Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

LAPD Chemist Testifies on Blood Test Results : Simpson case: He says defendant is among 0.5% of people whose blood matches one drop. Ex-juror ailing.

May 03, 1995|JIM NEWTON and ANDREA FORD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Testifying for the first time about test results that prosecutors say link O.J. Simpson to a pair of brutal murders, a police chemist said Tuesday that a blood drop near the scene of the crime contains some characteristics identical to Simpson's while stains discovered in his bedroom could have come from his murdered ex-wife.

Referring to a chart that portrayed the results of Los Angeles Police Department blood testing, assistant LAPD laboratory director Gregory Matheson for the first time presented test results that prosecutors say point to Simpson as the person who killed Ronald Lyle Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. Simpson has pleaded not guilty to those killings, but prosecutors have long said they will prove he was the culprit largely through blood, hair, fibers and other physical evidence.

The results presented Tuesday came in the form of testimony and a prosecution chart and indicate that only 0.5% of the population could have left one of the blood drops leading away from the two victims. According to the chart, Simpson was among those who could have been the source of that drop, one that Matheson had testified about during last summer's preliminary hearing.

In addition, Matheson testified that Nicole Simpson could have been the source of blood found on a sock in her ex-husband's bedroom, blood that Matheson said could not have come from O.J. Simpson. Those socks long have been among the case's most hotly contested pieces of evidence: DNA tests also have pointed to Nicole Simpson as the probable source of blood on the socks, but defense attorneys have suggested that the blood on them may have been planted by police determined to frame Simpson for the murders.

Although the results presented Tuesday are taken from conventional testing, not the more precise DNA analysis later performed on some of the same samples, they form the first pillar of the prosecution's physical-evidence case, suggesting the trail of blood that prosecutors say connects Simpson to the double homicide.

Matheson's testimony was dry and sometimes technical, but his findings mark the first time that jurors have heard of results that purport to connect Simpson to the crime scene or that allegedly link the victims to Simpson's home.

As Matheson testified, Deputy Dist. Atty. Hank Goldberg sought to achieve two ends: explaining the array of test results and simultaneously debunking defense allegations that sloppy handling, lab contamination or deliberate attempts to frame Simpson rendered the tests unreliable.

That dual challenge was magnified by the technical jargon associated with the tests--vocabulary so dense that Goldberg joked at one point about his struggles to pronounce the name of one of the tests. When he overshot the lunch break by a few minutes, Goldberg apologized by wryly commenting that he was so swept up in one of his charts that he lost track of the time. A few members of the audience laughed appreciatively.

Despite the technical nature of the topic, legal experts said the latest turn in the prosecution's case marked the beginning of the most important part of the trial--the phase in which government lawyers attempt to link Simpson directly to the murders.

"Finally, they are presenting evidence which ties O.J. Simpson to the crimes," said Craig Silverman, chief deputy district attorney in Denver. "Yes, it's circumstantial evidence, but remember the vast majority of people in the world don't match the characteristics--blood type . . . and the enzyme breakdowns--of O.J. Simpson's blood."

Others warned, however, that the presentation of that technical evidence was so flat that its significance may be partly lost on the jury.

"They finally put the witness who is a linchpin in that part of the case on the stand," said Howard Price, a Beverly Hills defense lawyer, "and it takes a day and a half to get to what he has to say. Then they put it in the most boring, disjointed and incomprehensible way imaginable."

Although Goldberg's questioning bogged down at points, he managed to complete it near the end of Tuesday's session, allowing Simpson attorney Robert Blasier to begin his cross-examination. Blasier opened his questioning with a pattern that has become familiar: He suggested that the prosecution witness's training and education were inferior to those of defense experts, and he tried to elicit testimony that would undermine the credibility of other prosecution witnesses as well.

Specifically, the lawyer asked Matheson whether two criminalists, Dennis Fung and Andrea Mazzola, were certified by various professional organizations or whether they attended seminars in which Matheson participated. Matheson said he did not know.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|