Advertisement

Cochran: Cops were 'twins of deception'

By
TERRI VERMEULEN

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 28 -- O.J. Simpson's lead attorney called two important police witnesses 'twin devils of deception' who lied under oath, and urged the jury Thursday to disregard their testimony about key evidence linking the football legend to the murders of his ex-wife and her friend. In his second day of closing arguments, lawyer Johnnie Cochran Jr. told the jury not to consider any of the testimony of co-lead police investigator Philip Vannatter and now-retired detective Mark Fuhrman, saying 'they are both people who have shown that they lie, will lie, did lie on the stand under oath.' In an impassioned argument, the defense attorney claimed that Vannatter lied about the reason police went to Simpson's estate the morning after the murders, and that Fuhrman lied about his use of a racial slur and had a motive to plant evidence to frame the black football hero. Fuhrman, who testified that he found a bloody glove at Simpson's estate that matched one found at the murder scene, has been under attack by the defense for more than a year as a racist, rogue cop who may have planted the glove. 'First of all, both prosecutors have now agreed that we have convinced them beyond a reasonable doubt, by the way, that he is a lying, perjuring, genocidal racist, and he has testified willfully false in this case on a number of scores,' Cochran said in a scathing attack against Fuhrman. 'That's what his big lies tell.'

Advertisement

Cochran also suggested that Vannatter lied about the reason he brought a sample of Simpson's blood to the football legend's estate, rather than booking it at police headquarters or the Police Department's scientific laboratory. Citing a jury instruction that allows jurors to reject the entire testimony of a witness who has 'testified falsely as to a material point,' Cochran urged the panelists to 'wipe out' the testimony of Fuhrman and Vannatter. 'These two twin devils of deception, you think about them and keep them in mind,' the defense lawyer said, nearing the end of his portion of the closing arguments. 'You can't believe these people, you can't trust the message, you can't trust the messengers.' Cochran maintained Simpson, 48, was wrongly accused of the slashing and stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, and is 'entitled to an acquittal.' The NFL Hall-of-Famer could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the June 12, 1994 killings. The jury can also consider second-degree murder charges, which carry a 15-year- to-life sentence. Simpson's attorneys claim that crucial blood evidence wrongly points to their client because it was either intentionally or accidentally contaminated, and Cochran claimed Thursday they were 'setting him up.' 'Why would all these police officers set up O.J. Simpson?' Cochran said. 'They believed he was guilty, they wanted to win, they don't want to lose another big case. These actions arose from what their belief was.' The defense lawyer accused other police officers of turning their heads, particularly against Fuhrman's racism, and urged the jury to 'stop this coverup.' Word for word, Cochran repeated a letter in which a woman recounts a conversation in which Fuhrman told her that he wanted to see all blacks 'gathered together and killed,' and compared Fuhrman to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. 'There was another man who not too long ago in the world who had those same views, who wanted to burn people, who had racist views and ultimately had power over people in his country,' Cochran said. In a brief news conference after Cochran finished, the father of murder victim Ron Goldman denounced Cochran as a 'sick man' who 'compares what Mark Fuhrman did to miseries from the beginning of history.' His voice shaking with rage and with his wife trying to calm him down, Fred Goldman, who has grown increasingly angry with the defense in recent months, said the long speech about racism was simply an effort 'to set his murdering client free.' Goldman and prosecutors contend that the defense is bringing up the so-called 'race card' to distract the jury from what they have called a 'mountain' and a virtual 'ocean' of physical evidence linking Simpson to the murders. Sophisticated DNA tests performed by prosecution scientists link Simpson to blood drops found at the murder scene, and blood found in Simpson's white Ford Bronco and on a glove and a pair of socks at Simpson's estate link Simpson and the two murder victims. Defense lawyer Barry Scheck, who began his portion of the defense's closing arguments late Thursday morning, suggested that police planted blood on a pair of socks found on Simpson's bedroom floor and on a gate leading away from the murder scene. 'It wouldn't take more than two bad police officers to do this and a lot of people look the other way,' Scheck said. 'If they manufacture evidence on the sock, how can you trust anything else? 'You cannot convict when the core of the prosecution's case is built on perjurious testimony of police officers, unreliable forensic evidence and manufactured evidence,' Scheck said, adding that 'something's terribly wrong with the evidence in this case.'

Advertisement
Advertisement

Latest Headlines