The Popular Concept

  THE SITUATION

    The subject of this web site is a double homicide which occurred in the Brentwood community of Los Angeles some time after 10:00 pm on Sunday, June 12th, 1994. The victims were 35 year-old Nicole Brown Simpson and 25 year-old Ronald Lyle Goldman; both were unmarried Caucasian residents of the community. The victims knew each other (it was reported that Ron had escorted Nicole to some Westside discos in exchange for a chance to drive her car), but were not believed to have been romantically involved. The crimes occurred within the small front walk area of Nicole's condominium at 875 S. Bundy Drive.

    The neighborhood was originally developed in the 1920's as single family houses. Just south of Nicole's place many of the original houses survive, and are well maintained and in some cases improved. Here and there -- as at Nicole's and particularly the block behind her to the west at Gretna Green -- some of the old houses have been pulled out, and a new duplex condo built. Beginning up the hill and a half block east the neighborhood has been rebuilt almost solid with two-story apartment houses -- sterile, same, and well tended by some faceless financial institution. It is a mixed residential neighborhood.

    Palm tree lined Bundy Drive, itself, is a main north/south thoroughfare (with a bus line) but it is only two lanes, and is quite winding in some places. Traffic is fast, and fairly heavy. To the east, where the apartment houses are, one is more likely to win the lottery than to find an unoccupied parking space. But, on Bundy often there are hardly ever any cars parked at the curb (garages on the alleys, behind).

    Ron Goldman was a waiter at a nearby up-scale restaurant, the Mezzaluna, and had been just getting off work at 9:30 that night when a call came to the restaurant from Nicole's mother. Nicole had hosted a dinner party at the restaurant earlier that evening for her family (party of 10), and the mother had discovered that her reading glasses were missing before she returned home to Orange county. She called the restaurant to inquire whether anyone had found them. A quick search of the restaurant was unavailing, but the glasses were found in the street in front of the restaurant where the mother had embarked the family car after dinner. The glasses were retrieved and the mother was advised. A second call to the Mezzaluna came from Nicole five minutes later, and she talked to Ron Goldman. Ron agreed to deliver the glasses to Nicole that night, and they were put in an envelope and given to him. It is believed that he went to his nearby apartment and changed from his waiter's uniform before delivering the glasses to Nicole, on his way to the Marina for a planned late evening outing with friends.

    Nicole was a dynamic and adventurous woman with upscale tastes; the license plate on her white Ferrari was L8 4AD8, "Late for a Date." She had been married to O.J. Simpson, ten years older than herself, an Afro-American football legend (1968 Heisman trophy running back) in the 1970's, and was the mother of his two children, Sydney and Justin, who lived with her at the Bundy Drive condo. From historical television footage shown after the crime, it appears that shortly after Nicole was out of high school, she began to seek O.J. out, finally marrying him at the time he retired from professional football. He quickly found a new career as celebrity spokesman for a variety of products, and she happily joined into this new world, appearing contentedly on his arm at social events. They occupied together an estate at 360 N. Rockingham, also in Brentwood, about two miles from the crime scene. O.J. was living there at the time of the crimes.

    The nature of the marital discord that ended their marriage is not clear, but the media has hinted that Nicole had come to feel deprived of the period of sexual experimentation that most young people experience after they leave high school, and that O.J. could not imagine himself in a relationship with a wife who was so engaged. However, during the trial it was portrayed that she left OJ because of his physical abuse toward her. There was a late hour incident on New Year's 1989 when he beat her severely, and that resulted in judicial notice. He was ordered to undergo therapy, which he did, but Nicole filed for divorce in February 1992, nonetheless. There were other accounts of spousal abuse, and the prosecution would eventually imply that the cause of the divorce was that abuse.

