the shoe from a prosecution exhibit shown in Bodziak's book (Wm. Bodziak, "Footwear Impression Evidence," 2nd Ed., 2000) as his Figure 15.2. I show the relevant portion of that here, with an outline added in red as Figure 2 [BODZ_02A.JPG].bodz02a.jpg (41267 bytes) In the arbitrary units of a printout of this picture, I see that the heel is 1.3 units long and 1.15 units wide, giving a length/width ratio of 1.13. Similarly I see that the sole is 2.5 units long and 1.5 units wide, giving a length/width ratio of 1.67. I also notice that the front end of the heel is curved, and the back end of the sole is straight.

   THE IMPRINT: In Figure 3 [DEAR_02A]blowup_2.jpg (118885 bytes) I show a blowup of the footprint on the second step. The first thing I see is that the west (left) end of the imprint is straight, not curved, indicating that this is a sole, not a heel print. Next, I make measurements in the arbitrary units of the printout and find that the crime scene print is 0.72 units wide and 1.00 units long for a length/width ratio of 1.39. Hence, it is too long to be a heel; it must be the sole, and pointing downstairs, not up.

    However, there are a couple of problems with this simple analysis: 1) the left edge of the print is obscured by a chance leaf, and so it can not be determined if it is really (as the leaf makes it appear) a straight line or a curved one, and 2) there is no assurance that this is a full-width image (in fact, we shall see it probably is not) in which case the length/width ratio is not relevant.

    To further explore the situation, I superposed the red outline of the real Bruno Magli shoe over the imprint on the second step, aligning at the left and bottom of the two images as well as I could by eye. The Bodziak standard was adjusted in size so that it's length was about equal to the width of the step (both about 12"). The result is seen in Figure 4 [DEAR_02B.JPG].dear_02b.jpg (33466 bytes) Obviously, the imprint on the second step is much too small to be a full width imprint from the Bruno Magli shoe - except, perhaps, at the very back end of the sole.

    Furthermore, we do not see the detail of the Bruno Magli shoe pattern in this imprint, as we do in the imprints of the fleeing Simpson on the upper walk. From my recent investigations of the characteristics of tracked liquids, I would say that this is an indication that this is a first imprint out of the source of blood. Notice that the heel is against the third riser, as though the wearer has drawn his foot back across the step until the riser stopped it, then put his foot down. In such a situation, any weight would be on the front part of the foot, and the shoe might even be bent up at the back. Nonetheless, there is no imprint toward the toes - from this presumably freshly blood-loaded shoe - only near the back of the sole. This indicates that the blood was acquired in a way that only stained the back of the sole, not the front.

    HOW THIS PRINT CAME TO BE:
Now notice that the blood pool on the first step (Figure 1) is solid, opaque, and sharp edged, except near the front and far side (north). The thinness and vagueness of the pool there is an indication that it has been stepped in. In fact, I think that is how this print on the second step acquired its blood.

    Consider that as Simpson was first entering the scene, and the lighting was so bad that he could not see the steps, he got to a point where both feet were on the second step, his left foot at about the place marked "Leaf." Then he stepped down with the right foot onto the first step at the circle marked "Inbound," realized he had stepped in liquid, and withdrew his foot to the second step where he left the print we have been analyzing ("Shoeprint"). Without really putting much weight on that foot, he stepped again, now over the first step and to the walk behind Nicole's head, thereby to finally enter the murder scene. Compare the width of the void in the first-step blood pool (3") with the length of the foot print on the second step (3.4"). This small difference could be accounted for by a reflow of the pool to slightly fill in the space between the time Simpson stepped in it and the time this picture was taken.

    As previously analyzed ("One Man, One Trip"), the other part of the first step void is accounted for by Simpson's first footfall out of the murder scene as he was leaving. Finally, we understand that the straight-line blood stains on the far side of the second step are where Nicole's killer laid his knife after he slit her throat, and while he needed both hands free to reposition her body.

    CONCLUSION: The disputed imprint on the second step is a partial sole print pointing east. All of it's characteristics (position, size, relationship to the blood pool, lack of detail) are consistent with the idea that the blood pool already existed on the first step when Simpson entered the scene. (Which is probably why Bodziak never tried to explain this print's cause.) There is no mystery to this print, and no reason to think it must have been "planted."

  

Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (2/23/02) NG_744.txt

(Detail of Simpson's Entry Into the Crime Scene)

 

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