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O.J. Simpson trial: Daughter says Simpson distraught over murders

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(Court TV) -- Developments in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson from July 10-14, 1995

The defense began its case with testimony that O.J. Simpson was distraught and grief stricken about the death of his former wife.

A contingent of Simpson's family members appeared in the courtroom. His mother, sister, daughter and first wife, all dressed in yellow, sat together in the front row in a show of support .

The defense has said its case will be short and snappy. It was on Monday, with five witnesses testifying.

First to take the stand was Simpson's eldest daughter, 26-year-old Arnelle, who testified that her father was "emotional," "distraught" and "out of control" when he learned about Nicole Brown Simpson's death. She was followed by one of Simpson's sisters, Carmelita Simpson-Durio, who described her brother's demeanor after hearing about the murders: "What I would say is he was out of it," she said. "He was shocked, dazed."

Arnelle Simpson testified that after learning about the murders in the early morning of June 13, her father sounded overwrought and perplexed over the telephone. Whe he returned home from Chicago, he was in shock and disbelief, she said.

The testimony differed from prosecution witness Ronald Shipp, a former police officer and Simpson friend. He had testified that Simpson showed little remorse about his ex-wife's death and even told Shipp on June 13 that he sometimes dreamed about killing his former wife.

Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr. spent much of the day attacking Shipp. At one point he got Arnelle Simpson to recall she had once seen Shipp -- who is married -- in the Jacuzzi at Rockingham with a woman with "dirty blond" hair.

Cochran also repeatedly asked Arnelle Simpson where she had seen Shipp when friends and family gathered at the Rockingham estate on June 13. The witness said that as her grieving father sat on a couch holding his mother's hand, Shipp remained at the bar of the home's living room, drinking a beer; though Arnelle Simpson said she didn't see him drinking more than one, Cochran persisted and even asked if Shipp had been drunk.

During Arnelle Simpson's testimony, the jury also heard for the first time that Simpson and his former wife got back together in March 1993 and dated up until May 1994. She also testified that after the couple's final break-up several weeks before the murders, the two were on such good terms that Nicole Brown Simpson was sitting on Simpson's lap at a picnic and napping in his bed.

Arnelle Simpson also testified that she did not see any blood in the foyer or in the driveway of the Rockingham estate on the morning after the murders.

She also testified that she had never seen her father wear a bluish-black sweat suit. Brian Kaelin previously testified that Simpson was wearing such an outfit on the night of the killings, and prosecutors say that suit was the source of fibers on a glove found at Simpson's estate after the killings, on socks found at the foot of Simpson's bed and on Ronald Goldman's blood-soaked shirt.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Marcia Clark drove home the point that Arnelle Simpson could not account for her father's whereabouts at about 10 pm on the night of the murders.

Simpson's 73-year-old mother, Eunice, then took the witness stand. Aided by defense lawyer Carl Douglas and a sheriff's deputy, and using a cane, she hobbled to the stand and took the oath sitting down. She said that she needed the cane because she had rheumatoid arthritis, which she said ran in her family, with her son having it "most of all."

"Oh he seemed very upset," she said of her son's demeanor after the killings. "Shocked."

Both Eunice Simpson and Carmelita Durio testified that they saw Shipp at the bar of Simpson's home after the murders. Eunice Simpson testified that Shipp appeared "spaced," while Durio said she believed that Shipp "was high" and that he had never been alone with Simpson that evening.

Under cross-examination, Durio said she did not know whether Shipp's demeanor was the result of his crying over Nicole Simpson's death.

The family members were followed by two longtime acquaintances of Simpson. Carol Conner, a philanthropist and songwriter, discussed Simpson's mood at a fund-raiser the night before the murders. Mary Collins, Simpson's interior designer for 20 years, discussed meeting with him on June 6, 1994, to talk about redecorating his home.

On Monday, the defense also tried to introduce a letter Nicole Brown Simpson wrote Simpson in March 1993. In the letter, she pleaded with him to reconcile their marriage and asked him to let her back in his life. The defense wanted to introduce the letter to contradict prosecution claims that Simpson was obsessed with his former wife and would do anything to get her back. But Judge Lance Ito ruled the letter was not relevant.

The defense began chipping away at the prosecution's timeline. Several witnesses testified that they did not hear anything unusual near the murder scene at the time the state claims the killings took place.

The witnesses included Dan Mandel and Ellen Aaronson, who were on their first date. They each testified that they walked past Nicole Brown Simpson's home at about 10:30 pm on June 12. The area appeared normal, and they did not hear any dog barking, they said.

