PURPORTED GTE PHONE BILL

THE ISSUE: For the past year or so, advocates of "Simpson never went to Bundy" have claimed that their contention is proved by an 11:00 o'clock phone call from Juditha Brown (Nicole's mother) to her daughter. (In a related argument, they have also claimed that the Browns could not have driven from the Mezzaluna to home in the interval indicated by the departure time of Mezzalua witnesses, and the time of the first call shown on the phone bill. I have previously analyzed this argument elsewhere.) Since Simpson's whereabouts are well established from 10:55 onward, an 11:00 o'clock phone call from Juditha to Nicole would be conclusive proof that Simpson did not kill his ex-wife. Advocates of this idea remind us that in the first days after the murder, Juditha was interviewed by TV news and claimed that she had called Nicole at 11:00 pm on the murder night, and Juditha also had told this to a coroner investigator a few hours after hearing of her daughter's murder. The idea of an 11:00 pm phone call from Juditha to Nicole was thereby mentioned in the coroner's report, and hence is claimed to have some official support.

    However, at the time Juditha was confidently making this claim, her husband, Lou Brown, quietly cautioned that perhaps we should wait until the phone bill came; it was not his recollection that the call from Juditha to Nicole was that late. (I saw him caution this, myself, in a TV interview.) When the phone bill (dated July 4th) did come, it was reported that the only call on Sunday night, June 12th, from the Brown residence in Orange County to Nicole's number in Brentwood occurred at 9:40 pm. The bill itself was received in court with some grandstanding, and eventually was presented in the criminal case in the form of an enlarged photographic exhibit. But, it was not (as far as I recall) attested to by an employee of GTE (the originator of the bill) as is usually the case with commercial documents brought to court.

    And so, the advocates of the 11:00 o'clock phone call have been claiming that the phone bill in court was bogus. However, the defense attorneys did not object (and may actually have stipulated to it.)

    SEE FOR YOURSELF: Now a purported reproduction of this prosecution exhibit has been brought into some Simpson case discussion groups, and you can see this for yourself. phonebill.jpg (223862 bytes)What you see here is a copy of a document that was provided by Bill Hodgeman of the LA District Attorney's office to Lou Brown on December 21, 1999. I have the impression that this has come to us through a lengthy path that includes our own Dr. Johnson in the loop, though I am not positive about that. Of several digital versions circulating around I am advised this is one of the better.

    The last digit of the phone numbers on the right is cut off, and it appears that the photograph may have been made with a piece of white paper obscuring some of the dollar charges. However, these may have been a characteristic of the original exhibit, so I am not sure that this reproduction is any different than the original shown in court. And, this digital version is, regrettably, somewhat grainy.phonebill2.jpg (113506 bytes)

    MY INTERPRETATION: Although I can see a number of seeming "irregularities" as the 11:00 advocates have identified (alignment flaws, irregular character sizes, etc.), I do not know what a genuine phone bill from that time and place would look like, and so I can not be sure that these are not artifacts produced on a real bill. Insofar as the times shown on here are in fairly close agreement with the times of events testified to by witnesses in court, until I see some concrete reason to doubt the phone record, I myself accept it as legitimate. Specifically, it shows that Juditha's call to the Mezzaluna commenced at 9:37 and lasted for two minutes, the call from Juditha to Nicole started at 9:40 and lasted two minutes, and that there was no later (as around 11:00 o'clock) call from Juditha's phone.

    In particular, I notice that there were several Mezzaluna witness that testified in various proceedings that Ron Goldman left the restaurant at 9:55. At the time he left, Juditha's glasses had already been found, and Ron had already had a conversation with Nicole whereby he had agreed to bring the glasses to her himself. So, both of those conversations (Juditha to Mezzaluna and Nicole to Ron) must have happened before 9:55, and according to this bill they did. (It is also implied that Nicole called Ron specifically because her mother had just informed her by phone of the discovery of the glasses. According to the phone record, that call from Juditha to Nicole happened at 9:40, and according to Mezzaluna employees Nicole's call to Ron was at about 9:45. All of that fits with Ron's leaving the restaurant at 9:55).

    The claim of a fraudulent phone bill can not concern the 9:37 and 9:40 times, since they are verified by other events/witnesses. It can only be claimed that the bill omits a later SECOND call by Juditha to Nicole, but there is no documented (or even anecdotal) reason to think that Juditha made a second call to her daughter on that Sunday night.

I think it is a great stretch to doubt the authenticity of this document.

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