    The two continued to be friends, and from time to time attempted reconciliations. The last period of reconciliation began in May 1993, ran into 1994, and ended in the second week of May in that year. From all appearances, that breakup was not particularly stormy, but it was serious: Nicole returned videotapes of their marriage, and jewelry O.J. had given her for her May birthday. However, during that period Nicole suffered a brief illness, and O.J. visited to bring her medicine, and also during that period Nicole visited at O.J.'s estate and was seen sitting on his lap. From this, we have the image that they were embarked on separate lives, but continued to be at least cordial. During the time when a reconciliation was not in effect, O.J. brought into his life a substitute companion, Paula Barbieri, a Caucasian model in her twenties. Nicole, by contrast, was not reported to have established a public relationship with a man in the period after the early May breakup, but occupied herself jogging thru Brentwood and socializing with girlfriends. She had dated other men, however, between the February '92 breakup and the May '93 reconciliation.

    In January, 1992, Nicole rented a modern two-story house at 325 S. Gretna Green Way, five or six blocks north and a block west of the eventual murder scene, and moved there. The house had guest quarters and Nicole rented it to a younger man, Kato Kaelin, whom she had met in Colorado. During that period, there was an incident involving an October 25, 1993 911 call. It was a time in which the reconciliation was in process, and O.J. discovered a picture album with photos of Nicole's former boyfriends; according to the publicized interpretation of the 911 tapes OJ became so angry over that, Nicole called the cops. The tapes were played repeatedly by the media during the time of the preliminary hearing. During the call, O.J. raged in the background and Nicole sounded as much worried as frightened. The 911 operator asked several leading questions to determine whether Nicole was in fear for her life; she clearly was not, but she was almost certain that she was about to receive a severe beating. Kato witnessed the incident and the police did come. No blows were struck, no one was arrested, but O.J. had kicked in the French doors in order to gain access to the interior of Nicole's house and confront her on some issue.people_small.jpg (5742 bytes)

    In December, 1993 Nicole sold the Gretna Green property and bought the Bundy condo. She offered to let Kato stay in the maid's room which would be otherwise unused, but O.J. said he thought that having a man in Nicole's place would be unseemly (they were in a nominal state of reconciliation at the time) and Simpson offered Kato guest quarters at his Rockingham estate, rent free. Since Kato had been paying Nicole $400 a month on Gretna Green, babysitting and running errands, O.J.'s offer was too good to pass up. Kato moved to Rockingham and Nicole occupied the Bundy place with the children. Some have said that Nicole was angry with Kato over the arrangement and characterized his decision as "selling out" to O.J. Although Kato does not consider that his action was more than a peace-making decision, he did feel that Nicole was cooler toward him in the last six months than she had been before -- in spite of his trying to retain the earlier friendship. (Kato's decision might also have been influenced by the fact that the Bundy maid's quarters were like a dark dungeon, looking out on a blank wall, while the Rockingham guest house was light, airy, and facing a virtual park.)

    Since the time when O.J. and Nicole had been married, O.J. had a housekeeper named Michele. Michele and Nicole did not get along. It was Michele's view that O.J. was master of the house, and all others, including his wife, should obey. Nicole was far too liberated to share this view, and hence the two women had divergent views on Nicole's role. The issue was more than academic. During the New Year's incident -- goes one story -- Nicole hid out from the raging O.J. in a room that was also occupied by Michele. It was Michele who unlocked the door and gave O.J. access to beat Nicole. Then, after the beating, Nicole called 911 and fled to the outside of the house. It is well documented that after the police arrived, it was Michele who tried to get rid of them when they paged from the gate by telling them that the call was a mistake. It was only when Nicole appeared before the police from the shadows, half-dressed, trembling and bruised, that the truth was revealed.

    Because of the long-standing enmity between Michele and Nicole, in March of 1994 O.J. agreed to placate Nicole by replacing Michele with another housekeeper, Gigi, a friend of Michele's. Gigi began work full time for O.J. in April, and was working for him at the time of the crimes, but on that particular night was away, unexpectedly staying with her family over Sunday night.

    Nicole suddenly decided to sell the Bundy property in the week or two before the crimes. In fact, she had put the place on the market late in that final week. Part of her plan was to evade taxes on the sale by claiming that she was moving back to her previous residence on Rockingham, but O.J. would not agree to the ruse, and advised her so in a letter which she received on the final Thursday. Under other circumstances, we could think that her reason for selling was to formalize and deepen the separation with O.J., but the plan to claim to be again living with him does not seem consistent with that motive. There was a hint in a note that Nicole wrote to O.J. in May, 1994 accompanying videotapes she was returning to him, that she sensed some unspecified danger in the air that came from some other source than him -- indeed from some source that she might want him to protect her from. It could be that the same premonition of danger caused her to suddenly want her to sell the house. But, too little has been offered on this subject to know for sure.

