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Ito's Rulings Set Back Simpson Defense Team : Courts: Reporter refuses to testify about socks story, citing protection of shield law. Judge won't help get tapes containing alleged racist remarks by Fuhrman.

August 01, 1995|HENRY WEINSTEIN and TIM RUTTEN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Increasingly desperate to put evidence of an alleged police conspiracy against their client before the jury, O.J. Simpson's defense attorneys lashed out in four different directions Monday and met resistance at every turn.

The former football star's lawyers sought to compel a pair of reporters--Tracie Savage of television station KNBC and author Joseph Bosco--to reveal the sources of stories on the handling of the bloodstained socks recovered from the bedroom of Simpson's Rockingham Avenue estate.

Savage, who was forced to take the stand, refused to answer, invoking the protection of the California Shield Law. Judge Lance A. Ito, citing the issue's complexity and the need for "careful consideration," took the question of whether to force her to answer under submission.

Simpson's lawyers also want to question Bosco about Los Angeles Police Department sources for an article he wrote for the July issue of Penthouse magazine. Since he was served with the subpoena during the trial's midmorning break, Ito gave the writer until 4 p.m. Wednesday to confer with his lawyer on how to proceed.

Later in the morning, a visibly agitated Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., Simpson's chief counsel, sought an affidavit from Ito to assist the defense in its appeal of a North Carolina ruling denying their client access to audiotapes on which LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman allegedly makes racist remarks and contradicts his sworn testimony in the Simpson trial. Ito declined to involve himself on ethical grounds, though Cochran characterized the tapes' content as "chilling."

Shortly afterward, Ito handed the defense still another setback, when he issued a written refusal to reconsider his order barring testimony by Christian Reichardt, onetime boyfriend to Faye Resnick and sometimes a house guest of Nicole Brown Simpson. The defense had hoped to use Reichardt to lay the groundwork for its theory that the murders of Simpson's ex-wife and her friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman, were committed by drug dealers pursuing Resnick, a self-described cocaine user.

But worse was in store for the former football star shortly before testimony in front of the jury resumed. Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Clark suggested that she may try to introduce into evidence photographs and videotapes the prosecution says show Simpson wearing the same type of gloves as those that were lost or discarded by the murderer.

Clark's threat was delivered during a hearing in which another Simpson lawyer, Peter Neufeld, sought to circumscribe the cross-examination of defense blood expert Herbert MacDonell by asking Ito to prohibit the prosecution from showing a videotape of Simpson wearing gloves on the sidelines of a football game. Clark argued that she was entitled to use the tape to attack the credibility of the witness, who conducted an experiment to determine the extent to which gloves soaked in blood would shrink.

In the course of the proceedings, the judge asked Clark, "Can you establish the foundation that those gloves are the same gloves?"

"Yes, I can," the prosecutor replied, a half-smile playing across her face.

"Interesting," Ito responded after a lengthy pause.

Although a prosecution source later said Clark's statement meant only that prosecutors were prepared to prove Simpson had been photographed wearing the same type of gloves, defense sources said they understood her reply to mean she was prepared to prove the gloves photographed were the same pair as those recovered from the murder scene and Simpson's Rockingham estate. In court, Clark did not elaborate on how she would prove either possibility.

But the exchange was significant since it marked the first time prosecutors have alleged they can show Simpson actually wearing the same kind of gloves as those recovered.

In fact, when Ito declined to limit Clark's cross-examination of MacDonell, Neufeld told the court that "without the ruling that I believe we're entitled to at this time, then the defense will not introduce that glove-drying experiment."

Jurors, however, appeared to follow with great interest the balance of MacDonell's testimony regarding bloodstains on the socks recovered from the master bedroom of Simpson's Rockingham mansion. At one point, 10 of the panelists busily took notes as the scientist displayed photos he said supported his opinion that the socks were not on a foot when the blood was deposited on them. That opinion supports the defense theory that the blood was planted as part of a conspiracy to frame Simpson.

During her biting--at times, almost contemptuous--cross-examination of MacDonell--Clark suggested other explanations for what the defense expert called a "compression" bloodstain on one of the socks. The prosecutor asked MacDonell to consider the possibilities that the blood was rubbed on the sock when Nicole Brown Simpson grabbed her assailant's ankle with a bloody hand or that Simpson put it there while removing the socks with bloody fingers.

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