HEIDSTRA ON E!
In the E! 2-Hour summary of the Bundy Murders, "OJ, Nicole, and Ron: Countdown to Murder," Heidstra tells his experience (in the company of his surviving dog) from the alley and from the big tree on Dorothy from where he saw the Bronco. [Figure 1, E!-HEIDS.JPG] This time, he tells it in his own way without the "help" of attorneys who have there own agendas to shape his words. He says...
"I heard all of a sudden two voices and its... One was 'Hey, hey, hey,' and another voice immediately talk back very deep voice and they were like an argument or something, no more than that. And I was listening to all this and then I heard the gate slamming. I'm sure it was Nicole's gate. So I continue out of the alley with my two dogs. The Akita was barking non-stop. We went all of the way out of the alley until we came to Dorothy Street.
"And at this point under the tree I stopped with my two dogs and looked back at Bundy. It was still a big noise from those dogs, and all of a sudden it was very clear there at night. There is a light there, a streetlight. I could see, from the other side of Dorothy, a white Jeep with tinted glasses come down out of the dark. Stopped at the corner there, for a moment, and sped away fast. And I thought to myself, 'Boy this guy - the person - is in a hurry'."
Now, I don't claim that this statement, or any other statement, made by Heidstra is the absolute and literal truth without some interpretation. No specific criticism of Heidstra in this; I think it is true of all people that spontaneous statements are not as reliable as written statements that the author has a chance to review and revise, to make sure that what he says accurately reflects what he believes. But, our courts are not interested in truth or accuracy, they are not intended to be other than arenas where attorneys vie to "win." So, the method of public verbal interrogation suits the purpose best.
THE VEHICLE: Of Heidstra's statements in particular, I think that many of us would have a problem with his saying that the fleeing vehicle was a "Jeep" rather than a more generic term, such as "SUV" that could have included a Bronco. (In the criminal trial, I believe he was backed into saying "Jeep-like".)
In the visual portrayal of this statement, Heidstra is relating the story from the north sidewalk of Dorothy and the camera pans toward Budy; it is clear that from the sidewalk position, you can not see the intersection -- cars at the curb and a row of small trees in the parkway block the view. Heidstra must have been some degree in the street, or at least beyond the row of small trees, when he saw the white SUV turn and race south on Bundy. But, I also see from the video that I am wrong in saying that Heidstra was 50 feet from the alley when he saw this -- he was 100 feet from it. Henceforth I will describe the distance that he walked from where he heard the men's voices to where he saw the white SUV as 200 feet, not 150 feet.
AN "ARGUMENT": When Heidstra, in the criminal trial, first described the sounds of the men he said that the second man was "fast talking." Cochran introduced the word "argument" to describe this, and Heidstra went along with that word, but with some qualification, such as "sort of an argument." In this interview we see he says, "...and they were like an argument or something, no more than that." Again he is minimizing the idea of an argument by saying, "like an argument or something." What should we make of "...no more than that."? What is more than an argument? A "fight," I should say. So, I take Heidstra to mean by this that what he heard was a verbal interaction, not the sounds of a physical interaction.
CONTINUITY OF EVENTS: We do not see anything in this account about a five minute lapse between what he heard and what Heidstra saw. In fact, we do not even see anything suggestive of such a period, such as "I waited to listen for a while to the commotion from the street." Heidstra's description here makes it sound like the following events followed directly one after another:
* He heard "Hey, hey, hey"
* A second man talked back ("immediately")
* A gate clanged ("while listening to all this")
* He leaves the alley ("So I continue out of the alley..."
There was no mention of the five minute delay when Heidstra told his experience in the criminal trial, and no hint of it here in the E! interview. I think it was "remembered" specifically for Petrocelli in the criminal trial, in the same way as Petrocelli coached Kato to "remember" that the three thumps were not really as he had described them in the criminal trial. That is, Petrocelli manipulated his witnesses to say what (he thought) would help him win his case. Another defect in our justice system that the unprincipled attorneys are allowed to tamper with witnesses in advance of their testimony. In view of the opportunities for attorneys to manipulate testimony, it is a wonder that there are any who accept courtroom accounts as the final - and only - word.
AN AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH: The segment also contained scenes from the criminal trial in which Heidstra is testifying beside a large color photograph from the air showing the alley, the street of Bundy, and the house and vegetation between. [Figure 2, AERIAL2.JPG; blue annotation has been added.] It is preposterous to think that Heidstra could tell the location of sound as being from Nicole's gate and not from the street in front of Nicole's walk, at that distance and with all those intervening objects - not to mention the confusion of the 20 foot grade separation. Heidstra may be "sure" it was Nicole's gate that clanged, and that the voices were coming from that vicinity, but from the photograph one can see that no mortal could really discriminate that closely.
OVERALL: I take Heidstra's statements on E! to be consistent with my idea that only two minutes elapsed from the time he heard "Hey, hey, hey" to the time when he saw the white SUV. Furthermore, I take his statement of "like an argument or something, no more than that." to specifically mean that he did not think that the sound he heard was a fight between the two men whose voices he heard. In other words, Heidstra did not hear Simpson and Goldman fighting (or anybody else fighting). As I have often said, I think that the men he heard were simply trying to shoo the dog out of the roadway, and commenting about the carelessness of owners who would let a dog like that run lose at night.
(Heidstra can not be sure exactly where the sounds he heard originated.)
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (3/19/02) E!-Heids.txt