Prosecutors and lawyers for O.J. Simpson tangled in court Monday as government attorneys released new test results suggesting that Simpson's blood was found at the murder scene.
Results of one set of DNA tests were presented to the Los Angeles County Grand Jury in June; they indicated that a blood drop containing identical genetic markers to Simpson's was found near the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.
Monday, prosecutors filed a motion in which they disclosed preliminary results of a more discriminating DNA test. Those results echoed the earlier findings.
By day's end, still another motion brought another development. LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman, who has been accused of racism by defense lawyers, filed a declaration for the first time explaining racially charged remarks he made in a 1983 pension case.
In his declaration, Fuhrman said he had never made derogatory remarks about his military colleagues or "any particular ethnic class. These statements attributed to me were misquoted and taken out of context. Any other racially insensitive comments that I may have made to (a city-hired doctor) were in the context of a therapeutic session and were specifically intended to refer to my work with violent gangs and gang members and the emotion that this stressful, dangerous and difficult type of police work engendered in me."
Fuhrman's declaration was filed in connection with a 13-page motion urging Judge Lance A. Ito to deny the defense access to the detective's Marine Corps records. The request violates Fuhrman's right to privacy and would produce material that is so old it would be irrelevant, Fuhrman's lawyer Robert Tourtelot said in the motion.
In court, meanwhile, it became increasingly evident that one of the most crucial and hardest-fought battles during the upcoming trial will be over the reliability and admissibility of DNA test results that could link Simpson to the stabbing deaths.
Defense attorneys sought to show that prosecutors are conducting unnecessary and duplicative tests, using up samples that otherwise could be analyzed by defense experts. Prosecutors responded that they are merely ordering up the tests needed to show conclusively whether Simpson is the source of various bloodstains.
"Is it of value to you to do a number of different tests?" Deputy Dist. Atty. Lisa Kahn asked Gary Sims, a senior criminalist at the California Department of Justice lab in Berkeley.
"Yes," Sims answered, "because that provides additional genetic information to answer the question as to whose blood is where."
Ito, who appeared to grow exasperated at times with the exhaustive defense questioning, is being asked to decide whether some of the samples need to be apportioned, or "split," so that Simpson can have his own experts analyze the DNA evidence. The judge did not make that decision Monday, but is expected to return to the topic this morning.
The discussion of DNA evidence in court Monday was a largely dry scientific debate about splitting samples, and a few of the case's leading lawyers skipped the session. Deputy Dist. Atty. William Hodgman excused himself early, while Simpson lawyer Johnnie L. Cochran missed it altogether--another Cochran client, Rep. Walter Tucker III (D-Compton), was being arraigned across the street on charges that he solicited bribes and then failed to pay taxes on them.
Flanked by half a dozen of his other lawyers, Simpson fidgeted as the session dragged on through the afternoon.
Monday's hearing came amid a flurry of sometimes conflicting reports of what preliminary DNA tests have so far shown. The issue is potentially crucial to the case because DNA test results could form the strongest physical evidence linking Simpson to the murder scene.
According to documents and sources familiar with the case, a blood drop found on Goldman's shoe does not match Simpson's blood, while at least two other samples being tested by Cellmark Diagnostics in Maryland have not yielded conclusive findings.
Those results were received by defense attorneys last week and were good news for Simpson--particularly the finding that his blood is not on Goldman's shoe, because it would have been all but impossible for Simpson's attorneys to explain how their client's blood ended up on the shoe of a murder victim with whom he had no known relationship.
Other preliminary DNA tests, however, have indicated that blood discovered inside Simpson's home and car is consistent with his blood and that blood taken from a trail of droplets leading away from the bodies also matches his.
Some of those results were first reported by The Times in June, before Simpson's preliminary hearing, and those results later were presented to a grand jury that month. At that hearing, a police analyst testified that preliminary DNA tests of blood recovered from Simpson's Ford Bronco, the foyer of his house and the blood trail leading from the bodies all matched Simpson's blood.