    In late 1993, O.J. bought a new dog to replace an aging household pet that, in fact, died the following March. The new dog was a young Akita which they named, "Kato". It pretty much traveled with the children, staying mostly on Bundy, but visiting at Rockingham when O.J.'s children visited there. It was in the Bundy household on the night of the crimes.

    Another player who crossed the stage was Keith Zlomsowitch, a restaurateur whom Nicole met in Colorado. A few years after meeting Nicole, Keith and his partner opened a restaurant in Los Angeles -- the Mezzaluna. Nicole and Keith renewed their acquaintance, and during a period of estrangement from O.J., Nicole entertained Keith in her living room, unaware that O.J. was watching from the street outside. O.J. could see them engaged in an act of oral sex, and though he did not confront them then, told Keith the next day that he did not think that such activities were proper with his children sleeping in the house at the time. Keith's, carnal interest in Nicole evaporated then, but he continued to have a warm and friendly relationship with her.

    Arnelle Simpson is O.J.'s adult daughter by a previous marriage. She is an articulate, attractive, and personable young women. She had recently graduated from college on the east coast and began living in one of the three guest houses on O.J.'s estate when she returned to Los Angeles. She was living there on the night of the crime, but was away with friends at the time of the crime, and did not return until about 1:30 the following morning.

    Faye Resnick and the man who was at that time her fiancÚ, chiropractor Christian Reichardt, had been friends of O.J. and Nicole for some time. Faye is rumored to be a woman with a sensational and disreputable past, having a long association with the Westside drug culture. In March, she was contemplating breast augmentation surgery, but was discouraged from this by her fiancÚ who feared that pain relief drugs that would be prescribed would lead her again into an illicit cocaine experience. She went ahead with the surgery, nonetheless. On June 3rd, Faye came to live at Nicole's condo for reasons that have never been publicized; she continued to live there until June 8th. On that afternoon she suffered a drug overdose, and a crisis intervention session was convened away from the Bundy condo, which included her fiancÚ, her ex-husband, and Nicole, and she was persuaded that night to enter a drug rehab center, Exodus. The rehabilitation experience cost $7,000 which was paid by her fiancÚ. It has been represented that in the weeks preceding the murders, Faye had no employment and no assets, and the question has been raised as to how she could have afforded to supply herself with expensive cocaine over a two month period following her surgery. Shortly after being released from rehab, she authored a tell-all book about the crimes, and expressed the belief that O.J. committed the murders. She and Christian Reichardt became estranged shortly later.

    On Sunday, June 12th, the couple's eight-year-old daughter, Sydney, was to participate in a dance recital at the Paul Revere school in Brentwood. Nicole's parents had driven up from Orange County, and a dinner following the late afternoon recital was planned at the Mezzaluna restaurant. O.J. had always been close not only to Nicole, but to her family, as well. But, on this occasion Nicole made it clear that O.J. was not welcome to sit with the family at the recital, and was not being invited to the dinner afterward. He was peeved, and dragged a chair to the farthest corner of the auditorium, and watched the presentation from there. A videotape made by a member of the audience, however, showed that O.J. was cordial and warm to Nicole's mother and father outside after the performance, and embraced his children enthusiastically.

    Nicole's party dined from about 7:00 to 8:30, and following dinner Nicole walked with her children to a nearby ice cream parlor. The remains of a cup of ice cream she bought was found in the house after the murders were discovered. Nicole's mother was the last person known to have spoken to her -- in a phone conversation at about 9:45.

    O.J. had been in Buffalo, New York, the previous week and returned to Los Angeles both to attend the dance recital and a benefit the previous night to which he took Paula. He was planning to take the "red eye" to Chicago Sunday night, with a 11:45 pm departure from LAX; a limousine was scheduled to pick him up on Rockingham at 10:45. The planning for this trip had been made far enough in advance that the man in Chicago who was to meet O.J.'s flight knew of the flight number the preceding Wednesday.

