September 27, 1995
Web posted at 4:00 p.m. EDT
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Prosecutors concluded their closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, painting O.J. Simpson as an abusive man with a "short fuse" whose desire to control his ex-wife led to an "explosion" that left Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman dead. They pointed out that the defense had failed to call an expert on domestic violence to explain Simpson's relationship with his ex-wife.
Lead prosecutor Marcia Clark told CNN she will wait to see what the defense says before planning what she predicted would be a passionate finale for the prosecution.
In a private meeting with attorneys before Wednesday's court session, Judge Lance Ito announced that jurors will receive a questionnaire asking whether they want to deliberate on weeknight evenings and on Saturdays. All deliberations would have to be held at the courthouse. Ito also ordered attorneys to be available on one hour's notice for any juror questions or for any readback of testimony in open court.
Standing in front of a chart labeled "Defendant's Abuse of Nicole," prosecutor Christopher Darden told the jury, "There is something very wrong here." He then replayed for jurors the dramatic tape of an October 25, 1993, call to 911 in which a screaming O.J. Simpson can be heard shouting at Nicole Brown Simpson about a picture of man she dated months before. "A year and a half and he still hasn't gotten over it," Darden said. "We offer you this tape so you will know who you are dealing with." (451K AIFF sound or 451K WAV sound)
Standing before another chart, this one with a time line of incidents in the Simpson relationship, Darden said, "This is all about control, the beating and the humiliation. That's how you control people."
During the playing of the 911 tape, all of the jurors stared intently at Darden. One or two took notes. Kris Jenner, a friend of Nicole Brown's, put a comforting hand on the shoulder of Juditha Brown, Nicole's mother. Both women, along with Nicole's sister, Tanya, and Candace Garvey, another of Nicole's friends, cried throughout the playing of the 911 tape. The bailiff passed out tissues to all of them. During Darden's closing arguments, Carmelita Durio, O.J. Simpson's sister, occasionally shook her head, apparently in disagreement.
Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran had promised in opening statements to call Dr. Lenore Walker, an expert on battered women, to explain that Simpson was not abusive, Darden pointed out. "Why isn't she here?" he asked. "This is important evidence. I wish Dr. Walker had been here to explain this to you. I'm sure she could have done a better job than I have."
Darden began his portion of the closing arguments Tuesday by telling the jury that Simpson was a "burning fuse" that burned shorter and shorter until "there was an explosion" that led to the murders.
Going step by step through the events of June 12, 1994, Darden said Simpson was angry at Nicole because she had rejected his attempts to maintain their relationship. "There are no rules for celebrities," Darden said. "Being a celebrity means getting what you want. But on June 12, he doesn't get what he wants."
Critiquing her performance during her portion of closing arguments on Tuesday, prosecutor Clark told CNN's Art Harris she wanted to "lay the building blocks" of the prosecution case against Simpson without excess rhetoric. In an exclusive interview, Clark said she hopes the jury members will say to themselves, "Let's stand back and think calmly and rationally" about what prosecutors call a mountain of evidence against Simpson. "For me, closing arguments are about laying out the facts. First you need the building blocks," she said.
Clark said sometimes too much emotion can get in the way of the facts and she wanted to force the jury to look at the facts. Clark said she was trying to weave together a time line for the murder, a motive, and all the physical evidence in the hope that the jury would see that it all points only to O.J. Simpson. "We've got plenty of time to get emotional," Clark told CNN.
Transcripts of a sidebar discussion held Tuesday reveal that O.J. Simpson did not want television coverage of the closing arguments terminated after learning the camera had shown a close-up of notes he was writing. Ito called the attorneys to sidebar to inform them what had happened. "I was just watching the television coverage on the monitor I have underneath my bench -- you know, I can watch TV -- and I just happened to notice the camera come down to a close-up of the notes Mr. Simpson has in front of him," he told the attorneys.
Ito said he was ready to terminate the coverage, but the attorneys opposed that move. Instead, they suggested a fine be imposed. Ito asked Cochran to check with his client. "What's your guy got to say?" Ito asked. "First of all," Cochran said, "he's going to cover it up, and he said he agreed with us, that he thinks you should make note and fine them, fine them for it. But he's OK. He's just writing notes to himself. He is going to cover it up."
Cochran also objected to having the television coverage terminated before the defense could present its closing argument. "If you terminate the coverage, we'd like half of our argument shown, too. Otherwise, we have the same problem we had before" he said, referring to when the camera was turned off during opening statements after it inadvertently showed a juror in the courtroom. Cochran asked Ito to tell the camera operator to stay off the notes of the attorneys and to "fine them or threaten them." Darden agreed. "I can't believe they did that," he said. "What are they thinking?"
For a second day Wednesday, Cochran came to court surrounded by bodyguards hired from the Nation of Islam. The big, burley bodyguards wearing bow-ties and carrying walkie- talkies escorted Cochran into the courthouse. "We've gotten a lot of threats and an awful lot of hate mail that seems to have increased in the last month or so," said defense attorney Robert Blasier. "We just want to be careful. We don't want anything to happen." Blasier would not confirm that the bodyguards were members of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, but one of the guards later told CNN he was a member of the group.
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