THE SIMPSON INTERVIEW TAPE
In February of 2001 I researched the situation along Simpson's back walk and the adjoining neighbor's property, the Salingers, to evaluate Petrocelli's claim (as represented by Bob August) that Simpson entered his property by going through the Salinger's lot, and over their fence, whereupon he crashed into the side of Kato's wall and produced the "three thumps" that Kato reported [Figure 1, AERIAL1.JPG]. It was a doubtful idea to begin with, but when the specifics were uncovered and presented in the article, "Over the Salingers' Fence" on our web site at http://wagnerandson.com it became quite unbelievable.
At that time, John Junot commented that Simpson had produced an interview tape, and in that had taken the camera on a tour of the back walk. Junot said that from that tape, some issues I had guessed at (like the height of the fence and the condition of the hedge between Simpson's property and the Salingers') could be known with some reliability. By the time I heard this, though, Simpson's interview tape ("O.J. Simpson, The Interview" (1996)" had been out of production for five years. I have been on the lookout for it ever since. Recently, Rose found a copy offered on the internet, and we snatched it up. We have now reviewed it, captured more than a hundred images from it, and created several drawings and maps suggested by that material. I expect that we will be able to produce articles on...
* Simpson's Back Walk,
* Gates at Simpson's Estate, and
* The Rockingham Floor Plan.
The tape itself is lengthy (160 minutes) and of that, 2 hours is simply Simpson, in a sit-down interview in his family room [Figure 2, INTERVW4.JPG], verbalizing into the camera the "reasons for doubt" that his attorneys invented in the criminal trial. At the outset, Simpson is quite frank that the reason he is doing it is for the money he thinks it will produce upon distribution. (I guess he did realize a little from it, but that was before the civil trial verdict siphoned off any income as fast as it came in.) The substance of the interview (monologue, really) is the fancied reasons to doubt he made the trip to Nicole's condo on the murder night. However, some of those had only been floated as speculative possibilities during the time of the criminal trial, and here Simpson makes definite, flat-footed assertions himself.
CHIPPING GOLF BALLS: One such case is the matter of "chipping golf balls." This was one of the several activities that Simpson's attorneys alleged he was engaged in at the time the prosecution believed he was at Bundy. (In his civil trial testimony Simpson said that he made the 10:03 phone call to Barbieri standing on his driveway next to his Bentley. After that call, he said he continued to hit golf balls, went out to his Bronco, walked his dog, and then went into his house.)
On the tape, Simpson stands on the curve in his driveway near where there had been a net to catch golf balls and talks about "chipping balls," retrieving a bag of balls from the Bentley, and walking the dog around the outside corner to the Ashford gate, though he is not clear about the sequence of these acts. He did not comment in the tape about the 10:03 phone call to Barbieri. However, both the story on the tape and the testimony could have been true, but it is largely irrelevant. As he himself says on the tape, it would have taken only ten minutes to have done all of those things, and if that ten minutes was between 9:55 and 10:05 (it must have been early, since Park arrived at 10:23 and did not see it), those activities around 10 o'clock do not in the least interfere with the places (on Bundy) that I think he was at 10:30 to 10:45. They would not be a problem for no-Js of the Petrocelli camp (as Bob August), either. So, I accept as true the story of "chipping golf balls."
THE "BOOK BAG": In that same segment, standing on the front lawn, Simpson talks about the "book bag" that Park saw him load into the limo. He says that it contained a windbreaker and some golf balls, and that he had retrieved that bag from the Bentley (probably at the time of the "chipping golf balls" incident) together with a "little white bag" of fresh golf balls. He implies that he left the white bag in his house and put the book bag into the limo then re-packed it into other luggage during the ride to the airport. Simpson says that he had been ready to prove the fact by producing the book bag in court, and he expresses some bitterness that Ito had not allowed its admission. (Ito had based his rejection on the fact that Park had previewed the bag and said that he had never seen it before. Therefore, there was no evidence -- other than Simpson's word, and he was not testifying-- that the bag that Simpson offered was actually the one at issue, and Ito's exclusion of it seems reasonable to me.)
"OTHER WAYS IN": Simpson takes the cameraman outside to follow him down the back pathway at Rockingham to Kato's air conditioner where Kato reported "three thumps" and a crime scene glove was found the next morning. Along the way, he pauses to point out a side door to the garage (not depicted on the prosecution exhibit of Simpson's estate) that he could have used to get into the house. He deflects the prosecution argument that he could not have got in by that door because there were some things stored on the other side of it. Simpson opens the door on the tape [Figure 3, S_WALK05.JPG] to show that it opens outward; thereby, he argues, he could have pushed any blocking objects aside and negotiated an entry. (All agree that if he had got into the attached garage, there is a door from there into the house proper.)
