LOS ANGELES, June 12 -- The O.J. Simpson trial judge allowed the media to look at gruesome autopsy photographs that graphically detail gaping stabbing and slashing wounds to Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman on Monday, the one-year anniversary of their murders.
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito and prosecutors Brian Kelberg and Ken Lynch looked on from the jury box as a pool of reporters looked at more than 40 close-up photos of Nicole Simpson and Goldman taken at the murder scene and at the coroner's office.
The most graphic photos show Nicole Simpson appearing almost lifelike with her eyes partially open and her neck cut in a huge, gaping slashing wound, and Goldman's eyes looking upward in a photo that shows numerous wounds to his neck.
One photo, taken when the bodies were brought to the coroner's office, shows Nicole Simpson's blood-spattered face and hair, with her black halter dress pulled up to show her black bikini panties. Another shows the bloodstained face of Goldman, with his pants soaked with blood.
Another series of photos, taken after the victims' bodies were cleaned of blood, showed close-up views of the injuries to Nicole Simpson's neck and a half-dozen injuries to Goldman's face and neck. Other photos show stabbing injuries to each of the victims' heads, with their hair partially shaved to show the cuts better.
Some of the photos were more clinical, with an employee from the coroner's office holding Ronald Goldman's hands to show defensive wounds he sustained while struggling for his life.
One photo shows a mottled area of Nicole Simpson's back -- an injury the prosecution contends was inflicted when the killer put his foot on her back while she was lying helpless on the ground, pulled her head back by the hair and slit her throat to the bone.
The photos, which were about 9 by 12 inches, were displayed on blue boards that stretched across a courtroom down the hall from the Simpson trial courtroom. A pool of 48 reporters -- 24 at a time -- quietly looked at the photos for 25 minutes.
Most of the photos were shown to the jury last week, with several panelists appearing emotional. Testimony was halted 1 1/2 hours early Thursday after Goldman's family broke down in tears and one juror left the jury box, holding a tissue to her face.
Simpson's defense attorneys had opposed the jury seeing the photos, saying they believed the photos would inflame the passions of the jury so they would be more likely to convict Simpson. The former football superstar-turned-actor is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the June 12, 1994 stabbing and slashing deaths outside Nicole Simpson's condominium.
The jury did not hear any testimony Monday morning because County Coroner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran had another commitment, but his testimony was scheduled to resume at 1:30 p.m. PDT.
Simpson's lead attorney, Johnnie Cochran Jr., had asked the judge last week to declare a one-day recess Monday, noting that it would be 'a difficult day for all of the victims in this case.' Ito refused to declare the recess.
Meanwhile, the families of Nicole Simpson and Goldman scheduled separate candlelight vigils Monday night to mark the one-year anniversary of the killings.
And Mezzaluna, the restaurant in Brentwood where Goldman worked and where Nicole Simpson had her last meal, was closed in memory of the victims, despite what the owner said was a high demand for reservations.