September 3, 1995
From Correspondent Jim Hill
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- It could be a dramatic confrontation if the defense calls former detective Mark Fuhrman to the witness stand.
He's made racist comments on audio tapes, and O.J. Simpson's lawyers want to show Fuhrman lied when he earlier testified he didn't use racial slurs. Fuhrman may respond by invoking the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer any questions about the issue. But with his credibility in question, the jury may disregard all his testimony and the crucial evidence he found, such as the bloody glove on Simpson's property.
In tapes introduced by the defense, Fuhrman can be heard talking to screen writer Laura Hart McKinny about Black Muslims. "Why do they live in that area?" asked McKinny. "That's where the n----- live," replied Fuhrman.
Fuhrman continued to make racist remarks in McKinny's transcripts, telling her, "We have no n----- where I grew up". Last March when Simpson attorney F. Lee Bailey asked Fuhrman on the stand, "So if anybody were to say that you used the word n----- in the past 10 years ... that person would be lying ... is that what you're saying?" Fuhrman replied, "That's what I'm saying."
Judge Lance Ito allowed into evidence only two racial statements by Fuhrman from a total of 41 on the transcripts. That decision angered the defense, moving Johnnie Cochran to say he may not use the statements at all. But the defense is apparently divided on the issue. "My preference is that they should be used," said Robert Shapiro. "The jury should hear as much evidence as possible and this is relevant evidence. ...
"From a person's mouth to hear these derogatory terms is shocking to everybody and it will be something that will have a big impact on the jury."
The issue has come to dominate the trial and courthouse hecklers have jeered Fuhrman's attorney. He has said Fuhrman may invoke the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination and refuse to talk about the racist remarks. Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of Southern California said, "The key question, and one we won't know the answer to until after jury deliberations, is will the jury then dismiss all of Mark Fuhrman's testimony from consideration."
The defense also may call several witnesses who say they heard Fuhrman make racist comments, among them Kathleen Bell, who said she was an acquaintance of Fuhrman's, and Natalie Singer, who said she was visited by Fuhrman and another officer.
To play off the Fuhrman issue even more, the defense has filed a motion that may be ruled on this week, asking that all evidence found by Fuhrman and other detectives in Simpson's home and Bronco be tossed out.
Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.