    On Sunday morning, O.J. went to a local country club for a little golf, and in the afternoon played cards with friends there. During the afternoon, he made a brief and heated phone call, believed to have been to Nicole, and attempted several times unsuccessfully to reach Paula. He returned home in the early evening, and had several brief sporadic interactions with Kato. At 7:15 he phoned a former Raiders cheerleader, Gretchen Stockdale, and left a message advising that he was at a point in his life where he was "totally, totally free." At about 9:00 he told Kato he was going to McDonald's for a hamburger; Kato asked to come along. They drove to the Santa Monica outlet, and patronized the drive-thru window in the Bentley. O.J. ate his hamburger on the way back, Kato saved his until he was back in his room at the estate. The last time Kato saw O.J. was about 9:40. At that time, O.J.'s bags were not yet on the porch; when Kato next saw the porch, at 10:55, the bags were stacked there to be loaded into the limo. At 10:04 O.J. made another unsuccessful attempt to contact Paula from his cellular phone.

    At about 10:23, limo driver Alan Park arrived early at Simpson's Rockingham Avenue estate for the 10:45 pickup, parked near one of the gates to the estate, and had a cigarette or two. At 10:40 he positioned the limo at one of the gates and tried to raise someone in the house on the intercom -- to no avail. He tried from 10:40 until after 10:50, and consulted with his boss via the car phone how long to wait if there was no answer. Finally, at 10:55 he saw a "shadowy figure," a six-foot tall Afro-American in black clothing go into the house, whereupon the lights in the house went on. Kato seemed to come out of nowhere and passed down the driveway without acknowledging Park. About 30 seconds after the black man went into the house, Simpson came on the intercom, apologized for oversleeping, and remotely opened the gate. Five minutes later, Simpson came out, Simpson, Park, and Kato loaded the limo, and it left for LAX.

    Two miles south, on Bundy Drive, Nicole's dog was observed running loose in the street. He was barking "crazy" and "hysterical" according to reports, and acting in an extremely agitated way. The dog was seen by Nicole's neighbor, Louis Karpf, at about 10:45, and was taken in tow by a man, Steven Schwab, out walking his own dog a few minutes later. Schwab discovered that the dog's feet and legs were covered with blood. He tried to determine the cause of the dog's distress, but was eventually unable to do more than take the dog back to his apartment building. Being unable to keep the dog in his own apartment overnight, he consigned the dog to a neighbor, Sukru Boztepe. After the dog was in Boztepe's apartment for a few minutes, the animal became so agitated that Boztepe and his wife decided to take the dog out on the streets in hope that he would lead them to his home. In that way, they followed the Akita to Nicole's front walk, and after going a few feet up that, Boztepe realized that there was a woman's body at the foot of the steps, and a river of blood issuing from there.

    Boztepe ran to nearby houses to raise an alarm, and from one of them the police were called. Patrolman Riske established about 12:15 that a woman had been murdered there, and a few feet nearby, in an alcove of shrubs, there was the dead body of a second victim -- a young man. Eventually the coroner determined that the female victim was Nicole Brown Simpson, OJ's ex-wife. She had a few knife wounds, but a massive and fatal wound where her throat had been slashed. The man was Ronald Goldman, a Mezzaluna waiter, he had been savagely butchered with a knife on the left side of his head and neck; and he also suffered four deep stab wounds, one of which may have been the immediate cause of death. Both victims bled much, and the scene of their murders was horrific.

THE MEDIA

    By 8:30 on the morning of June 13th, there was an unprecedented media presence at the sites of both the Bundy Drive crime scene and O.J.'s Rockingham estate. Every footfall of the investigators was broadcast, and anyone who lived in the areas and wanted to appear on television had their chance. TV news magazines went to great lengths to interview anyone who claimed to have any information about the crime. File footage documenting O.J.'s career and his life with Nicole was dusted off and presented.

