THE ROCKINGHAM LAYOUT
In previous articles, I have described the Simpson interview videotape and given captures from that which show glimpses of the interior and exterior of Simpson's estate. (See "The Simpson Interview Tape," "Simpson's Back Walkway," and "The Gates at Rockingham" on our site, http://wagnerandson.com .) The numbering of figures in those three article continues with this fourth installment in the series of four, at Figure 26. The subject here is the development of the most accurate possible layout of the estate, and draws on whatever other sources we could find, as well as the interview tape.
PROSECUTION VERSION: We began our analysis of the Rockingham layout with the prosecution exhibit, which is shown here as the top of Figure 26 [2ROCKHAM.JPG]. Having driven by Simpson's estate myself (360 N. Rockingham Ave. in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, CA 90049), I immediately realized that the depiction of Rockingham as narrower than Ashford was wrong; the opposite is the case. Also, I was disturbed by the omission of the streetlight, whose place could easily have been shown, since the significant events had been at nighttime, and the illumination was important in understanding the possibilities. The prosecution depicted a notch on the north side of the Rockingham driveway, about long enough for a single car, but it was reported that on the murder night Simpson's daughter Arnelle came home late and parked behind the Bentley; no room for that in the prosecution's diagram. A careful viewing of the Simpson interview tape showed details different than the prosecution diagram along the spooky south walkway, and aerial photographs showed that the looping Ashford walkway on the courtroom drawing is actually pretty much straight.
I undertook to reconcile all of the available sources of information and construct the best true plot of the grounds, and floor plan of the house that I could. That is shown in the lower part of Figure 26, where artifacts of the trial (Bronco, blood drops, etc.) are superimposed. The interior floor plan of Figure 26b is close to the fact, but some small details are better depicted in a later drawing of the interior only.
EVOLUTION OF THE DESIGN: In the fall of 1994, a pre-trial hearing was held on the defense objection to the introduction of evidence gathered at Rockingham. Although the admissibility of this had been judged and upheld in the preliminary hearing, the defense believed that later events warranted another look (there had been later visits by the authorities). Simpson's housekeeper, Gigi Guarin, was brought to explain who had visited, under what circumstances, where they went, and what, if anything, they took away -- as far as she had seen. To facilitate this discussion, defense attorney Johnny Cochran presented exhibits which he purported to be "architect prepared drawings" of the estate plot plan and the floor plans of the first and second floor. (See Figure27 [1FLR_03.JPG].)
These certainly looked like authentic architect drawings. They were wrinkled as drawings get when the are frequently rolled and unrolled, and they used the symbols and conformed to the style and standards of architect drawings. At the outset, we took them to be the gold standard definition of the house at the time of the crimes, but as we worked with them, we began to notice small differences from photographs taken in the weeks after the crime. We particularly noticed 1) small departures in the driveway and paths, 2) the landscaping in June 1994 was not as shown on the drawings, and 3) small differences in the area of the kitchen/foyer interface occur. Also, in its furnished condition the living room (and perhaps some other places) have non-load bearing partitions that do not show up on the drawings. So, we finally considered that Cochran's exhibits were a good representation, but not quite exact. An example of these drawings is shown in Figure 28 [1FLR_07.JPG].
(We also notice that during the preliminary hearing, the prosecution used a different plot plan, to which Kato and Park testified. This was very crude -- more a sketch than a drawing -- and did not show any interior details of the house or the landscaping. However, it more accurately portrayed the position and shape of the walks and driveways, and was probably constructed from actual observations, rather than having the professional imprimatur of being an "architect" drawing. In particular, this early prosecution diagram did not contain the erroneous vehicle niche in the Rockingham driveway. Once the prosecutors got sight of the "official" defense plot plan, they adopted it on the lawyer theory that a good sounding pedigree -- "architect drawing," in this case -- is more importnat than what your own eyes show you.)