However, Simpson's argument presumes that the thought of using that door had occurred to him, AND that he could get it open. Just because he thought of it by 1996, it does not mean that he thought of it on June 12th, 1994. Also, Petrocelli made a big analysis of what keys he thought Simpson had with him when he went to Bundy, and it was Petrocelli's idea that Simpson did not have keys to his own house and outside gates. (Petrocelli alleged that the Rockingham house key was not on the same key ring as the Bronco key, and for some reason Petrocelli did not think Simpson could have more than two key rings in his pocket at the same time.) It was this idea that launched Petrocelli on his silly concept that Simpson had entered his property over the Salinger's fence, and crashing over the fence caused the sounds on Kato's wall. (More about this in the forthcoming article on the back walk.) Nonetheless, if Simpson did not have his house key with him (and had left the front door to his house unlocked for this short trip) he would probably not have been able to get in through the side garage door. So, the fact it open outward is irrelevant.
A little later on the tour of the back walk, Simpson also points out the outside door to the laundry room hall, though he does not make the same demonstration of opening that door, nor does he much issue of the fact that he could have gone in by that way, too. (An even more likely choice I would think, if he had his house keys with him.)
The net result on me of this line of discussion in the interview tape is to persuade me that...
* Simpson went to Bundy without his house keys in his pocket,
* He had left his front door unlocked, and so had to find a way to get back in through that without letting Park see him, and
* The Bronco was parked on Rockingham (as Lopez saw at about 10:10, but not its usual location) when Simpson left for Bundy. (Because of this, when he left his estate for that trip at 10:22 he walked out through the Rockingham gate, proceeded in the Bronco east on Ashford, through a right turn from Ashford to Bristol Court, then south to the signal at Sunset. Because of this, he did not pass Park who was coming up Rockingham at that same time, and just missed Simpson's departure by a minute or so.)
"COULD BE ANYBODY'S BLOOD": Simpson is disdainful of the significance of the blood analysis, evidently buying into the "cesspool of contamination" ideas floated by his attorneys. Because of this, he put his own "evidence placards" in his driveway to simulate those that the police put where they found blood spots, and disdains the significance of them.
Of the two at the inside of the Rockingham gate he stands between them and asserts that they are wide enough apart that they imply that they were shed by a man bleeding from both hands, not imagining the possibility that one man, bleeding from one hand, could move between the time that one drop fell and the next one did. Of these and the two in front of the house, he shrugs and says they could have come from anybody, since the LAPD was so careless in collecting and analyzing them. However, it's a little hard for Simpson to use the "it could have been anybody's blood" argument with the three small drops in his foyer [Figure 4, FOYER2.JPG], since that is not a place that many people went, and probably the housekeeper would have cleaned up such stains if they had been there when she left for the weekend. Of these, he is dismissive to say the drops were small, and they were probably caused by a "paper cut."
It is hard to imagine that many people would not think that Simpson himself had not left those blood stains all in the same episode on Sunday night, considering that he showed up Monday morning with a fresh wound on his finger, and there were additional samples (admittedly small) of his blood also found in his Bronco the next morning.
PARK'S LIMITED SIGHTING: Simpson considers that Allan Park was a sincere witness who simply made a few errors in his observations. However, Simpson also thinks that one should rely on Park's account of the "shadowy figure" he saw, and replays a clip from TV coverage of the trial showing Park placing an X at the location where he saw the figure. That X is not in the driveway, but is at the place where the front porch meets the driveway. By this, Simpson claims that Park did not see anyone "cross the driveway" as Marcia Clark represented.
I guess that Simpson has a literal point there, but I think we can interpret that when Clark said that Park saw the shadowy figure cross the driveway she was integrating into the scene the fact that two of the Simpson blood drops had been found on the driveway within Park's area of sight, but farther up the driveway. Thereby, it is reasonable for us to consider that Park caught sight of Simpson at the point in his path when he had just reached his porch. (Simpson admits that Park might have seen him on his porch, and claims that he had just set a couple of bags on the porch when Park was at the Ashford gate. There is no explanation for why Park had been paging the house for fifteen minutes solid at that time, yet Simpson had been unaware that the limo had come.)