But the most dramatic testimony of the day came from one of Nicole Brown Simpson's neighbors. Robert Heidstra testified that around 10:40 pm, while he was standing near her condominium, he heard two men arguing.

One yelled "Hey! Hey! Hey!" Heidstra said. The other male voiced shouted back, but Heidstra said he could not make out what the other voice was saying because Nicole Brown Simpson's Akita dog was barking hysterically. "Then I heard a gate slam, bang!" he said.

The prosecution has placed the time of the murders at about 10:15 pm, giving Simpson time to commit the murders and return home to catch a limousine ride to the airport. The defense wants to push the murders as close to 11pm when Simpson has an alibi.

Even if the murders occurred at 10:40 pm, Simpson still had time to make it home by 11pm because his home is just a five-minutes away if driving at the speed limit, according to earlier police testimony.

Tuesday's testimony does raise questions about the source of the three thumps that Brian Kaelin said he heard outside his guest room at the Rockingham estate. Kaelin said he heard the noise at about 10:40 pm.

Another witness, Francesca Harmon, said she drove by Nicole Simpson's apartment at around 10:30 p.m. on the night of the murders and saw nothing unusual. She also did not hear a dog barking in the neighborhood at that time.

Tuesday's first defense witness was Simpson's older sister Shirley Simpson-Baker, who said that when she arrived at his mansion the day after the murders her brother was "'devastated. He was crying, he was sad, he was in disbelief, he was in shock,"' she said.

Simpson-Baker was followed on the stand by Jack McKay, a psychological association executive who played golf with Simpson in Virginia on June 8. McKay described Simpson as "very cordial, friendly, very willing to shake hands, sign autographs, have pictures taken.

A defense witness testified that he saw a white vehicle similar to O.J. Simpson's leaving the crime scene the night Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman were slain.

Robert Heidstra, Nicole Simpson's neighbor, made the disclosure as prosecutors aggressively questioned him and tried to attack his credibility.

Prosecutor Christopher Darden also pressed Heidstra on a statement he allegedly made to a friend that Simpson's voice may have been one of two he heard as he walked his dogs near the crime scene on June 12, 1994.

The question triggered an angry exchange between Darden and defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran. After Judge Lance Ito sent the jury out, Darden said he asked the question in good faith. He said Heidstra told a friend, Patricia Barrett, that he could identify one of the men as a young white man and the other as an older black man.

"You can't tell by someone's voice when they're black," Cochran said. "That's racist. This statement about whether somebody sounds black or white is racist, and I resent it. I think it's totally improper in America at this time in 1995 just to hear this and endure this."

Darden explained to Ito that the statement was allegedly made by the witness, not him.

"If the statement is racist, then he is the racist, not me, OK?," Darden said, looking at Cochran.

"I didn't say you," Cochran answered.

"That's what you're suggesting," Darden said. "That's created a lot of problems for my family and myself, statements with race..."

Ito, disgusted with the exchange, announced "I'm so mad at both of you guys, I'm about to hold you both in contempt."

"I apologize, your honor," Darden said.

"It'll take more than that," Ito said, stepping off the bench and calling a recess.

When Heidstra returned to the witness stand, he denied telling anyone about the identity of the voices.

Heidstra's testimony Wednesday's appeared to help both sides.

In his direct examination, Heidstra said he saw the white vehicle, -- possibly a Blazer or a Jeep Cherokee -- pull up to the corner of Bundy Drive and Dorothy Street about 10:45 pm. He also said the vehicle was headed south rather than north towards Simpson's home.

But under cross-examination, Heidstra conceded that the vehicle could have been a Ford Bronco.

Although waffling on the identity of the vehicle, Heidstra never wavered from his time estimates, which conflict with the prosecution's time line for the murders.

Other witnesses have accounted for Simpson's whereabouts at about 9:45 pm and just minutes before 11 pm. Prosecutors contend the murders occurred about 10:15 or 10:20 pm, about the time neighbors heard dogs barking loudly.

By the end of his cross-examination, Darden appeared intent on shrinking the time line to fit Heidstra's account.

The prosecutor suggested that even if Heidstra were right about the time, Simpson could have committed the murders, raced home two miles away, cleaned up and met a waiting limousine to go to the airport.

The next three witnesses also gave testimony that helped both sides.

Wayne Stanfield, the American Airlines captain who piloted Simpson's flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, testified that he did not see any cuts on Simpson's hands. Under cross-examination, Stanfield admitted that he wasn't looking for any cuts when he met Simpson.