A second epoch for which there is documentary indication is in the days and weeks after the crimes. Most of the aerial views and all of the evidentiary photographs show the situation in this time period. Figure 29 [2ESTATES.JPG] is representative, and shows Simpson's estate, and the Salingers' (Wolfgang & Marta) next door to the south from the air; the perspective is from the north west. The forested division between the properties can be seen, and also Simpson's drive and the children's play yard in front are well depicted. One can see that in the front yard, the trees are considerably denser near the Ashford gate, and sparser near the Rockingham gate, than the prosecution exhibit shows. This photograph also illustrates that there is a break in the roof line of the breakfast nook. That will have some significance when we discuss the kitchen interior.
(Simpson occasionally mentioned that "Mrs. Nebeker" lived across the street. Upon consulting a Westside phone book for the fall of 1994, we discovered an entry for "NEBEKER EUGENE A, 400 N ROCKINGHAM AVE, LOS ANGELES, CA, 90049-2638". So, apparently Mrs. Nebeker lived across Ashford, not Rockingham, from Simpson. Interestingly, like Simpson's home, the residence at 400 N. Rockingham has also been demolished and rebuilt since 1997.)
Although the architectural drawings, and the prosecution exhibit based on them, give no hint, the aerial photographs show that there were several trees on the inside of the Rockingham wall between the Bronco's parking position and the streetlight at Ashford. I saw when I was there after dark that these trees blocked the Bronco location from being directly illuminated by the streetlight. In another example, the observations of Figures 2, 3, and 4 in "View from the Rockingham Gate" are photographs taken across Simpson's front yard, and the view there is incompatible with the landscaping shown in the courtroom drawings. In our analysis we have concluded that the architectural drawings were valid at some time considerably before 1994, but by the time of the crimes were out of date. Nonetheless, these drawings were used as the basis for nearly all of the court presentations, on both sides. Jurors could be forgiven if they wondered how two cars could have been parked in the driveway niche big enough for only one, and if they had difficulty visualizing other details of the attorneys tales.
The third epoch was December 1995, when Simpson produced his interview video. As far as we could tell, the house and grounds had not changed much since the time of the crimes, except that the gardeners had scalped the eugenia hedge along the back walk.
After Simpson lost the civil case in January of 1997 the furnishings were removed from the Rockingham house, and the house was refurbished for sale to a new buyer. The pictures here of the wet bar and the living room depict the situation during the refurbishing.
The final public images of the house and grounds were those shown on a Good Morning America program when the house had been remodeled and was up for sale (late 1997). Interior partitions had been removed and some small changes to the buildings had been made. Kitchen cabinets had been redone, for example, and skylights had been added in Kato's bungalow. Photographs herein of that time period show the ABC logo in the lower left. (The quarter million dollar remodeling was a wasted effort. The new buyer -- investment banker Kenneth Abdalla -- paid nearly $4 million dollars for it, had it demolished, and built a new house in its place. A pretty pricey neighborhood when the lot alone is worth more than most people make in a lifetime.)
FOYER AND VICINITY: Immediately as one came in the front door, he was in a foyer. Figure 30 [FOYER1.JPG] is taken from in the foyer looking at the inside of the ornate glass paneled front door. To the left is a door to a small coat closet, and to the right is a small bathroom, the door jamb of which just appears in the figure. The three small blood drops (evidence item #12) were found about in line with the light switches in the middle of the picture, and a couple of feet from the wall. The intercom, with which to communicate with the gate, is on the south wall just to the left of the bathroom door.
If you turned around in the position you were in to see Figure 30, you would be looking into the interior of the house, and you would see the scene of Figure 31 [!INT13.JPG], which like the previous picture is from the interview tape. You are looking down a long corridor that finally ends in the family room. Immediately on the left is the winding stairway to the second floor, and just beyond that is the door to an office. Because there are two or three areas in the house that have been referred to as "office," we have called this the "front office." Looking to the right of the office door, there is a little piece of wall, and then the corridor. On the left of the corridor, and out of sight here, is the living room, which at this time was divided into two parts by a north-south partition. At the far end of the living room, near French doors to the backyard, was Eunice Simpson's piano, which made the news briefly when the civil trial victors tried to confiscate it as part of OJ's estate.
