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The O.j. Simpson Murder Trial

Arenella, Levenson & Co.: The Legal Pad

August 26, 1995

UCLA law professor Peter Arenella and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson regularly offer their take on the Simpson trial. Joinging them today is defense attorney Gerald L. Chaleff, who will rotate with other experts as the case moves forward. Today's topic: Something wrong. But what?


On the defense: The prosecution's trail of blood evidence just got thinner. Dr. Lee described the blood smears on the Bronco and the blood drops in the Rockingham foyer as the probable product of a minor cut on O.J.'s hand. And four of seven swatches from a Bundy bloodstain left wet transfer stains on their bindles, when they should have been dry hours before. Will jurors conclude that someone replaced four of the original swatches with planted evidence?

On the prosecution: Hank Goldberg won the battle, but lost the war. He persuaded Judge Ito to exclude a swatch-drying experiment that showed Bundy swatches should have been dry when they left wet transfer stains on paper bindles. And his successful objections to Barry Scheck's questions blunted the defense's point about the significance of this evidence. But jurors may view his tactics as obstructionist if they understood the defense's tampering theory.


On the defense: 'Something's wrong.' Those were the ominous words Dr. Lee left with the jury. But Lee couldn't say exactly what went wrong. Because there were wet blood transfers on swatch bindles, the defense wants the jury to believe there was tampering. But it also may be simply that the swatches were not completely dry when packaged. Jurors may see this as more sloppy evidence handling and not recognize it as part of a conspiracy theory.

On the prosecution: Goldberg started the day with a Pyrrhic victory. Ito wouldn't permit Lee to testify about his swatch-drying experiment, but he allowed the equivalent by permitting Lee to testify about how long it ordinarily takes swatches to dry. Goldberg now has the weekend to think over his cross. If he takes Ito's advice, it will be quick and dirty. He will use Lee to emphasize the prosecution's strengths, like Bruno Magli shoeprints at the crime scene.


On the defense: Something wrong. Lee recapitulated the defense themes of contamination and manipulation. Scheck used Lee to show the LAPD's incompetence by having him point out how sloppily the blood was collected. Lee also testified that the blood in the Bronco could have come from the unaccounted for one cc of Simpson's reference sample and that the blood on the swatches should have been dry but wasn't, which suggests tampering.

On the prosecution: When Goldberg begins his cross, he can use Lee to emphasize the evidence that points to Simpson's guilt, such as the Bruno Magli shoeprint in his size. Goldberg also can show that many of Lee's criticisms are based on photographs. Goldberg can use Lee to point out that the manipulation theory would require many conspirators--Fuhrman with the glove, Vanatter or Lange splattering blood and someone at the lab salting the swatches.

Compiled by Tim Rutten/Los Angeles Times

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