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Ito Rejects Defense Bid to Bar Seized Evidence : Simpson case: Ruling defeats efforts to exclude items from defendant's estate, including glove, bloodstains.

October 06, 1994|JIM NEWTON and ANDREA FORD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Returning to the volatile issues of police credibility and the lawfulness of searches, Superior Court Judge Lance A. Ito ruled Wednesday that new questions about whether officers lied on the stand during O.J. Simpson's preliminary hearing cannot be used to suppress evidence they seized.

Ito also upheld the right of investigators to test blood found at Simpson's estate, rejecting an unusual defense argument that police should have secured a separate warrant to justify those tests because they can reveal private information about the person from whom the blood was drawn.

Ito called that argument by Simpson attorney Gerald F. Uelmen "rather interesting and novel," but said he could find no case law to support it.

The rulings Wednesday struck down the latest efforts by Simpson's lawyers to exclude a number of potentially significant items from evidence--including a bloody glove found outside Simpson's house and blood recovered from his driveway. Although Ito's rulings do not guarantee that any of those items will be introduced as evidence, they remove obstacles for prosecutors.

The search that yielded the bloody glove has been contested on several grounds, each time unsuccessfully, and Simpson's lawyers are still moving on one last front, hoping to show that they should be allowed to renew their objections to that search based on allegations that Detective Mark Fuhrman is a racist. For months, Simpson's lawyers have waged an aggressive attack on Fuhrman's credibility and have suggested that he might have planted the glove outside Simpson's home.

On Wednesday, Simpson's attorneys renewed their campaign against Fuhrman, arguing that they had only learned many of the specifics of the detective's alleged racism after the preliminary hearing was over. Because of that, they asked Ito to let them reopen the argument about the initial search of Simpson's estate, during which Fuhrman said he found the bloody glove on a walkway at the back of Simpson's home.

In a sworn declaration obtained by The Times, a lawyer who alerted Simpson's defense team to allegations about Fuhrman said he delivered a copy of a pension file involving the detective July 15, after the preliminary hearing ended. In that file, Fuhrman is quoted making racially inflammatory remarks.

The statement by lawyer Robert Deutsch could help corroborate Simpson attorneys' contention that they became aware of new details about Fuhrman after the preliminary hearing ended, even though the file was in the public record and Deutsch said his initial contact with defense lawyer Robert L. Shapiro's office was July 5, while the hearing was under way.

Ito deferred a ruling on reopening the issue of the search based on questions about Fuhrman's credibility. He is expected to return to it in the coming week, however, because he is trying to resolve the lingering evidentiary issues before jury selection resumes Oct. 12.

In the meantime, Ito rejected the latest defense attempts to discredit the officers who searched Simpson's estate after the discovery of the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.

Simpson has pleaded not guilty to the June 12 murders, and his attorneys maintain that he is the victim of sloppy and overzealous investigators.

In court Wednesday, defense attorney Gerald F. Uelmen said that recently obtained transcripts from a private security company raise questions about the truthfulness of sworn testimony by some officers.

Uelmen read transcripts of calls between Westec Security officials and LAPD officers in which the dispatcher from the private Westec firm said officers were at Simpson's front door and about to force entry when they first called to see whether he was home.

According to the transcripts that Uelmen read, a Westec patrol officer informed a dispatcher at 5:23 a.m. on June 13 that police officers were "at the front door, and they are requesting entrance."

One minute later, that dispatcher, in a conversation with an LAPD sergeant at the West Los Angeles station, said: "I am going to call the residence right now to see if anyone is there because my patrol officer said you guys are there at his front door."

Sgt. David Rossi of the LAPD responded: "Yeah, we are."

If true, that could contradict testimony that the police only entered the property after first trying to reach Simpson over the phone. During the preliminary hearing, officers said they had repeatedly tried to telephone Simpson from outside the estate but had only reached an answering machine.

The detectives testified that they finally decided to jump the wall after seeing a small red stain--it later turned out to be blood--on the door handle of Simpson's Ford Bronco and after learning through Westec that Simpson had a live-in maid. Those discoveries raised their fears that additional victims could be inside the estate, the detectives testified.

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