Among the rumored incidents of Simpson's abuse of Nicole, there was one during the early years when he reportedly "locked her in the wine cellar," presumably in the Rockingham house since Simpson was living there when he first met Nicole. But, there is no such wine cellar indicated on any floor plan or photograph that we have seen. However, a wine cellar requires steps to get down into, and the only place there could be down-going steps that do not show up on the first-floor plan is under the up-going winding staircase to the second floor. We looked on the floor plan at the place where the top of such cellar steps would be and we found an unidentified closet at the back of the front office. There appears to be sufficient head height there -- about 8 feet -- and so we believe that to get to the stairs down to the wine cellar one would go into the office, go completely through that to the (apparent) closet at the back, and upon going through the "closet door" would find himself at the head of a stair well, and facing to the east.
Near the center of Figure 31 is the doorway to the family room, and at the far end of that is dimly seen the oriel (bay window). As the gaze moves to the right, one sees the double doors to the formal dining room, and then even farther right, near the foreground, is the kitchen door.
The arrangement near the front door is shown from the outside in Figure 32 [OFFICWIN.JPG] from Good Morning America. The foyer door is recessed slightly in the front wall, and there are small windows on either side of it. The window on the right is in the small bathroom off the foyer, and the window on the left is at the back of the tiny coat closet. Farther to the left are the large leaded glass windows of the front office, and farther to the right of the bathroom window are the kitchen windows over the sink, and the kitchen doors. The garage is on the extreme right in this picture taken from the Rockingham driveway.
The foyer is shown in a unique perspective in Figure 33 [STAIRS1M.JPG, (Good Morning America)]. Here we are looking down over the second floor railing at the foyer floor. The curving stairway is seen, together with the chandelier hanging in the center of the two-story tall space. (Simpson mentioned this in the video when he was trying to explain why Park may have thought he saw "the lights go on in the house." Even with this picture, the claim is unpersuasive.)
LIVING SPACE: After one progresses down the main corridor past the office door, the left hand wall is open again, and now to the long living room, which has a couple of fireplaces on the far (north) wall. Going down to the fireplace and looking east toward the back yard, one could see the scene of Figure 34 [LIV_ROOM.JPG], as it looked during remodeling with furniture and partitions removed. Here the space to the French doors and back yard is unobstructed. On the extreme right a workman is seen, passing the doors to the dining room. Behind him (to the left of his position in the picture) is the narrow door at the end of the long corridor, leading into the family room.
Moving to the center of the living room and looking to the right from the previous picture, one would see Figure 35 [DINEROOM.JPG, (Good Morning America)]. The small doorway into the family room is in about the middle of the picture, and the wide doors into the dining room are on the right. Barely visible at the very back of the dining room is the right end of the glass wall behind the wet bar. Along the left wall of the dining room there is a bright vertical streak. That is approximately where the Heiseman Trophy display case was located.
I have mentioned the door from the long corridor into the family room several times, and now we will walk through that door and turn to the right to see Figure 36 [!INT11.JPG] (interview tape). On the left side of the picture is the entertainment center -- big screen TV, theater quality stereo, and a couple of smaller individual television sets up near the ceiling. Out of the picture to the left is the oriel. This picture was taken in December, so there is a Christmas tree to the right of the entertainment center. To the right of that are French doors to the back yard and pool. It was through the farthest of these doors ("D") that Arnelle brought the detectives into the house. To the right of the doors is the step-down pool/trophy room, and the corner of the pool table is just visible. Moving even farther to the right, one is again at the level of the main house, and the wet bar is at the extreme right edge of the picture, the backs of several armless chairs, facing the bar counter, can be seen.