    The Simpson affair was tailor made for the supermarket tabloids; they ate it up: "Nicole Had Six Abortions, Doctor Files Show!" No stone was left unturned. In the earliest reports the tabloids hyped a late-night tryst as Goldman's real errand. Nicole, after all was shoeless and braless; she was wearing only a black cocktail dress and black thong panties when she was killed. But, it was later learned, that was her virtual uniform; no significance to that. The tabloids pointed out that her living room at the time was illuminated by a collection of candles and there was romantic mood music playing on the radio. But, that too was her usual way. Upstairs, a bath had been drawn in the master bathroom and that room was lit by candles, suggesting that a pending romantic interlude was unlikely -- unless it was the preparation for a kinky hydro-sex session. It was soon discovered that there was an innocent cause for Goldman's visit -- Nicole's mother's eyeglasses had been discovered at the restaurant, and he was bringing them to Nicole according to pre-arrangement in a telephone conversation earlier in the evening. As hard as the tabloids tried to make a romantic connection, interviews with a dozen of Nicole's closest friends were unwavering in doubting any such link. The tabloids turned to other sensational speculation.

    Among the scenes shown that first day, was footage showing O.J. after he had returned from Chicago, handcuffed briefly at his estate on Rockingham. O.J. had been met at LAX upon his return by business associates Skip Taft and Kathy Randa. The cops took Simpson in tow, but were disinterested inmost of Simpson's luggage. Long-time friend Robert Kardashian threw into the trunk of his own car the pieces that Simpson did not carry through his gate, and later stored them at his Encino home. During the trial in the spring of 1995 some of this luggage was recovered from O.J.'s estate, and other pieces were recovered from Kardashian's home, where it had apparently been since O.J.'s hasty trip from Chicago, nine months earlier; except for the golf bag, all of it was empty. Efforts to compel Kardashian to explain failed because of his attorney status.

    Immediately after he was told of the tragedy in Brentwood, O.J. began making phone calls to L.A. from Chicago, and continued to keep in touch from the airplane on his way back. Among those he called was attorney Howard Weitzman who initially represented O. J. in the Brown/Goldman murder investigation. Weitzman was waiting at the Rockingham estate when O.J. returned, prevailed upon Det. Vannatter to remove the handcuffs from O.J., and accompanied O.J. on the trip downtown for the police investigation in mid-day. Vannatter testified that Weitzman had advised O.J. against making any statement to police, and when O.J. agreed to be interviewed, Weitzman left in a huff to "go to lunch", leaving O.J. to deal with the police alone. Weitzman has vehemently denied this unflattering portrayal. By Wednesday, June 15th, Weitzman had been replaced by Bob Shapiro as O.J.'s attorney for the matter, and by the August preliminary hearing, Johnny Cochran joined the growing team, and eventually replaced Shapiro as lead counsel.

    As the days progressed, the media made it clear that the police suspected O.J., and were busy building a case against him. Interviews with O.J. by the police were leaked and it was said that when he was confronted by blood stains on the back walk of the Bundy crime scene and inside his Bronco, O.J. at first said that he did not remember how he had cut his hand; later he said that he had cut it on the cell phone in his car, but the police could show that such an explanation was untrue.

    O.J. himself tried to avoid the media and his friends were effective in helping with this. But the camera caught up with O.J. in mid-week at Nicole's funeral, and the sight was awful. Even though he was hiding behind dark glasses, O.J. was very clearly in a state of great distress. His supporters said that this showed the depths of his grief for loosing Nicole; his detractors said that it showed his terror at having been caught in the crime. Everything was ambiguous. Later it was reported that at the funeral Nicole's mother asked O.J. whether he had murdered her daughter, and he is reported to have said, "I loved her too
much." The supporters said this was an expression of how impossible was the thought; his detractors said that he was so possessive that he could not let any other man have her, and killed her rather than permit such an eventuality. The only thing that was not ambiguous was the fact that he was greatly distraught.

    The public, following the media, began to polarize into two camps. Eventually, a quarter of Afro-Americans said they believed O.J. guilty of the murders, three-quarters of Caucasians believed him guilty. The argument of those who believed him innocent was that the LAPD had a long history of abusing Afro-Americans, and would not be above fabricating evidence. But the amount of evidence was huge and the circumstances of its collection and processing was varied. Advocates of guilt were similarly unconcerned by the evidence of the crime. Common reasons for believing O.J. guilty were, "He has shifty eyes," "I can read his body language," and "He beat her up five years earlier; he's the type that could do murder."

