An interesting e-mail came from a formerly unknown source: an LA man named Mario Nitrini. He makes a lot of claims about things that have happened to him because of the Simpson case, but I will spare you, since they are not germane to my purpose. And, frankly, some of them are so extreme they undermine his credibility. Nonetheless, he is mentioned in a column by LA Times' Bill Boyarsky, and he has consulted with Bosco, so he has better credentials as a Simpson case groupie than most of the AFOJS crowd.

    The claim he makes that interests me here is that in the fall of 1993, he had a friend named Rocky Bateman who was a limo driver, employed by Town & Country Limo Service. Rocky was OJ Simpson's regular driver at that time, contrary to the impression (but not the actual words) of T&C owner Dale St. John in the civil trial. Mario claims that St. John's testimony was a "lie" made to cover up some evil deed, but as I read St. John's testimony, I think the man spoke the literal truth, but in a misleading way to make himself seem more important than he was, and to shelter others (particularly Rocky) from testifying.

    According to Mario, Rocky was driving Nicole and her girlfriends to the airport in October of 1993 when he overheard them conspire that they "knew a way to get OJ's money." This troubled Rocky to hear, and he told Simpson the next time he saw him. Simpson was alarmed at the report, and asked Rocky if he, or anybody he knew, could follow Nicole, and determine who her friends were. (This sounds somewhat like Wasz' first chore for Kardashian three months later.) Rocky asked Mario if he would like the job, but both men turned it down, and presumably Simpson went elsewhere for information about what Nicole did when she was not with him. All of this paragraph is according to Mario.

    Regardless of what one might think of Mario Nitrini, personally, this story has an intriguing fit with other circumstances of the time. (A connection that I realized myself, and Mario did not point out.) There is a somewhat different incident -- but similar in some ways -- between a limo driver and Nicole/Faye, also in October, 1993, reported on p. 118 of Resnick's book. And Nicole's infamous 911 call, in which OJ rages in the background about Nicole's friends was on October 25th of the same year. So, I think that Mario may make an interesting contribution with this anecdote, which he swears is true.

   limo_06.jpg (52822 bytes) Also, in this Simpson case, already so full of coincidences, it always seemed odd to me that -- if you believe the implications from St. John -- he, himself, always drove OJ, but on this one, particularly fateful night, he got somebody else to do it. Now, if Mario is right, the regular driver was Rocky, not St. John, but it is still peculiar that on this particular night, Simpson's regular driver was not on hand. And furthermore, this must have been realized by Simpson himself, but no mention of the fact in his defense. It almost seems as if nobody wanted the attorneys to examine Simpson's regular limo driver in court, and so they just kept mum about his identity. (Mario says that shortly after the crime, Rocky decided that he would rather live in Oklahoma, and moved there.)

    DISPOSING OF EVIDENCE: But, even if all of the foregoing is true, it does little more than confirm what was already known: there was a lot of obfuscation and misrepresentation in the Simpson trials. It does not help us to better understand what actually did happen on that fateful Sunday night.

    You will recall the matter of the mysterious "book bag." When the limo was being loaded at Rockingham, this was an object which was in the shadows, away from the other luggage, and Simpson insisted on loading it himself -- into the passenger compartment in which he would ride, not into the trunk. Both Kato and the limo driver Allen Park attested to this, and it was widely suspected that the bag contained the missing evidence -- the Bruno Magli shoes, at least, and the bloody clothing that Simpson had worn and the murder knife, if you think that Simpson was the killer. But, that book bag was never later seen. Some have speculated that he put it into another bag as he drove, took it with him to Chicago, brought it back, it fell into the custody of Kardashian, and that friend disposed of the evidence. Others say that Simpson dumped the book bag in a trash receptacle in the airport. My own theory has been that Simpson flung the book bag from the open (according to Park's testimony) limo window on the freeway, where it was seen and recovered by a poor immigrant out driving that night who thought he could make a quick buck from whatever was hurled from a fancy limousine. That passer-by stopped, backed up, and dashed onto the lightly traveled freeway in the middle of the night to recover it, I have believed.

    In our earliest conversations, Mario offered me an outrageous idea about this -- one he is convinced is true. He said that Simpson hid the book bag in a "secret compartment" in the limo, it was not seen by Park (who was not familiar with the subtleties of the car), and it was recovered and disposed of by Rocky the next day after the limo was back in Town & Country's custody.

    But, in a phone call the other day, I asked Mario some questions about this. (Up till now, I have just let him talk.) I told him that his idea that Simpson hid the book bag in a "secret compartment" in the limo and that Rocky recovered it and disposed of it a day or two later, sounded like a "B" movie from the thirties, and a poor one at that. "Tell me more, Mario, what secret compartment'?" He said that in November '93, at a wedding for somebody in his family, Mario had seen this limo, and been inside it. Rocky, it turns out, is a relative (two levels of in-law) of Mario's and Rocky had brought the limo to the wedding to drive the happy couple. At the time (no longer) Mario and Rocky were buddies, and Rocky gave Mario a tour of the limo interior.

.    In the passenger compartment in back, as the passenger sits facing forward, he is facing "things," (Mario could not be specific, but I take it to be TV, stereo, bar, etc.) and closed cabinets. The cabinets at floor level are big enough for a book bag, Mario says, and after such a thing is put in there, the door can be closed. (Who knew?) If the limo driver subsequently scans the interior at the destination to make sure that nothing is left behind, he will not see the book bag in the cabinet. (As often, Mario has made a reasonable thing <"cabinet"> sound unbelievable by calling it something sensational <"secret compartment">.)

    Now, I am beginning to think Mario may make some sense with his explanation of what became of the book bag. I may reconsider my idea that Simpson threw it onto the freeway from the speeding limo. I'm not sure that Mario's idea isn't better, though it is not essential to its substance that Rocky recovered and disposed of the book bag; St. John or someone else could have done that.

    Also, Mario says that St. John sold that particular limo weeks (a couple of months at most) after the Bundy murders. Fascinating.

Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (1/12/01) NG_706a rev. 4/23/01

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