Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsTrials

Defense Expert Offers 2-Killer Scenario

Simpson trial: Theory explains victims' relative quiet, pathologist says. He says crime took up to 10 minutes.

December 17, 1996|STEPHANIE SIMON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A renowned pathologist on Monday attacked the theory that O.J. Simpson slaughtered two people in less than two minutes, testifying that victim Ronald Lyle Goldman actively struggled for up to five minutes and that the double homicide probably involved at least two assailants.

Defense expert Michael Baden also rejected the theory--advanced by a pathologist testifying for the other side--that the victims clawed fingernail gouges into Simpson's left hand as they struggled to break free of his lethal grip.

"I've never seen a fingernail mark produce that long and deep a wound on somebody," Baden said. Nicole Brown Simpson's fake fingernails were intact, indicating that she did not dig them into anyone's skin, and Goldman's nails were clipped extremely close, making it unlikely he could have inflicted serious damage on a foe, Baden added.

Jurors in the civil trial scribbled notes attentively as Baden said the deepest cut on Simpson's hand could have been caused by a jagged knife, but most likely was inflicted by a piece of glass. That analysis is consistent with Simpson's testimony that he cut himself while scooping up broken glass in his Chicago hotel room the morning after the slayings. Simpson has not explained how he suffered the other injuries, and Baden offered no theories.

Baden's testimony sets up a credibility contest between him and the plaintiffs' expert pathologist, Dr. Werner Spitz, who set forth a completely different scenario for the killings. Baden was careful to say that he respects Spitz and considers him both a close friend and an excellent pathologist. "But I think we disagree on some matters," Baden added.

Baden and Spitz disagree on almost everything connected with the slayings of Nicole Simpson and Goldman.

Spitz's scenario of a speedy killing--with very little blood splashing onto the assailant--fits the plaintiffs' theory that Simpson committed the slayings about 10:35 to 10:40 p.m. and had plenty of time to dash home, hide the knife and clean up before his limo driver spotted him outside the front door at 10:55 p.m.

Baden's reconstruction, however, would make it nearly impossible for Simpson to be the killer. The veteran medical examiner told jurors he thought Goldman's killing took at least 10 minutes, including up to five minutes of active struggle. During that frantic fight, Goldman punched his assailant hard enough to bruise his own hand--yet Simpson had no marks on his body other than the cuts and abrasions on his hand, Baden testified.

And as a practical matter, Baden told jurors: "I can't understand how these two people could be murdered and not yell out unless there were two [assailants] there."

Only one witness has reported hearing any screams from the crime scene. Robert Heidstra testified he was walking his dog behind Nicole Simpson's condominium when he heard a male voice shout "Hey, hey, hey" and a deeper voice rumble in answer about 10:35 to 10:40 p.m. on June 12, 1994.

On cross-examination, attorney Ed Medvene tried to portray Baden as a publicity-hungry advocate who exaggerated the certainty of his conclusions to help the defense. Medvene also asked Baden about his customary fee of $2,500 to $3,000 a day for consulting on cases. Baden said he was billing only $1,500 a day "because of the defendant's inability to pay more money."

The cross-examination will continue today.

Before Baden took the stand, the defense presented another New York-based expert, forensic scientist Herbert MacDonell.

MacDonell testified that a bloodstain on one of the socks recovered from O.J. Simpson's bedroom appeared to have been created by someone deliberately dripping blood from a pipette onto the material--an explanation that bolstered the defense contention that the blood was planted.

On cross-examination, however, MacDonell conceded that the peculiar pattern he said could indicate tampering showed up on just one of the socks' several bloodstains. And he acknowledged that other actions could have caused the pattern, including carelessness by criminalists who examined the socks long before he got to see them.

The socks contained bloodstains consistent with O.J. and Nicole Simpson's blood.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|