    The media frenzy that started on Monday morning continued until the incredible events that began at mid-day Friday. By that time, serological tests on blood drops collected at the Bundy crime scene came in, and together with initial descriptions of the drops showed that O.J. had been at the crime scene. On the strength of this, the LAPD filed a case against him with the D.A. An arrest warrant was prepared, and O.J.'s attorney was advised to surrender him when the police would show up in early afternoon. At the time, O.J. and his friend A.C. Cowlings were at Kardashian's home in Encino. When the police arrived, O.J. and Cowlings had fled in Cowlings' Bronco.

    The highest ranking public spokesman for the LAPD went on television to announce that O.J. was a fugitive being sought by all law enforcement agencies. The District Attorney, Gill Garceti, spoke on television threatening, through clenched teeth, the direst consequences for anyone that might aid him escape justice. At a 5:00 pm press conference at Kardashian's home, Kardashian read a "farewell note" that O.J. had written there before fleeing. It was sentimental and morose, and proclaimed his innocence. It also contained a pleading paragraph in which he begged the media to leave his children and his family alone. This was a little odd, because the family had in fact escaped the brunt of the media scrutiny in the previous week. But, the exercise did allow O.J. to broadcast the plea, "Please, please, leave my children alone." Was he really addressing the media, or someone else who would hear? Every word of the "farewell note" was analyzed by the media, but at the end little more could be said than that it was written by a distraught man.

    Just before 7:00 o'clock, with about an hour of daylight remaining in Los Angeles, the media caught sight of Cowlings' Bronco, and intercepted a cellular call from Cowlings to the police in which he advised that O.J. was in the back with a gun to his head. Los Angeles radio stations crackled with the news. Even though it was doubtful that the radio in Cowlings' Bronco was turned on, famous sports broadcasters were patched through from their homes to the transmitters to issue desperate pleas, "O.J., don't do it!" All regular television programming was dropped; every media helicopter in Southern California was in the air. Ground camera units were hurriedly positioned to catch a fleeting glimpse of Cowlings' passage in the fading afternoon sunlight. Throngs from nowhere suddenly flocked to the freeway margins and overpasses to wave and encourage Cowlings in what was immediately described as the "low speed chase."

    The event was of unprecedented popular interest in current times. Since World War II, only the first steps of a man on the moon, even came close to capturing the television audience of this event. For a spontaneous event, it was absolutely unprecedented in its coverage. At one point, the Channel 7 helicopter had to break away for refueling and the station had to broadcast a feed from a competitor's helicopter. This resulted in the unimaginable situation in which Channel 7 viewers saw the Cannel 5 logo in the lower right corner of the picture.

    Dozens of police cars followed him from the first sighting in Orange County, near Nicole's grave site, up through the web of the freeway system into Los Angeles County, west to the 405 freeway, and north to Brentwood. It was uncertain whether he was headed to his own home, or to the site of Nicole's murder. Only when Cowlings' Bronco passed the Wilshire off-ramp and continued to Sunset was his intention clear.

    Westward on Sunset Boulevard, where others had gathered in the twilight to watch the incomprehensible odyssey, several miles yet to Rockingham. The way was filled with cars and cheering people; from a half mile ahead and 10 yards behind Cowlings' Bronco the road was impassable. But, like Moses crossing the Red Sea, wherever Cowlings drove the path ahead was clear. All the way to Rockingham, and up that, right into O.J.'s driveway. Before Cowlings had turned off the engine, though, scores of waiting police had closed in behind. The trip was over. There began, then, an hour long process in the gloom, and beneath the roar of half a dozen news helicopters, of negotiating with O.J.-- still armed in the back of the Bronco -- over a cellular telephone. But at the end, he stumbled into the house and was arrested, and after a few minutes to refresh himself, was taken downtown, and booked for the murders of Nicole and Ron.