Michael Norris and Michael Gladden, airport employees who both spoke with Simpson at the airport, also said they did not notice any cuts or injuries to his hands. The prosecution used the witnesses to attack the defense position that Simpson was too crippled by arthritis to commit the murders. Both men said Simpson was carrying his luggage and showed no pain when he bent down to pick them up.

The defense suffered a major setback when Judge Lance Ito ruled it could not suggest the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were drug-related.

The judge barred testimony from Faye Resnick's former boyfriend, Christian Reichardt, regarding Resnick's alleged drug habit. Although the judge ruled Reichardt could testify about Simpson's demeanor during the week before the murders, he sided with prosecutors on the drug-related killing issue, ruling there wasn't any evidence linking another person to the murders or evidence of motive for another person to commit the crimes.

The defense then decided not to call Reichardt as a witness -- at least for now. The defense had wanted him to testify that Resnick was a cocaine addict and possibly the intended murder victim.

In his ruling, Judge Ito cited California Supreme Court rulings which repeatedly held that mere motive or opportunity of a third party to commit a crime is insufficient to raise a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. Therefore, evidence of such motive is irrelevant and inadmissable. The rulings have held that there must be evidence linking the third party to the killings.

The decision curtailed a crucial defense theory that attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr. raised in his opening statement, which has been alluded to during the trial. For example, there has been testimony about Columbian neckties -- a typical drug-related killing in which the killer slices the victim's throat.

Meanwhile, testimony focused on Simpson's behavior on the night of June 12, 1994 and the following day.

A succession of witnesses testified that Simpson was cordial and relaxed on the flight from Los Angeles to Chicago and did not have a cut on his left hand.

The fact is Simpson told police he cut his finger in Los Angeles. The defense may be attempting to force prosecutors to introduce the statement Simpson gave to police. The prosecution has not yet introduced the statement, because most of it is consistent with the defense assertions that at the time of the murders Simpson was running around trying to get ready for his trip. The only inconsistent statements are that he cut his finger in Los Angeles and that Simpson said he never hit his former wife.

On the flight home from Chicago, witnesses who either took Simpson to the airport or accompanied him back to Los Angeles, described him as frantic, looking skyward, sighing and moaning frequently. His left finger was either wrapped in a bloody Band-Aid or wrapped in a paper towel, they said.

Cochran asked Mark Partridge, a copyright lawyer from Chicago who was on the plane to Los Angeles, whether Simpson appeared to be acting. "I thought the way he was behaving was very sincere," replied Partridge, to whom Simpson had confided the news about the murders. Even so, Partridge said, Simpson complied when asked for an autograph.

"I thought, 'What a nice man this was to be doing this, having heard about the tragedy that had struck his life,' " testified Partridge, who has copyrighted each of the eight pages of the statement he prepared two days after the flight.

The defense moved into a new phase of its case by presenting medical evidence that O.J. Simpson was physically incapable of committing the murders.

Dr. Robert Huizenga told the jury that although Simpson had "the body of Tarzan," he "walked like Tarzan's grandfather."

A Beverly Hills private intern, Huizenga examined Simpson on June 15, 1994, three days after the murders and then again two days later. He said Simpson was suffering from osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, which most likely prevented him from running or doing any other aerobic activity.

Huizenga also testified that three fresh cuts on the ring and middle fingers of Simpson's left hand probably were caused by glass, rather than a knife, as suggested by the prosecution. The doctor said the cuts were three-quarters of an inch to one-quarter of an inch long. "I think for the constellation of all the wounds, it seemed more likely that glass was the cause," he said.

He testified he also carefully looked for cuts, scratches and bruises on Simpson's body that may have indicated he had a struggle with someone. He said he found no evidence of such wounds.

Huizenga, a former team physician for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1983 to 1990, said Simpson had constant pain from surgery on his left wrist following a football injury in 1965. He had received multiple finger fractures, "which is pretty common in football," said Huizenga. Simpson also had developed large knuckles typical of osteoarthritis, and he suffered from osteoarthritis in his left knee.

But in a blow to the defense, Huizenga conceded under cross-examination that despite Simpson's arthritic condition, he was strong enough to kill two people with a single-edged knife.

Meanwhile, a judge in Florida ordered Keith Zlomsowitch, a boyfriend of Nicole Brown Simpson, to travel to California for the defense. They want Zlomsowitch to help defuse prosecution claims that Simpson is a jealous man. Zlomsowitch testified before the grand jury that Simpson witnessed him and Nicole Simpson having sex on a couch at her home. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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