Questioning today will turn to the night of the slayings
Jonathan T. Lovitt ; Richard Price
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- His alibi came together piece by piece. One witness
quoted him as saying he was asleep. The police said he told them he was
packing. A lawyer said he was chipping golf balls.
Finally, in a deposition leading up to his civil trial, O.J. Simpson he said he was
doing all that and more during the 78 minutes when no one can corroborate his
whereabouts on June 12, 1994.
But none of his actions, he said, included murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and
Today, almost 30 months after the murders, Simpson puts his story on the line in
his second day of testifying in a wrongful-death suit filed by the victims'
The time in question: 9:37 p.m. to 10:55 p.m., which includes the time when,
both sides agree, the victims were stabbed outside Nicole's condominium.
On the day after the murders, Simpson told police he said he was running around
the house preparing for a trip to Chicago that night. ``Getting my junk out of the
car . . . throwing hangars and stuff in my suitcase.''
Later, limousine driver Alan Park testified that he arrived at Simpson's house at
10:23. After waiting outside a darkened house until 10:39 p.m., he buzzed
Simpson twice but received no response until 10:55 -- seconds after he saw a tall
person in dark clothing enter the house through the front door.
When Simpson came out, Park testified, he told him he had overslept. ``I just got
out of the shower.''
At Simpson's criminal trial, Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran said Simpson had
been out in the yard chipping golf balls.
In his deposition, Simpson addressed these inconsistencies.
For example, he said he was the figure Park spotted going in the house but said
he was in a bathrobe returning from dropping his bags out front.
At the criminal trial, a witness testified that Simpson's Bronco was not parked
outside the estate when he drove by during the time that Simpson supposedly
was home. In the deposition, Simpson accounts for that by saying he moved the
Bronco from the street so he could unload his golf clubs for his trip. Then he said
he reparked it on another street.
Daniel Petrocelli, lead lawyer for the Goldman family, questioned Simpson on
that at the end of Friday's session, and the exchange between them may offer a
hint on the battle of nuances that will go on today.
Petrocelli asked Simpson why he didn't return his car to its usual spot on Ashford
Street. The estate is on a corner lot.
Simpson parked the car on Rockingham Avenue, which would have left him a
longer walk to the house because the Rockingham gate is not a walk-in and he
would have had to go around to Ashford. Simpson said he parked hurriedly and
raced back in before the gate closed.
Speed was important, he testified, because he always worried about his dog,
Chachi, racing out into the street. Whenever he left the house and pulled out of
the Rockingham gate, he said, he would wait for the gate to close just to be sure
the dog didn't get out.
Former house guest Brian ``Kato'' Kaelin had testified the dog wasn't a problem
because she was too lame to run out the gate. When Petrocelli brought that up,
Simpson rejected it. ``I had numerous complaints from my neighbors, and if you
want to check with the SPCA, they had complained, and told me the next time
they found my dog out, they would take my dog . . . check it.''
But Kaelin already has testified that when Simpson took him to a McDonald's
earlier that evening, he didn't wait for the gate to close or check the location of
This type of detailed questioning is likely to consume much of today's exchange.
Why, for example, didn't Simpson call police when Kaelin told him he had heard
a series of bumps on his rear wall, suggesting a prowler? Why did he switch
stories about cutting himself? He first told police he had cut himself somehow
before the murders. Now he says he's sure he didn't. Petrocelli will ask him to
Of course, some of it will be a simple debate over facts. For example, both Park
and Kaelin testified about a small black bag that Simpson insisted on carrying for
the ride to the airport.
Simpson said he never owned such a bag. He said both are mistaking it for a
duffel bag he brought back from Chicago. Park and Kaelin denied the duffel bag
was the piece they saw. The bag they saw has never been found.
On Friday, Petrocelli appeared to catch Simpson on a series of misstatements
abut his relationship with Nicole and other details. That almost surely raised
doubts about his credibility, analysts say.
Laurie Levenson, dean of Loyola Law School, says Petrocelli has shown that
Simpson is ``either in incredible denial or he's intentionally lying.''
Perhaps the toughest challenge for Petrocelli: exploring Simpson's mind after the
murders. Simpson has attributed his actions to grief and shock.
But Petrocelli believes he can convince jurors that Simpson's actions were
inconsistent with that of an innocent man. Why, for example, did he run out to
the airport to pick up a set of golf clubs and a golf bag two days after the
Why would he contemplate suicide? Why did he bring a disguise, cash and a
passport on his infamous slow-speed chase?
During the next two days, he'll have to explain all that to Petrocelli -- and to the
PHOTO,b/w,Nick Ut,AP; Caption: Alibi to be tested today: O.J. Simpson, with
his lawyer Daniel Leonard, leaves court in Los Angeles after testifying Friday.