September 26, 1995
Web posted at: 4 p.m. EDT
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- As closing arguments finally began in the O.J. Simpson case Tuesday, prosecutor Marcia Clark brought charts and maps to make her points, but she began by attacking one of her own witnesses. Prosecutors wished, she said, "there was no such person on the planet" as former detective Mark Fuhrman.
Clark, addressing the jury directly for the first time since the trial's opening statements last January, said it would be wrong not to convict Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman simply because Fuhrman is a racist.
"The fact that Mark Fuhrman is a racist and lied about it on the witness stand does not mean that we haven't proven the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Clark said. "It would be a tragedy if with such overwhelming evidence, ladies and gentlemen, as we have presented to you, you found the defendant not guilty in spite of all that, because of the racist attitudes of one police officer."
The defense has raised all sorts of issues, she said, "in order to scare you." Does the Los Angeles Police Department have "some bad police officers, does the scientific division have some sloppy criminalists, did the coroner's office have some sloppy coroners? And the answer to all these questions is, sure. Yes, they do," Clark said. Things could have been done better, she said, but the defense arguments were intended to "distract" the jury from the "core truth" of the case. She urged jurors to use "the cool wind of reason" to "blow out the smoke screen" that she said was created by the defense.
Fuhrman, who found a bloody glove at Simpson's mansion in the hours after the murders, testified that he had never used the world "nigger" in the past 10 years. Tape recordings and subsequent witnesses showed he had lied. Fuhrman then invoked the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify further in the case.
The defense contends there was a police conspiracy by racist officers who wanted to plant evidence to frame Simpson. Clark responded that the prosecution has proven evidence was not contaminated. "We have even proven to you that it was not `planted,' for lack of a better term," she said.
Clark then began a detailed explanation of the time-line from the night of June 11, 1994, to illustrate the prosecution's contention that Simpson had time to commit the murders before catching a plane to Chicago. Simpson, a pro football Hall of Famer-turned sportscaster, actor and TV pitchman, has pleaded not guilty.
Deputy District Attorney Chris Darden will also address the jury, Clark said. It was reported previously that Clark would be the only prosecutor to present closing arguments.
Earlier, with the jury absent, Judge Lance Ito ruled that neither side may use videotapes in their closing arguments. Ito had already ruled against the defense on the issue, but the prosecution later submitted its own request.
Ito scheduled 11-hour court sessions (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT) for closing arguments so the case can go to the 12 jurors and two remaining alternates as soon as possible. Clark has said her presentation could take less than two days. Simpson's defense has not indicated how long its summation might take. If necessary, closing arguments will continue into next week as each side gets to rebut the arguments of the other.
Closing arguments began exactly one year after jury selection began. The 10-woman, two-man jury includes nine blacks, two whites and one Hispanic.
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