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Simpson's Ex-Wife and Her Friend Are Buried : Mourning: Separate services are held. Ex-football star attends Nicole Simpson's funeral with their children.

June 17, 1994|JIM NEWTON and CARLA HALL | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman, slain side by side in a brutal attack that has grabbed the attention of the world, were buried in separate funerals Thursday, with O.J. Simpson, a suspect in the killings, attending the service for his ex-wife.

Simpson's children, 6-year-old Justin and 9-year-old Sydney, arrived and left by their father's side. When an attacker killed their mother outside their Brentwood home Sunday, the children were asleep inside.

In Westlake Village, mourners gathered to grieve for Goldman, 25, a waiter and friend of Nicole Simpson whose body was found a few feet from hers just after midnight Sunday. Goldman's sister, who wept as she eulogized him Thursday, spoke in memory of him, saying: "I don't know if I ever told you how proud I am of the man you have become."

In other developments Thursday:

* Los Angeles police released documents detailing a 1989 beating by Simpson of his wife. The documents, which include the original police reports of the incident, said officers found Nicole Simpson cowering in the bushes, bruised and bloodied and afraid for her life. Prosecutors involved in that case said Simpson, who did not serve jail time, got off too lightly. (Story, A24)

* Detectives interviewed a new witness about her observations on the night of the killings. In an interview with The Times, that witness said that while she was jogging Sunday night, she spotted a car that closely resembles one owned by O.J. Simpson parked across the street from Nicole Simpson's house. She could not tell whether anyone was inside.

* In Los Angeles, police studied clothing, shoes and other items belonging to Simpson--whom police sources have identified as the prime suspect--searching for bloodstains or other clues. Meanwhile, in Chicago, another group of officers hunted for a possible murder weapon in a field near a hotel where Simpson spent a few hours Monday.

* Two nationally acclaimed experts, a pathologist and a forensic scientist hired by Simpson's lawyer, left for Los Angeles to assist in Simpson's defense in the event that he is charged with the slayings.

As investigators continued their review of the physical evidence and their interviews with possible witnesses, families of each victim gathered 20 miles apart for the funerals.

About 200 close friends and family members made their way to Nicole Simpson's funeral at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church on Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood on Thursday morning, under sunny skies and the buzz of media helicopters.

A phalanx of reporters and camera people flanked narrow Saltair Avenue, on the western side of the church grounds, straining for a glimpse of a familiar face in a passing car or a stray quote from a mourner.

Men in dark suits and women in sleek, short-skirted black suits and high heels arrived looking solemn behind sunglasses. A line of luxury cars and trendy trucks snaked up to the iron gate entrance to the parking lot that bristled with private security.

The role of gatekeeper was performed by Al Cowlings, a former football player with Simpson at USC and with the Buffalo Bills. Cowlings waved through familiar cars, briefly questioned some arrivals, and greeted most guests with warm hugs.

A white hearse carrying the light wood casket of Nicole Simpson, covered with a spray of white roses, arrived shortly after 11 a.m., followed by limousines ferrying family members.

O.J. Simpson emerged from one and lingered briefly with other family members outside the side entrance. He held the hands of his two small children--his daughter in a patchwork print dress and his son in pants and jacket and tennis shoes.

Former football players, Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner and former baseball player Steve Garvey were among those attending the Mass, celebrated by the church's Msgr. Lawrence O'Leary. Simpson's lawyers also were in attendance. Reporters were kept out.

"It was beautiful," said Garvey after the service in the church, a mixture of traditional and contemporary. "Msgr. O'Leary gave probably the most poignant and moving homily I've ever heard."

Among the latecomers to the service--who were forced to wait outside the church--was comedian Byron Allen, who said he last saw O.J. and Nicole Simpson together five or six weeks ago at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard. "They were happy, hanging out, having a good time," Allen said. "They sat down at my table for about 10 minutes, had a bite of my salad. . . . I figured they were working it out."

Allen peered at the parked hearse. "It's devastating," he said. "It's really hard to believe."

After the hourlong service, family and friends paused outside the side entrance, surrounding O.J. Simpson, who was dressed in a black suit and wearing sunglasses. Guests embraced.

Simpson's attorney, Robert L. Shapiro, said later that Nicole Simpson's mother had expressed a wish to him at the service. "Mrs. Brown told me: 'Please take good care of him (Simpson). The children need their father.' "

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