NO EUGENIA JUICE: While Simpson is showing the back walk, he comments that the eugenia hedges that separate his place from the Salingers' have juicy berries at that time of year, and they litter the walkway [Figure 5, S_WALK17.JPG]. Presumably, a person passing by on that path would crush some of these berries, creating stains on the soles of his shoes, but no such stains were found on the white carpet of Simpson's stairs. Therefore, Simpson argues, he could not have been on that back walk at one time, and then walked up his stairs a few minutes later without leaving an indication.
The flaw in that argument is that if he removed his shoes after going in the back walk, and put the shoes in the book bag before going into the house, the eugenia juice would be in the book bag. Simpson himself makes this possibility viable by showing us that Park did not see him when he was in the middle of the driveway, but only when he was on the edge of the porch where Park would not be able to see his feet because of obscuring plants beside the porch. Thereby, Park did not know whether Simpson was wearing shoes when he went into the house or not. (Hard enough to tell black shoes from black socks only under the lighting of the circumstances.)
"UGLY ASSED SHOES": Concerning the Bruno Magli shoes that left the prints at Bundy in Nicole's blood, Simpson complains that the FBI, for all their thorough investigation, did not produce a list of all the people who did buy that rare shoe, so that the world could see that his name was not on the list. (A ridiculously unreasonable demand, I must say.) He also says that he never pays attention to the brand of dress shoes he buys, and could not tell you what the brand was of the shoes on his feet at the time of the interview. I suppose that Simpson is right about that -- I never have paid any attention to the maker's name of shoes I wear, either. But, that is completely irrelevant. Whoever made my shoes, if they had tracked in blood of the crime of the century, the maker's name would soon become a household word.
Furthermore, Simpson's comments lead to the idea that someone had deliberately tracked in blood with shoes that would be considered by the world to be characteristic of him (expensive and exclusive). But, it is nonsensical to think that someone out to frame Simpson left those tracks. By the time that person got to the alley, they would have a pair of the exact shoes (more than just the exclusive brand) at hand, certifiably stained with Nicole's blood, and it would be a FAR better frame-up to take those shoes to Rockingham and throw them over Simpson's wall than to toss them in a dumpster -- as Simpson would apparently have you think was done. Since this was not the way it went down, I am inclined to think that the Bruno Magli shoe print trail was not a contrivance to frame Simpson, but was done by a person who DID NOT want Simpson blamed, and so the shoes were secretly disposed of afterward.
"LIGHTS WENT ON": Simpson makes much on the tape of what seems to me to be a small point. In his testimony, Park said that after he had rung the intercom for fifteen minutes solid to no result, the shadowy figure came, went into the house and suddenly the lights came on. Simpson disputes that idea, and says that from his position at the Ashford gate Park could not have been able to tell much about the state of the lights. To illustrate this, Simpson turns on some of the first floor lights at night, and has the camera man begin at the Ashford gate, come down the driveway, turn toward the house, and come in through the opening front door. It is true that from Park's position the house looks nearly dark, even though it is actually full of lights. But, we do not know if this was not artfully staged. Furthermore, Simpson himself admits that after Park saw him "drop a couple of bags on the porch" as the shadowy figure, he may have turned on the chandelier at the stairs... So, I gather that Simpson himself knows that even under the most favorable of conditions, some change of lighting might have been seen by Park. (Also, the second floor lights may contribute to the effect more than those on the first floor that Simpson turned on for this demonstration.)
STRAY QUOTES: The tape contains a number of flat assertions and quotes that might be of interest to the reader, and I list some of them here without much elaboration or comment...
* On his overall guilt: "I swear before God, I did not commit these crimes." "I'm an innocent man." Asked whether he killed Nicole, Simpson said, "Absolutely not. I could not kill anyone."
* On the subject of his being at Bundy at or after the time of the murders: "I was not there that night." "I hadn't been at Nicole's house." "It's not my blood [at Bundy]." "Basically, I was home [between 9:36 and 10:53]."
* He repeats the fabricated misunderstanding that the detectives would have had to open the Bronco door to have seen "four wisps of blood" on the sill.
* Of Nicole, "Nicole was a strong woman and didn't take any crap from anyone." "Nicole was a confrontational person, not only with me but with other people." "My favorite person on this earth -- except maybe my mother..." "Nicole was a super mom. We never had an argument about the kids." "Nicole would have stood by me." Nicole consulted with OJ (and Cora) when she had problems with her lovers. (!)
