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Simpson Murder Case : Transcript of Ruling Denying Motion to Suppress Evidence

July 08, 1994

Statement by Municipal Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell, who on Thursday denied a defense motion to suppress evidence found by police who entered O.J. Simpson's estate without a search warrant. The transcript is from CNN-Journal Graphics.

First of all, before announcing the ruling with regard to the 1538.5 motion, I'd just like to say both attorneys, both sides in this case, did an excellent presentation--for which the court is grateful--and you both gave me quite a bit to think about during the last several hours.

The key issue for the court's determination is whether the warrantless entry into the property on Rockingham and the recovery of certain items of physical evidence was justified in light of exigent circumstances. And there's--this is really a gray area of the law. I mean, there's no set formula to establish when an exigent circumstance does exist and when it doesn't, and it's really something that has to be decided on a case-by-case basis, based upon the evidence that's actually presented in the hearing.

There were numerous cases cited by the prosecution as well as by the defense. The court has reviewed all of those cases. The court also found an additional case that I did not see cited by either the prosecution or the defense, which--although not identical to the circumstances in this case--is more similar than most of the other cases, and that case is People v. Cain . . . a case decided in December of 1989.

In that particular matter, the situation was that there was a woman who had been beaten and raped in a certain apartment. The officers went to that location, observed her. Through the common wall, they could hear music coming from the next apartment over and could see that lights were on, and it was early in the morning.

The officers knocked on the door, received no answer and made a determination in their own minds that they felt that there could indeed be an additional victim in the adjacent apartment. The door was unlocked and they entered that apartment. They later found the defendant passed out on the floor intoxicated and recovered physical evidence including bloodstains and clothing that eventually tied that particular defendant to the crime for which he was later convicted.

The court upheld the warrantless entry into that apartment, and the language in that case the court finds particularly helpful in this particular matter. The court indicates that due weight must be given, not to the un-particularized suspicions or hunches of the police officers involved, but to the reasonable inference which he, or she, is entitled to withdraw from the facts in light of his or her experience.

Additionally, that court places a limitation, which other courts indeed have recognized . . . that the search involved must be strictly circumscribed by the exigencies which justify its initiation. Let's consider the evidence in this case--and basically, the evidence that was presented in this matter is for the most part un-controverted with regard to the search.

We know from the evidence that was presented that the detectives in this matter, Vannatter, Fuhrman, Lange and Phillips, I believe, started out at the crime scene on Bundy. They made the observations of the two dead bodies, the blood, the glove, the footprints and the droplets of blood leading away from that location. There's no dispute as to what they saw there at Bundy.

There's also no dispute that there were two small children who apparently were asleep inside that particular location at the time of the incident itself, and that those small children were taken to the police station. Notwithstanding suggestions to the contrary during cross-examination, the place for two small children whose mother has been murdered is not at the police station sitting in a corner drawing pictures on a tablet. The place for those kids is with their family.

The detectives testified that they were concerned about those children and wanted to make arrangements with regard to those children. The person who is the next of kin to those children is the defendant. He's their father. He's the person that logically would be the one that would be called upon to take action, to take custody of those children. So I don't find anything improper--in terms of the police conduct--with the idea that they are going to go to the Simpson home.

One might say, "Well, why didn't they just call?" Well, apparently they didn't have the phone number to the Simpson home. We learned that through the testimony--that they had to get Westec Security to come actually out to the location to try to get that phone number.

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