Simpson defense portrays evidence as tainted
Jonathan T. Lovitt ; Gale Holland
LOS ANGELES -- Lawyers for O.J. Simpson used the first full day of their
defense Tuesday to try to portray police and crime lab witnesses as conspirators
Their goal is to revive suggestions of evidence-planting and contamination that
were central to Simpson's defense against charges of murder in the deaths of his
ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
Simpson was acquitted. He now is the defendant in a civil trial. The plaintiffs,
parents of the victims, sued for damages.
Simpson's lawyers relied on faces that became familiar to much of the nation
during the televised criminal trial. Some altered their testimony slightly:
Andrea Mazzola, the rookie technician who collected much of the crime-scene
evidence, said she now is convinced that she didn't initial all the blood evidence.
Earlier, she said she did. Criminal defense lawyers had used the lack of initials to
argue that blood swatches were switched at the police crime lab.
Police nurse Thano Peratis, who drew Simpson's blood sample the day after the
killings, said his memory had weakened since the first trial.
``One of the side effects of the heart problem you had is memory loss?'' defense
lawyer Robert Blasier asked.
``Yes,'' Peratis said.
In the first trial, Peratis changed his story about whether he drew a full vial of
blood from Simpson. The defense says blood taken from that vial was planted as
evidence to implicate Simpson.
Also on Tuesday, former Los Angeles police detective Philip Vannatter said he
used an unsealed envelope to carry the Simpson blood vial to Simpson's estate.
The defense says Vannatter planted blood there; the detective says he turned the
vial over to a criminalist for testing.
And former police detective Tom Lange denied that he ``rushed to judgment''
against Simpson in order to enhance his record.
``You knew the LAPD had been under great pressure for not getting high-profile
arrests; you wanted to arrest Mr. Simpson?'' defense lawyer Bob Baker asked.
``That's nonsense,'' Lange responded sharply.
Lange will continue testifying today. He also argued with Baker about Mark
Fuhrman, the detective who says he found the now-famous bloody glove on
Baker suggested that Fuhrman was alone long enough to have planted blood in
Simpson's Ford Bronco.
``I don't know if he was ever out of my sight,'' Lange said.