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Al Cowlings Again Asserts 5th Amendment Right

April 18, 1996|HENRY WEINSTEIN | TIMES LEGAL AFFAIRS WRITER

Al "A.C." Cowlings invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination for the second consecutive day Wednesday during a deposition in the wrongful death lawsuit that accuses O.J. Simpson of responsibility for the June 12, 1994, murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.

Cowlings took the 5th on questions about any knowledge of Simpson's activities between the morning of June 13, 1994, when Simpson returned from a brief trip to Chicago, and June 17, 1994, when the two friends briefly disappeared and then took police on a televised, slow-speed chase before Simpson surrendered to the police.

However, Cowlings did testify Wednesday that he declined to go to the Rose Bowl football game with Simpson because he was so upset that his friend had struck Nicole Simpson after an earlymorning flight on Jan. 1, 1989, said Daniel Petrocelli, attorney for Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father.

In October, Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and Goldman. He has attempted to minimize the 1989 incident, even though he pleaded no contest to criminal charges of spousal battery resulting from it.

But Petrocelli emphasized that Cowlings took the matter quite seriously.

"A.C. stayed back . . . in case perhaps Nicole needed him," Petrocelli said. And by the end of that day, Cowlings brought her to a Santa Monica hospital for treatment of a possible concussion, Petrocelli said.

"No man should ever hit a woman," Petrocelli quoted Cowlings as testifying in response to questions from Brown family lawyer John Q. Kelly.

Cowlings has declined to answer questions about events from June 13 to June 17, 1994, which conceivably could be used against him if prosecutors decide to file accessory after the fact charges against him, said his lawyer, Donald M. Re.

Re has maintained that Cowlings has done nothing wrong and would like to testify about the slow-speed chase. But Cowlings only will testify about the chase and other matters in the crucial five-day period if the district attorney's office gives him immunity, Re said.

On Wednesday, Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney's spokeswoman, said "we've made him [Cowlings] no offers of immunity or promises."

The district attorney's office conducted a grand jury investigation of Cowlings in 1994, but has not charged him with a crime. There is a three-year statute of limitations in California for filing accessory after the fact charges.

Cowlings also testified Wednesday that he learned after the murders that Nicole Simpson once had an affair with Marcus Allen, like Simpson a Heisman Trophy winner at USC. But Cowlings again declined to answer when asked when and how he learned about such a relationship.

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