    Bail for the offense was unlikely, but after the flight it was impossible. O.J. stayed in jail until and during the trial. After the low speed chase, Cowlings' Bronco was searched, and inside was found a handgun, $8,000 in cash and O.J.'s passport. The implication of intended flight would be obvious for a lesser well known person, but it is hard to imagine any clear thinking person believing that one as well known as O.J. Simpson could long avoid detection.

    O.J. was arraigned shortly after his arrest, and entered his plea: Absolutely, 100% Not Guilty.

    Since the event, the Brown family has become the darlings of the Cause Crowd, championing the season's favorite: Spousal Abuse. A foundation was established and Nicole's sister, Denise, developed many new and politically correct friends while touring for the cause. Denise has also cruised the TV magazine circuit, and in one such appearance told Diane Sawyer defensively that at some period before the crimes "everybody" had used cocaine. However, no such indication was found in either victim at the time of autopsy.

    history_small.jpg (3468 bytes)Also on the TV magazine circuit was an author-friend of Kato Kaelin who revealed to Barbara Walters a conversation he had had with Kato. Contrary to Kato's trial testimony, the author claimed that Kato told him that at the time the limo for LAX was being loaded, O.J. was trembling uncontrollably. Another member of this parade of tell-for-cash witnesses was Jill Shively who claims she was driving at Bundy and San Vicente at 10:39 on the night of the crimes when she saw O.J. in his white Bronco with the headlights out frantically trying to get thru the intersection on a path from Nicole's condo toward his home. Because she had taken money for her story, she was never invited to testify at the trial. In lawyerland, taking money for your story is an exclamation mark; for the rest of us, it's a question mark.

    In September, KNBC reporter Tracie Savage reported that DNA tests on the socks from O.J's bedroom were positive for Nicole's DNA. Judge Ito had been fuming since the start about news leaks, and now exploded, declaring that the non-stop media circus that had started on the morning of June 13th would end. He 1) denounced the reporter from the bench and solicited public declarations from the attorneys that the report was false, 2) subpoenaed the reporter and her bosses to be grilled by him, 3) ordered that further test results be submitted to the court, and 4) when all else failed submitted to blackmail (he gave an exclusive biographical interview in the late fall to KCBS.) Whatever he did, the feeding frenzy was instantly over. Serious and responsible reporting continued, but the race to scoop other reporters with early and sensational stories ended. (Later, the defense made an issue of the Savage report, claiming that it showed that someone in the LAPD knew before the DNA test was done what it would show, and knew that because they had planted Nicole's blood on the socks. Most people chose to believe that the report was actually based on serological tests -- which had been done by then -- but were misunderstood by the reporter or her informant to have been DNA tests, which had not been done at the time of the report.)

    In her book, Faye Resnick has several things to say that are of interest here. 1) Although witnesses in the trial have alluded to the fact that she stayed as Nicole's house guest from June 3rd to June 8th, Faye herself is vague on the subject, and the only references she makes to the issue contradict the houseguest testimony. 2) Her diaries for the period were stolen. While she attributes this to O.J. or Shapiro's agents, all she can say for sure is that they were missing after a burglary. 3) She had spoken to Nicole at 9:00 p.m. on the night of the murder -- a conversation that would have contained valuable last-minute status information if relayed to any plotters of the crime. 4) At the outset of the "houseguest" period, Nicole had wanted to give Faye keys to the condo, but they were missing from the drawer in the living room table where the spare set was kept. Again, she believes O.J. had stolen them, but is only speculating. Ordinarily, there were four sets: Nicole's; a set for the maid, Elvie; a set given to Nicole's long-time friend, Cora Fishman; and a spare set. The anecdote in her book both acknowledges the missing set and denies responsibility for them, but the incident occurred during a time when Faye was influenced by cocaine, and even if she were trying to be honest, we can not be sure of what the truth is regarding the destiny of the fourth set of keys.

THE PRELIMINARY HEARING

    In Los Angeles County, most criminal indictments are returned by the grand jury; but, an alternative is allowed, a preliminary hearing. The latter is a public forum, and after the astonishing amount of public notice that the matter had received, any other method of proceeding was unthinkable. The hearing was held a month or two after the crime and provided only the outline of the prosecution's case. They merely had to show reasonable cause to hold O.J. for trial, and the information they had at that point seemed enough.

