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O.J. expert: Possible shoe imprints

By
TERRI VERMEULEN

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 23 -- Possible shoe imprints found on evidence at the scene where O.J. Simpson's ex-wife and her friend were murdered do not match the shoes that the prosecution contends Simpson wore during the murders, a prominent forensic expert testified Wednesday. Dr. Henry Lee said the possible shoeprints on murder victim Ronald Goldman's jeans, as well as those on an envelope and piece of paper found at the murder scene, do not match an expensive and rare pair of Italian shoes that the prosecution alleges Simpson wore during the killings. Lee said the imprints do not match Goldman's boots, either. The renowned expert's testimony could bolster the defense's theory that more than one person killed Simpson's former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Goldman. Simpson, 48, is standing trial on two counts of first-degree murder for the June 12, 1994 stabbing and slashing deaths of Nicole Simpson, 35, and Goldman, 25, outside her Brentwood condominium. Simpson has adamantly maintained his innocence, and defense lawyers have accused police of failing to consider suspects other than Simpson. Defense lawyer Barry Scheck suggested that the imprint -- if it was a shoeprint -- would indicate that at least two people were involved in the murders. 'In your experience at crime scenes, have you ever seen a single assailant wear two pairs of shoes?' Scheck asked Lee. 'No,' said Lee, who heads Connecticut's state police forensic lab and is often called upon to assist in cases in other states. A cautious Lee said he could only say that one imprint -- found on the walkway leading away from the scene -- was definitely a shoeprint.

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That print was near a heelprint identified as being made by the expensive Bruno Magli shoe, but did not have the same design, Lee said. FBI Agent William Bodziak, called during the prosecution's case, had testified that a trail of bloody shoeprints leading away from the scene came from one pair of size-12 Bruno Magli shoes. The shoes were the same size as a pair of Reebok tennis shoes seized from Simpson's bedroom the day after the murders. Bodziak had discounted a suggestion by the defense that 'professional assassins' bought the shoes too big in an effort to disguise their identities and mislead police. The prosecution did not present any conclusive evidence linking Simpson to owning a pair of Bruno Magli shoes. In testimony Wednesday, Lee said he could not conclusively determine if several partial imprints on Goldman's blue jeans came from a shoe, but believed the design could be consistent with an assailant kicking Goldman. 'If this is a shoeprint, this is a different type of design than Bruno Magli,' Lee said. Lead police investigator Philip Vannatter told reporters outside court Tuesday, 'They aren't shoe imprints.' Also Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Lance Ito threatened the defense with 'significant and substantial' fines for failing to quickly turn over defense experts' notes to the prosecution. Ito said the fines appear warranted given his previous warnings to quickly turn over such notes and reports, and asked the prosecution to tell him exactly how they were harmed by the delay. In his written ruling, Ito also said he is considering 'a reasonable continuance' to allow the prosecution time to prepare for Lee's cross- examination. In other developments Wednesday: --Three California lawmakers introduced a bill that would prevent judges from handling any criminal proceeding if they have family working for police or prosecutors on the case, prompted by a conflict-of- interest that nearly forced Ito to remove himself from the case. Ito said last week that he would have to step down from the trial if his wife, police Capt. Margaret York, was determined to be a material witness involving former police detective Mark Fuhrman, who she had once supervised. Another judge determined last Friday that York was not a material witness. The defense has accused Fuhrman of being a racist, rogue cop who may have planted a bloody glove at Simpson's estate to frame the black sports hero for the murders of his white ex-wife and her friend. Ito has not yet determined whether the jury will hear audiotaped interviews with a screenwriter in which Fuhrman allegedly uses racial slurs and admits or approves of police misconduct. Fuhrman had served as a consultant for screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny's screenplay and book on the Los Angeles Police Department. He retired from the Police Department earlier this month and moved to Idaho, but the defense has indicated they may call him back to the stand to confront him with the tapes if Ito rules that they are admissible.

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