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Ito to Allow Use of Graphic Autopsy Photos

June 01, 1995|JIM NEWTON and STEPHANIE SIMON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Jurors seemed largely unimpressed by Wednesday's testimony. Some spent their time reviewing old notes while the witnesses were questioned. Others glanced at their watches impatiently or rocked back and forth in their chairs.

On the stand, Collin Yamauchi, a Los Angeles Police Department analyst who has been testifying since last week, defended his evidence-handling techniques by saying they mirrored the practices of a highly acclaimed expert working for the Simpson defense team.

Yamauchi said he had watched carefully as Henry Lee, director of the Connecticut State Police crime lab and a nationally recognized criminalist, examined evidence in the Simpson case.

Yamauchi said he was gratified by what he saw: "Basically, he has a good reputation, and he handles evidence in the same way we do." Far from resenting Lee's interference in the case, Yamauchi said in response to a question from Scheck, he found Lee to be a "nice, congenial man."

Lee is expected to testify for the defense later in the case.

As the prosecution attempted to wrap up the presentation of its scientific evidence, both sides resumed their interrupted questioning of Gary Sims, a senior analyst from the state Department of Justice laboratory in Berkeley. Since Sims last appeared on the witness stand, the defense has attempted to press its conspiracy theory in part by highlighting the fact that more DNA was recovered from bloodstains found three weeks after the killings than from stains collected just a few hours after the crimes.

The defense contends that the discrepancy is because the blood drops on the gate were planted by police, an allegation that LAPD officials and prosecutors dismiss as absurd.

Nevertheless, Scheck bored in on that point Wednesday afternoon, reminding jurors that far more DNA was found on the drops from the back gate and highlighting them with a quickly assembled defense chart outlining the results. Jurors snapped to attention as Scheck presented that chart, which showed that the blood on the gate contained hundreds of times more DNA than some other samples.

Sims acknowledged the discrepancy, but earlier agreed with prosecutor Harmon that nothing about the results necessarily pointed to evidence-tampering as the reason. Bacteria from the walkway where some drops were recovered could have contributed to the degradation of DNA in those samples, as could have other factors, Sims said.

Defense attorneys also have leveled the accusation of planted evidence with respect to a pair of socks recovered from Simpson's bedroom. DNA testing of the socks found genetic markers that matched Nicole Simpson's--only one person in billions who could be expected to have those markers--but Simpson's lawyers contend that the blood was planted.

They have attempted to bolster the argument by eliciting testimony that various analysts looked at the socks in the days immediately after the murders and that none noticed any blood. Responding to that allegation, the prosecution has drawn out testimony of its own--the same analysts have said the stains were very subtle and hard to see against the dark background of the socks.

On Wednesday, jurors got a chance to see for themselves, parading one at a time to a microscope on the prosecution table. Each of the panelists paused to look through the microscope, some staring for almost a minute but most just taking a brief look. As they returned to their seats, most of the jurors jotted notes in their pads.

Both sides had hoped to finish Sims' testimony on Wednesday, and Ito held the jury for an extra 30 minutes after Scheck said he thought he could finish in that time. That time came and went, however, and Scheck still was plowing through his questions.

Because Wednesday is the jurors' family visitation day, Ito eventually cut Scheck off, reminding him that the jurors had other appointments to keep. Scheck apologized to the judge, and Ito in turn apologized to the jury.

"I was trying to finish," he said, "but it's a little slow here."

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