    The presentation began two weeks after the murders with revelation of the New Year's 1989 beating and Nicole's 1993 call to 911. Then came the story of the barking dog; apparently the Akita's discovery of the crime caused it to begin barking at 10:15 or 10:20, thus setting the latest time for the crime. Then came a description of the crime scene: bloody footprints led from Nicole's body down the north walkway to the alley behind the condo. Beside that gruesome path was a trail of five blood drops. Serological tests showed the trail of drops matched O.J's type, but could not have come from either of the victims. In fact, they could have only come from one person in 200 in the general population, and O.J. was one of that select number. DNA tests were yet to come.

    Testimony also established that O.J. had a fresh wound on the middle finger of his left hand, a wound he variously described as receiving on the cell phone in his car and on the shards of a broken drinking glass in his Chicago hotel room. Hairs found in the blue knit cap at the crime scene were identified as having come from O.J.'s head. A bloody right hand glove found behind O.J.'s garage the morning after the crime was identified as the mate to a left hand glove found at the crime scene. Serological tests of the blood in O.J.'s Bronco showed that it came both from O.J. and from Nicole. (Later, more sensitive DNA tests would show Goldman's blood in the Bronco, as well.)

    The coroner described the wounds to the victims in great detail, but this testimony was later largely superseded in the trial by his boss who studied the matter in much greater detail and produced a
somewhat different version, but one which was nonetheless consistent with the prosecution's story.

    Two matters were discussed in the preliminary hearing that were not later discussed in the trial. In the first of these, several witnesses were presented who testified that in the first week of May (about a week before O.J. broke up with Nicole) he bought a simulated-bone handled knife with a manually locking blade six inches long and 3/4" wide at Ross Cutlery in downtown Los Angeles. The blade characteristics of the knife matched the wounds on the victims. Even though the coroner testimony changed greatly in many details, that detail did not change. Even today, coroner testimony (corroborated by Doug Diedrick of the FBI) holds that the murder weapon had the same characteristics as the knife O.J. bought at Ross Cutlery. The occasion for the visit to the knife store was its proximity to a location shoot for a movie, "Frogmen," in which O.J. was to appear. O.J. had traveled to Puerto Rico earlier in the year for other shooting on that film.

    The other issue at the hearing not mentioned at the trial was Nicole's "farewell note". This was a handwritten note attached to videotape cassettes she was returning to O.J. -- one was of their marriage, and the other was a tribute to O.J. The note described Nicole's reasons for returning them, and concluded, "O.J. If I ever call it will only be in an emergency. Please return these calls immediately." On the telephone in her kitchen was a speed dialer with O.J.'s number pre-programmed, giving her the resource to quickly do just that.

    Another incident that occurred at the preliminary hearing was the introduction of the "mystery envelope." This was a large manila envelope which the judge waved before the cameras, explaining that the defense had arranged for a special master to recover an item and have it tested, then delivered the item and the test results to the court where it was to be kept under seal. Apparently, the defense had done this quietly, and had wanted to conceal the materials from the prosecutors for use in a later ambush, and had chosen the submission under seal strategy to accomplish such a result. They were, therefore, quite horrified when the judge waved the sealed envelope before the world. Leaks to the press occurring much later suggest that the envelope contains the knife that O.J. bought at Ross Cutlery (which the special master was able to find in O.J.'s medicine cabinet after excruciatingly detailed searches of his house by the police had missed it.) The report is believed to indicate that sensitive tests were unable to detect any trace of human blood on the knife. Thus, the mystery envelope was intended to be produced at the trial when the prosecution introduced the evidence of O.J.'s knife purchase. But the premature revelation of the envelope tipped off the prosecution, and the issue of Ross Cutlery never surfaced in the trial.

    As a result of the preliminary hearing, O.J. Simpson was held for trial to answer for two counts of first degree murder. Although it was a case in which the District Attorney could assert special circumstances, it was decided that O.J's previous good record indicated that it was not appropriate for the D.A. to seek the death penalty.

Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (rev. 2/05/02) "pop.txt"

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