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O.J.'s friend says he doubts Simpson's innocence

October 10, 1996
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Art Harris

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- O.J. Simpson intimate Robert Kardashian says he now has doubts that Simpson is innocent of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and will say so if called to testify in the upcoming civil trial.

The statements were made in an interview with Barbara Walters to air on "ABC's 20-20" Friday evening. The interview was to promote the latest book on the Simpson case, "American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of The Simpson Defense."

"I have doubts," Kardashian said.

Simpson was acquitted last October of the murders of Nicole and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He now faces wrongful-death lawsuits filed by the victims' families.

In the interview, Kardashian said on the day Simpson was to be arrested he found him with a gun in Kardashian's daughter's bedroom and talked him out of killing himself. At first, he prayed with Simpson, he said. Then, he jolted him by warning him he'd "go to hell" if he pulled the trigger. Then he begged Simpson not to do it in his daughter's bedroom because "my daughter couldn't sleep in this bed."

Together they went outside so Simpson could find a more appropriate place to shoot himself, he said.

"He told me at that time, 'I can't live with the pain, the pain is so great,' " Kardashian tells ABC in a partial transcript of the interview obtained by CNN.

A source familiar with the interview told CNN there are more "blockbusters" from Kardashian in the unexpurgated sit-down with Walters.

Outside his house, Kardashian suggested Simpson shoot himself by the backyard swimming pool. "I said, 'Why don't you do it right here,' knowing for some reason that he probably wouldn't. And he said -- looked up at the sun and said, 'I can't do it here, I'll be baking in the sun.' I said 'O.J., you're not going to be here, your spirit's going to be gone. What do you care!' "

So they walked about, and Simpson vetoed several other suicide spots.

That's when his friend A.C. Cowlings took over the suicide watch, and off they went in the Bronco on the famous low- speed chase. Kardashian claims at one point Simpson actually put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, but it didn't go off.

"By taking him around the house, I know I saved his life," Kardashian said. "I also think I did in the Bronco as well as A.C. (Cowlings). A.C. definitely saved his life."

The man with the bag

Kardashian was the man seen carrying Simpson's garment bag the day Simpson flew back from Chicago. Prosecutors speculated the bag may have contained Simpson's bloody clothes and or the murder weapon. But Kardashian says -- as he told CNN a year ago -- that he took the bag from Simpson's secretary and doesn't know what was inside because he never looked.

He says he tried to give the bag to police at the house, but they refused to take his luggage. "The police could have taken it an at any time," he said.

"They never sought to do so, in fact when we turned it in to the court nine months later, they still never did any tests to see if there was blood. I don't believe they really wanted to know the answer. I think it was better to leave speculation and to let the public think there was something sinister about these bags!"

Plea bargain suggested

He also says attorney Robert Shapiro suggested Simpson plead to a lesser charge and that Kardashian plead as an accessory to murder -- something that outraged both Simpson and Kardashian.

F. Lee Bailey gave CNN the same account, but Shapiro denies it. Prosecutor Gil Garcetti said that no such plea was ever discussed.

Kardashian says Simpson also badly flunked a lie detector test given by the defense. He explained his performance by saying, his "heart was pounding" every time he heard Nicole's name.

Asked if collaborating on a book about intimate defense details doesn't violate attorney client privilege, Kardashian appears to tap dance in his answer by saying the court will have to determine that since he's on a witness list for the civil trial.

He also says:

  • Shapiro earned the most money on the dream team--$100,000 a month, or $1.2 million, as CNN has reported, but that Simpson still owes him money;

  • Shapiro believed Simpson was guilty. "I overheard Mr.Shapiro at one point in the courtroom--during a break, say to Mr. Simpson we should plea bargain; you would get 12 years or whatever it was; and Robert Kardashian would get so much time as an jaw dropped...I was astounded! And I was shaking!, I was so mad, so upset...He knew that I knew nothing about any of this!"

Kardashian says Simpson yelled at Shapiro, saying, "What are you talking about? I don't ever want to hear this again! I didn't do this!"

Confronted with Shapiro's denial, Kardashian insists he's the one telling the truth, and that the reason Shapiro was shoved aside as the lead attorney was because "we didn't need our lead attorney having concerns about guilt." He said "Johnnie Cochran related better to Mr. Simpson" and knew how to court a predominantly African American jury.

Racial makeover

In the Walters interview Lawrence Schiller, one of the authors of the book, said the defense gave Simpson's house a racial makeover to make it more palatable to the predominantly black jury. He says lawyers took photos of white women off the wall at Simpson's home before the jury tour, and replaced them with black faces. "The white women came off the walls, and the black women came marching in," Schiller told Walters.


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