The pool/trophy room is seen in more detail in Figure 37 [MC_POOL.JPG], from Marcia Clark's book, showing the situation in the era just after the crimes. The floor here is down two steps from the main house. At the back left of the pool room is seen an open door (also "O" on Figure 36); this connects to the back office in the bungalow complex, and after going through that finally comes to Kato's room. It was back along this path that Det. Fuhrman escorted Kato on the morning after the murders. Just to the right of this picture is the wet bar, and that is the place where Fuhrman deposited Kato before continuing into the breakfast nook to confer with the other detectives.
The back of the bar is seen in Figure 38 [WETBAR.JPG]. This is the view looking east from the back bar entry, which is from the dining room (even though the front of the bar is on the family room). The view through the French doors at the end of the room is the back yard in the vicinity of the pool, and the rightmost of those doors is the "detectives door." This is the view after the furnishings had been stripped, so the shelves in front of the blue glass wall are bare. That blue glass is actually an external leaded window, with the utility area of the south walk on the other side. So, during the daytime (as in this picture) it is illuminated by sunlight.
KITCHEN: Figure 39 [KITCHEN1.JPG from E!] shows the kitchen as it was when Simpson lived there. A sink and windows onto the Rockingham driveway are at the far left side of the picture. There is an island in the middle, and a range and oven at the far end. At the extreme right is a door into the foyer. Out of the picture to the left is the annex projecting into the driveway that contains the breakfast nook, and at the end of that, the kitchen doors. Out of the picture to the right is the doorway into the dining room.
The kitchen is also shown in Figure 40 [KITCHEN2.JPG, Good Morning America], after remodeling. This is from a perspective to the right of the previous picture, and one can see through the door into the foyer. To the right of that door is an open door to a small pantry. It is useful to notice the flooring, since that occurs in the next photo, and serves to tie the two together.
Figure 41 [OFF_KTCH.JPG] is from Fuhrman's book, and shows a police negotiator talking to Simpson by phone during the low-speed chase from Simpson's own kitchen. He is standing at the opposite end of the kitchen from the foyer door, and is in the doorway that leads to the laundry and maid's room. There is a small secretary's niche in the left foreground, and a couple of recesses into the garage wall beyond the doorway. On the far end is seen the sloping roof beyond the break in the roofline pointed out by the arrow in Figure 29. Rattan chairs around the breakfast nook table are seen in the lower right, and the kitchen doors are out of the picture in the upper right.
If one were to go through the doorway that the policeman is blocking in the previous picture, he would come -- after about 10 feet -- to the washing machine, dryer, and the laundry room door to the south walk. Just beyond (and to the left) of the dryer is the maid's room. But, immediately as one goes through this door, there is another door on the right hand wall, going into the garage. A scene in that messy place is shown in Figure 42 [EXHIB134.JPG] from the criminal trial. This is the view from near the garage door, looking back toward the door into the house. Bicycles are strewn against the south wall, there is a glass paned door going to the south walk, and on the right is a red Testarosa automobile (which is shown covered in some of the garage interior pictures). Out of the picture to the left is the door into the house, and in that area is a home gym with equipment, paraphernalia, and wall mounted mirrors.
BACK YARD: Figure 43 [YARD04.JPG] shows the back of the house when it was up for sale. The living room, and the end of the French doors there, are peeking out on the right side of the building. At the right end of the near wall is the oriel, and moving to the left, one sees the French doors to the family room. At the extreme right of the picture is the "detectives door." On the second floor, the balcony on the right, and the French door there, are on the master bedroom. The windows behind a tree to the left are the master bathroom. Extensive paving between the house and the pool is seen in the foreground, and the pool itself is beyond the picture to the right. The tennis court is beyond the pool.
