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O.J. Simpson trial focuses on time line, grisly photos

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October 25, 1996
Web posted at 10:30 p.m. EDT

SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- Testimony in O.J. Simpson's civil trial Friday focused on the time of the murders, and a plantiff's witness said he saw a Jeep-like vehicle speeding away from the scene shortly after Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were killed.

In an effort to show that the slayings occurred when Simpson has no alibi, plaintiffs' attorneys called Robert Heidstra, one of Ms. Simpson's neighbors and a defense witness in Simpson's criminal trial.

heidstra

He was walking his dogs and said he heard people arguing at around 10.40 p.m. and about five minutes later saw a vehicle similar to Simpson's speeding away from the scene.

He testified that he was in an alleyway across from Nicole Brown Simpson's condominium when "I heard a clear voice saying 'hey, hey' hey' about three or four times. It was a clear young voice."

Simpson was acquitted of murder last year, but the victims' families are suing him for the wrongful death in a Santa Monica courtroom.

Plenty of time to commit murders

Attorney Daniel Petrocelli, who represents Goldman's father, Fred, told jurors in his opening statement on Wednesday that Simpson would have had plenty of time to commit the murders at 10.45 p.m. and get back to his home nearby in time to meet a limousine driver at 11 p.m. who was taking him to the airport for a flight to Chicago.

By using Heidstra to establish the time of the murders at around 10.45 p.m., the plaintiffs have pushed back the time-line from the one used by prosecutors in the criminal trial who relied on other witnesses to establish the time of the murders at about 10.30 p.m.

dog

Heidstra said that before the apparent argument, he heard Nicole Brown Simpson's Akita dog "barking like crazy, confused, panicky. I thought, 'My God, what's going on here?'"

Sukru Boztepe, the man who first found the bloodied bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman sprawled along a pathway, closed testimony Friday and presented plaintiffs with a way to show the jury crime scene photos.

Jurors looked intently at the picture in which the upper portion of Nicole Brown Simpson's body could be seen on the walkway of her home with a trail of blood stretching down toward the sidewalk.

Boztepe said he was pulled to the murder scene by Ms. Simpson's agitated dog. "I looked in the same direction. I saw a lady laying down and full of blood. I just saw the lady. I could see she was blond."

Ford Bronco 'sped away fast'

Heidstra delivered a similar account. And when shown a picture of Simpson's white Ford Bronco. Heidstra, a car detailer, said "it resembles the size of this car." He said "from nowhere, all of a sudden...from out of the dark came into the light, a white Jeep-like car."

Heidstra said the vehicle "must have been in a hurry. It sped away fast."

O.J. Simpson sat during the testimony often catching the attention of attorney Robert Baker, apparently offering comments and suggestions for possible questioning.

baker

During cross-examination, Baker attempted to attack Heidstra's recollection of the time when he heard the Akita barking and the time that he saw the white utility vehicle driving down Bundy.

Baker cited testimony that Heidstra gave during the criminal trial, when his times were approximately five minutes later than the times in Friday's testimony.

Witness: Goldman not on a date with Nicole

In earlier testimony on Friday, a waiter who worked with Goldman rejected the defense contention that Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were dating. "He (Goldman) didn't say he had a date with Nicole," Stewart Tanner testified.

The duty manager at the Mezzaluna Italian restaurant where Nicole Brown Simpson ate her last meal on June 12, 1994, testified that Simpson's ex-wife had called the restaurant to inquire about a pair of glasses her mother had left behind.

She also asked if Goldman was still working that night, Karen Crawford said. In their opening statement, Simpson's lawyers argued on Thursday that Simpson had been upset that his ex-wife had been partying with prostitutes and drug dealers and that she had become pregnant by a boyfriend and had an abortion.

Crawford and Tanner each approached Goldman's sister Kim, who was weeping in the front row of the courtroom, as they left the stand. Crawford whispered something to her and Tanner put his hand reassuringly in her shoulder.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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