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Kaelin to Give Next Deposition in Simpson Case

February 13, 1996|JOHN J. GOLDMAN and HENRY WEINSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

NEW YORK — Lawyers pressing wrongful death lawsuits against O.J. Simpson plan to confront Brian "Kato" Kaelin with alleged contradictions between testimony Kaelin gave on the witness stand in Simpson's criminal trial and taped statements that he provided to a man who wrote a book about him, attorneys involved in the civil case said Monday.

Plaintiffs' attorneys are scheduled to start deposing the former Simpson guest house tenant Wednesday. New York attorney Leonard Marks said Monday that he was confident that the plaintiffs' lawyers would ask Kaelin about a number of things he said during 15 hours of taped interviews with writer Marc Eliot, whose book "Kato Kaelin: The Whole Truth" was published last May.

"Among other things [Kaelin] says on one of the tapes is that O.J. Simpson said, 'You're my alibi,' " Marks said at a news conference, after the conclusion Monday of a three-day deposition of Faye D. Resnick, author of a controversial memoir about Simpson's slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

Marks said he played highlights of some of the tapes to prosecutors in the criminal trial. He expressed astonishment that they did not confront Kaelin with the "alibi" statement and other remarks on the tapes that he has now provided to Daniel M. Petrocelli, lead lawyer for Fred Goldman, the father of murder victim Ronald L. Goldman, who was killed with Nicole Simpson on June 12, 1994.

Marks said he had listened to all of the tapes as part of representing Eliot. Kaelin testified under oath in March that he had no plans to write a book, but Eliot's tapes reveal that Kaelin talked to him at great length. In June, Kaelin said in interviews that he backed out of the project because Eliot was attempting to exaggerate things he had told the writer, who earlier wrote biographies of Walt Disney and Bruce Springsteen.

Marks said he had met with prosecutors in Los Angeles in June and unsuccessfully urged them to recall Kaelin to the witness stand to show that, to aid Simpson, he was shading his testimony about Simpson's demeanor the night of the murders and on other issues.

"On the tapes, [Kaelin] indicates that he loves O.J. whether he is guilty or not. Don't you think the prosecution should have confronted him on the stand with that information?" Marks asked.

When Marks asked prosecutors why Kaelin was not recalled, "they said they felt pressured to end their part of the case and not put on more evidence because Judge [Lance A.] Ito was indicating they should be closing their case," the attorney said.

The district attorney's office declined to comment on Marks' statements, and William Genego, Kaelin's attorney, could not be reached for comment.

But last May, when the issue of the alleged contradictions between Kaelin's testimony and the book interviews arose, Genego maintained that his client had testified truthfully.

During the trial, Kaelin proved a frustrating witness for prosecutor Marcia Clark. He provided testimony that was helpful to the prosecution, including statements that there were blood drops in Simpson's foyer before Simpson gave a blood sample to the police. But Kaelin's answers were often rambling and unclear. At one point, Clark persuaded Ito to declare Kaelin a hostile witness.

Nonetheless, Kaelin did not provide an alibi for Simpson.

Kaelin testified that he went to a McDonald's restaurant with Simpson on the night of the murders and that they returned at 9:36 p.m. He said that he went to his room to eat and did not see Simpson again until about 10:55 p.m., just before Simpson left for the airport in a limousine. Prosecutors believe that the murders occurred between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m., a period in which Simpson has no witnesses to account for his whereabouts.

Earlier Monday, Resnick reiterated under oath that Simpson had told her that he might kill his ex-wife, according to attorneys at the deposition. Resnick testified that Simpson had made the threat to her on May 2 or 3, less than six weeks before Nicole Simpson and Goldman were murdered outside her Brentwood condominium, Petrocelli said.

"There was extensive testimony on the context in which the statement was made. It had to do with Nicole's final decision to end her relationship with O.J. and his inability to accept it," Petrocelli said.

Marks gave a similar account after Resnick's deposition ended. "O.J. told her, she testified, that he was going to kill Nicole because he was furious about the fact that she had begged him to reconcile with her, that they started to get back together and then she rejected him, she humiliated him and she really shamed him. And he was so angry, he told Faye that he was going to kill [Nicole]," Marks said at a news conference outside his Manhattan law office.

Neither Simpson nor any of his principal attorneys could be reached for comment. Daniel Leonard, the lawyer representing Simpson, had no comment after the proceedings Monday.

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