Figure 44 [EXTER'R6.JPG] is an unusual perspective of the back yard; the photographer's back was essentially against the inside of the Ashford wall and the camera was pointed south. The building in the distance is the north side of the bungalows, and the door (marked "K") is Kato's outside door. The roof to the right of this shows the three skylights over the back office. The pool is in the middle distance, and the path to the tennis court passes on the close side of the tree. Toward the upper right, the steps descending from the house level to the pool level are seen.
SECOND FLOOR: The few pictures that we have seen of the second floor do not seem to contradict the architects drawing of that area, and so we have simply rectified the distortions of perspective in the videocapture of the exhibit (a better version of the drawing behind Gigi's head in Figure 27), and present that here as Figure 45 [TOP2.JPG].
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: When all of the foregoing indications are put together, there results the first-floor plan of Figure 46 [RHAM_INT.JPG].
Two notations on that drawing require explanation. A long broken line coming in the front door, proceeding down the main corridor, and turning right in the family room is shown, and is labeled, "Camera's Path." This refers to the interview video in which Simpson was trying to persuade that Park could not have seen the interior lighting condition from his position at the Ashford gate. In this demonstration, the camera begins at the Ashford gate (and the house appears dark), proceeds down the driveway, turns at the porch, and heads for the font door. At that point, the door opens to reveal that the interior is completely and normally lit (but the chandelier is not on). The camera proceeds down the main corridor, following the path indicated in Figure 46 until it reaches the family room.
Figure 31 shows the scene just after the door has been opened and the camera enters the foyer (looking east), and Figure 36 shows the last scene, after the camera has turned into the family room and is pointed south. Substantially, the lights in the back of the house (living room and family room) are on for this demonstration and the lights in the foyer, kitchen, and front office are not on. In Simpson's claimed scenario, that he had been packing and going up and down stairs with luggage, it seems unnatural that the foyer light would be off. In the scenario that we believe, that Park saw him as Simpson first went into the darkened house, and that Simpson then proceeded to the washing machine where he tore off the sweatsuit he had worn to Bundy, the kitchen lights would probably go on immediately after Simpson went into the house, easily causing the effect ("lights went on") that Park saw. So, Simpson's demonstration is unconvincing -- in fact, counter-productive.
Also shown in Figure 46 is a notation of, "Interview Location," in the family room, and a pair of rays reaching out toward the front of the house from there. This is our interpretation of the place in which the sit-down portion of the interview (more than an hour) was conducted. The rays indicate the region seen by the camera. A representative frame of the interview was shown in Figure 2 [INTERVW4.JPG], and is here repeated. It was like a treasure hunt for us to figure where this was photographed, with the clues being the objects in the scene.
Notice that behind Simpson, and to the left of him in the picture, is a counter with drawers below; there are pictures and small plants on this counter, and it appears to separate the place of the interview from another room that has double doors. A sloping stair railing can be seen through those doors. The only stair railing like that in the house is the stairs to the second floor in the foyer, and the only double doors in the main house are the dining room doors. So, we concluded that the room on the other side of the counter is the dining room. Behind Simpson's shoulder and to the right of him in the picture, is an opening in the wall, a doorway in the other direction beyond that, and finally a wall with a picture in the far distance. The opening and the doorway are consistent with the east end of the main corridor, which occurs shortly after the dining room doors. But, the wall with the painting confounded us for a time. It is too close to be the east side of the office wall, and finally we realized that it was a partition in the living room, with a picture on the wall, and some furniture below that.
The one feature that we looked hard for but never could find an indication of, on either photograph or floor plan, was the Jacuzzi. Kato says it is down in the region of the "bridge" across the neck of the pool, but we could not see any indication on the deck in that area. Marcia Clark says that the wall behind the Jacuzzi is decorated, but we could not find anything like that either. There is some round structure within the pool, and it is possible that the Jacuzzi is integrated into the pool, but the indication is rather feeble, and we have not indicated a Jacuzzi in our diagrams.
(A comprehensive tour of Simpson's Rockingham estate -- as it really was.)
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (2/06/03) R_LAYOUT.TXT