* Of the detectives, "Lange was the best of a bad lot." Simpson began by believing that Fuhrman had actually found the glove, but before the end Simpson "is 100% convinced" that Fuhrman had planted it. During the reading of the criminal trial verdict Simpson was looking at Vannatter; he says that if Vannatter had looked back at him, Simpson would have "lost his cool."
* "I don't know where my black gloves are, and I don't know what became of the mate to the brown sheepskin glove the LAPD confiscated." (Hint: the black gloves are in the LAPD evidence room.)
* Denies he took a nap during the evening of June 12th ("It would be dumb to do when you're going to be on a red-eye flight and want to sleep then.") He says that the reason that Park attributed this to him is that Kato speculated in Park's presence that Simpson had been napping.
* He minimizes the importance of the Barbieri breakup on that Sunday (if he had even known of it) since they had had a blowup the previous weekend in Palm Springs over his going golfing, and she had walked out in a huff then, only to come back a week later.
* "In the five or six months that Kato lived here he saw me at home after 8:30 pm maybe twice." (Simpson asserts that he usually went to bed at 8:30 or 9:00 o'clock and got up at 4:30 or 5:00 for early golf dates. Therefore, Kato would not be a good source to know if Simpson was home after Kato last saw him at 9:36 or not.)
* Says he does not think there was an overt conspiracy in the LAPD to frame him, but thinks the DA put out prejudicial information to produce a public bias against him. (The 911 tape as an example, and countless favorable interviews the DA did, but suppressed, with Simpson friends and acquaintances.)
* Simpson says he was told in the morning on Friday, June 17th that he would be arrested that day.
* Simpson thinks the idea that the cops came to his estate to look for the killer or some dying victim is ridiculous, and he says that if that were true, he should be furious at the police for their conduct on entering the house. "They let my daughter walk in first into the house when they claim that they were concerned that there was a killer in there." (He's got a point, I think.)
* Simpson definitely says that he visited the Bronco while Park and Kato were loading the limo.
* The reason he wanted to eat something (and made the trip to McDonalds) is because he thought it would help him to stay awake for his flight.
* Simpson claims that the prosecution could not confirm the Faye Resnick stories
* Simpson says that you could not park two cars in the Rockingham end of the driveway (as Park mistakenly thought were there) and be able to get a stretch limo around that corner -- the route that Park came out. [Figure 6, DRIVE6.JPG]
OVERALL: Most of Simpson's overt objectives to defend himself by recapitulating his lawyers' stories fall flat. We have all heard this stuff before, and it doesn't play any more credibly for coming from Simpson's own lips. The defenses that Simpson raises on the tape are most often irrelevancies, rather than outright contradictions with other evidence. As was the case with the criminal trial defense, the major requirement for believing that Simpson did not go to Bundy on the murder night is to also believe that the police are so unreliable in their routine handling of evidence (and witnesses are routinely so unreliable in their accounts) that nobody should ever be convicted in any American criminal court. Lock the courthouse doors and send the attorneys, cops, and jailers to find honest work, according to this thinking.
However, the video is valuable for showing some locations around the estate that we have not seen in any other place -- particularly the back walk, the Rockingham gate in operation, the front porch, and the interior from the front door to the family room, then turning south to look toward the pool/trophy room. From captures of those scenes it has been possible to greatly refine an understanding of the physical situation at Rockingham.
Also, the video is interesting for providing flat assertions about the crime and aftermath in Simpson's own words. However, I am not sure how valuable this is in uncovering the truth of the matter. For example, Simpson says with absolute sincerity that he did not go to Bundy that night, and I do not believe that is true. In fact, he is so earnest when he denies the trip, I believe he could pass a polygraph test on the subject. But, that does not mean it is true that he did not go to Bundy on the murder night; it just means he believes it. I realize that he had a mind-frying experience from that Sunday night to the following Friday night, and at the end was clinically suicidal; I am not enough of a psychologist to be sure what so extreme an emotional experience might have had on his memory. Furthermore, during the following year he was confined to jail and nearly his only friendly contact was with his attorneys, who were filling his head with the most fanciful stories to explain away the evidence that put Simpson at the murder scene at or near the time of the crimes; Simpson apparently came to believe these inventions. Between these two forces, I should not be surprised if Simpson truly did not believe he had gone to Bundy by the time he made this video two years later. What he might believe today, I can't imagine.
(On his self-promoting video Simpson gives some facts in spite of himself.)
Dick Wagner ( Van Nuys, CA (12/03/02) INTERVW.TXT