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Simpson Jury Hears Details on Shoe Prints

June 20, 1995|JIM NEWTON and ANDREA FORD | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Prosecutors in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson turned Monday from bloody gloves to a trail of footprints, detailing the size, make and manufacture of the shoes worn by the killer--all of which, they said, suggested Simpson as the culprit but which their witness could not positively link to him.

William J. Bodziak, an FBI shoe imprint expert, testified that the prints left at the scene of the June 12, 1994, murders were created by someone wearing expensive, Size 12, Italian-made Bruno Magli shoes.

Although far less definitive than the prosecution's DNA evidence, the shoe print testimony offers intriguing details that the government lawyers say help tie Simpson to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman. Simpson, who has pleaded not guilty to the killings, wears Size 12 shoes, and clearly could have afforded the $160 price tag for a pair of Bruno Maglis.

In addition, Bodziak testified that fewer than 10% of all shoes sold are Size 12s, and that most men who wear them are between 6 feet and 6 feet, 4 inches tall. Simpson is 6 feet, 1 inch tall.

Under cross-examination, however, Bodziak acknowledged that he could not definitively link Simpson to the shoe prints, only that the prints appeared to come from shoes that were Simpson's size. F. Lee Bailey, one of Simpson's defense lawyers, sarcastically dismissed the significance of that evidence, suggesting that it shed little light on the case.

Bailey and the FBI agent sparred for much of the afternoon. When Bailey accused the witness of making an unfounded assumption, for instance, Bodziak forcefully responded: "The physical evidence at the scene, which doesn't lie, is making that assumption."

A calm and professional witness, Bodziak opened the morning session by describing the international hunt to identify the prints at the Brentwood murder scene. He then turned to a long description of how and where Bruno Magli shoes are made, including a photographic tour of the company's Italian shoe factory, and ended the prosecution examination by tracing the murderer's bloody footprints, some of them faint, others rich in identifying detail.

With each footprint, Bodziak said he had compared the marks left in blood to the soles of a Size 12 Bruno Magli shoe--actually a European Size 46--and found that they matched.

The shoe prints ran along a walkway where the two bodies were discovered, fading gradually as the prints led away from the victims. In addition, Bodziak said the assailant appeared to have doubled back at one point and added that heel prints on Nicole Simpson's dress and back could have been made by the same shoes.

The footprints on Nicole Simpson's dress and body bolstered testimony from the county coroner, who said that her assailant might have stood on her back, pulled her hair back with one hand and slashed her throat.

When the photograph of Nicole Simpson's back was displayed, jurors leaned forward attentively, staring closely at the smudged image. Tanya Brown, one of the victim's sisters, began to cry silently as the testimony turned to the blood on Nicole Simpson and her dress.

Demonstrating how the footprints could have been tracked away from the bodies of Nicole Simpson and Goldman, prosecutors on Monday displayed a gory crime-scene photograph showing the two victims lying in blood. Simpson, who was tried to avert his eyes from the crime scene photographs, stared directly at that one. He blanched noticeably, blinked, licked his lips, wiped his face with his hand and reached for a cup of water.

After gulping it down, Simpson glanced over his shoulder several times at Deputy Dist. Atty. Hank Goldberg. The prosecutor continued posing questions to the witness, apparently oblivious to Simpson's stare.

More Gloves to Come

Although helpful to the prosecution, the expert's testimony unfolded in the shadow of last week's much-criticized glove demonstration, in which Simpson struggled, strained and announced that the gloves found at the scene of the crime and outside his house did not fit him.

Prosecutors moved on to the shoe evidence Monday, but Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher A. Darden said at the outset of the session that the prosecution was not yet finished with the topic of the gloves.

"We are going to revisit that issue again," Darden said, turning to lead Simpson trial lawyer Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. "I don't know which day, and I would ask that Mr. Cochran keep his file relative to the glove handy."

Cochran, whose baiting of Darden has grown increasingly fierce in recent weeks, responded with a self-confident grin.

"They haven't had enough of the gloves yet, Your Honor?" he asked mockingly outside the jury's presence. "OK, we will be ready."

Although Darden did not specify what additional evidence prosecutors hope to present regarding the gloves, a transcript of a sidebar conference shed light on what is yet to come.

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