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Simpson Talks of Trial, Criticizes 'Misconceptions' : Acquittal: In call to TV show, he says he was 'shadowy figure' limo driver saw but was bringing his luggage out. Ex-defendant is reunited with two young children.

October 05, 1995|ANDREA FORD and GREG KRIKORIAN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

O.J. Simpson acknowledged Wednesday in a surprise telephone call to a television talk show that he was the "shadowy figure" that limousine driver Allan Park saw outside his home the night Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman were killed.

In the call to CNN's "Larry King Live," Simpson also criticized prosecutors, television commentators and legal analysts for promoting "misconceptions" about trial testimony.

The comments came after the defendant-turned-private-citizen earlier in the day had ducked reporters outside his home, seen his young children for the first time in more than a year and consulted with his representatives about making a pay-per-view television appearance.

In his brief conversation with King, Simpson said he was the one Park saw but denied a caller's contention that Park had testified that the figure he saw outside the Rockingham Avenue house was coming down or crossing the driveway.

"Allan Park said 15 feet roughly from my front door," Simpson said, adding that such a distance would place him almost directly in front of his house. Simpson said he was "walking out my front door, dropping my bags and going back in. Fifteen feet. Never on the driveway. Never coming down the driveway. That is the testimony."

He did not explain why he did not respond to Park's repeated buzzer rings after the driver arrived at his home to take him to the airport for a trip to Chicago, but said he would "hopefully answer everyone's questions" at a later time.

Simpson told King that Deputy Dist. Attys. Marcia Clark and Christopher A. Darden distorted Park's testimony, and he blamed legal analysts for perpetuating those distortions.

"Fortunately for me," he said, "the jury listened to what the witnesses said and not Marcia Clark's or Darden's or anyone else's rendition of what was said."

He added that he had often "heard experts say that was the testimony today, and it wasn't the testimony today. So many times I went back to my cell and watched TV. I [would] go to my attorney room and I [would] talk to my attorneys, some witnesses, and we [would] say, 'Were these experts looking at the same . . . hearing, or were they in the same courtroom that we were in today?' "

When King asked him whether he was experiencing anger or relief after his acquittal Tuesday, Simpson said his emotions were running the gamut.

"My basic anger," he said "is these misconceptions."

Asked about how his children were doing, Simpson said, "They've been great."

Prosecutors Reflect on Loss

Simpson's call came on his first full day of freedom, one in which the case continued to unfold throughout Los Angeles. Jurors emerged to defend their verdicts, defense lawyers rallied to defend Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. against criticism from Robert L. Shapiro, and prosecutors, in their first interviews since the verdicts, reflected on how their "mountain of evidence" failed to convince even one panelist that Simpson was guilty of the murders.

"We still feel that the evidence was overwhelming and compelling," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Brian Kelberg, who handled the forensic evidence for the prosecution. "It's difficult to understand how a jury that heard nine months of testimony can reach conclusions in three hours and still have done the kind of deliberative process that we look to with juries before they reach decisions."

Deputy Dist. Atty. William Hodgman, who managed the case, said he too believed that the evidence was overwhelming and that it should have been enough to persuade the jury.

"To deliberate," he said, "means to discuss meaningfully. When the jury instructions direct the jury not to come into deliberations with preconceived notions, you would think that with a case that took this long and with this type of evidence, that deliberations would have gone longer."

Hodgman acknowledged that prosecutors never should have asked Simpson to try on the bloody gloves.

"In hindsight we wouldn't have proceeded with the glove demonstration," he said. "Ultimately, that was not carried out in a manner we preferred."

But Hodgman defended the prosecution's decisions to call Detective Mark Fuhrman to the stand and to keep from the jury testimony about the day Simpson took to the freeways rather than surrender to police.

"What you had was a mixed bag," Hodgman said of the circumstances surrounding the pursuit, which ended with Simpson's arrest and the seizure of nearly $10,000 and his passport in the car.

"You had evidence that was very self-serving for the defense and there was evidence that could have been interpreted as having some incriminatory value," he said. Pressed about what the favorable evidence was, Hodgman said it was "simply self-serving statements" Simpson made to his friends and his mother.

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