Advertisement

Impatient O.J. judge prods prosecutor

By
TERRI VERMEULEN

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 14 -- The O.J. Simpson trial judge appeared impatient Monday with a prosecutor's cross-examination of an important defense expert, telling her repeatedly to wrap up her questions about alleged mistakes he made on another case. An irritated Superior Court Judge Lance Ito warned prosecutor Marcia Clark to 'wind up' her cross-examination of forensic toxicologist Dr. Fredric Rieders about an unrelated case, and cut her off later, saying it was 'completely irrelevant at this point.' Rieders has testified that he believes FBI test results show traces of a preservative were present on crucial blood evidence that should not have contained any, bolstering the defense's theory that blood may have been planted to frame Simpson for the murders of his ex-wife and her friend. The prosecution contends Rieders' interpretation of the tests should not be trusted because he once concluded that a man had been killed by oleander poisoning, while later tests concluded there were no such signs of oleander poisoning. 'Let's wind up this area of inquiry,' Ito told Clark after a long series of questions about the other case. 'Let's try the Simpson case some time today.' After yet another series of questions about Rieders' involvement in the other case, Ito announced, 'This is the end of the inquiry. It's completely irrelevant at this point. Move on to something else.' Upon being questioned about the Simpson case, the defense expert maintained that the FBI's tests show traces of the preservative EDTA on a sock found in Simpson's bedroom and on a gate leading away from the murder scene.

Advertisement

That disputes the account of FBI Agent Roger Martz, who said he was convinced the blood did not contain as much EDTA as a preserved blood sample would. During cross-examination, Rieders discounted Martz's finding that an unpreserved sample of Martz's own blood yielded very similar results as the bloodstains on the sock and gate, saying he thought it might be due to 'contamination' or a 'mix-up.' Rieders said he also stood by his opinion that the blood on the sock and the gate had been stored in a reference vial containing the preservative, bolstering the defense's theory that blood was taken from a sample voluntarily given by Simpson and sprinkled on evidence to frame him for the murders. Simpson, 48, is standing trial on two counts of first-degree murder for the June 12, 1994, stabbing and slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, 25, outside her Brentwood condominium. If convicted, the former gridiron great- turned-actor could spend the rest of his life in prison. In other developments Monday: --Simpson's lead defense attorney, Johnnie Cochran Jr., said the defense opposes plans for a second jury visit to the football legend's estate and the murder scene 2 miles away, calling it 'unnecessary and too costly.' Ito told the defense to file papers detailing the reasons why they do not want the jury to visit the scene again -- this time at night -- next Sunday. Ito said he accompanied lawyers from both sides to the two scenes Sunday night to try to work out logistical problems. --Cochran told the judge the defense may again seek personnel records for controversial police detective Mark Fuhrman in light of explosive audiotapes that include Fuhrman's alleged use of a racial epithet that he had denied under oath having uttered within the past 10 years. Fuhrman's taped conversations with screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny were turned over to the defense last week after a North Carolina appeals court ruled that she should testify in the Simpson trial and turn the tapes over. Fuhrman, who retired from the Police Department earlier this month, has testified that he found a bloody glove near an air conditioning unit at Simpson's mansion. The defense contends Fuhrman is a racist, rogue cop who may have planted evidence to frame the black football hero for the murders of his white ex-wife and her friend. Fuhrman's lawyers, Laurie Butler and Richard Towne, told Ito on Monday that they want their own copies of the tapes. McKinny's lawyer, Matthew Schwartz, said in a telephone interview that he will consult with his client to determine if she is willing to turn the tapes over to Fuhrman. --Simpson's lawyers lost another bid to call two journalists, book author Joseph Bosco and TV reporter Tracie Savage, to the stand to testify about news leaks. The defense team agreed they would not call Bosco to the stand, but said they have not yet decided whether to release Savage from her subpoena. Ito ruled last week that the two did not have to divulge their sources for media leaks about DNA test results. Ito also told the defense they could not question Michele Kestler, the Los Angeles Police Department's crime lab director, about the media leaks. Kestler was called to the stand late Monday and was expected to resume her testimony Tuesday morning.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Latest Headlines