CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Shapiro denies trying to arrange plea bargain

Shapiro Feud rips apart Simpson defense team

October 6, 1995
Web posted at: 2 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent Art Harris

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Within hours of the O.J. Simpson case verdict, a behind-the-scenes rift in the Simpson defense team became public.

Shapiro blasted two of his defense colleagues. One of them, F. Lee Bailey, hit back. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Bailey said Shapiro urged Simpson to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Bailey "Bob Shapiro did everything in this world to try to get a plea bargain going before Johnnie Cochran got in the case because that was the only way he was going to stay in control," Bailey said. (158K .aiff sound or 158K .wav sound)

Bailey said Shapiro suggested a deal in which Simpson would plead guilty to manslaughter and Robert Kardashian, Simpson's long- time business partner and confidant, would plead guilty as an accessory after the fact for concealing evidence.

News cameras captured Kardashian walking away with Simpson's garment bag the day after the murders. Prosecutors raised questions what Kardashian had done with the bag. "Don't you want to know what was in that bag?" prosecutor Christopher Darden asked the jury during closing arguments.

Bailey said that when the scenario was put to Simpson, he got angry and rejected it. Simpson has consistently maintained his innocence.

King/Shapiro When asked about Bailey's charges, Shapiro told CNN he "never talked at any time with anybody about a plea bargain."

On CNN's "Larry King Live" Thursday night, Shapiro called the allegations regarding Kardashian "absurd" and "totally untrue."

Gerald Uelman, a member of the defense team, told CNN that Bailey's charges are "make believe."

Lead prosecutor Marcia Clark told CNN Thursday that prosecutors never discussed a plea bargain among themselves or with the defense.

Kardashian Kardashian couldn't be reached for comment, but he has repeatedly denied any wrong-doing. At a defense team victory party Tuesday, he said prosecutors had nothing on him. "If they had evidence against me, they should have filed charges against me as an accessory," he said. "I would never do anything like that, never. I'm a successful businessman. I would never be an accessory to any crime, let alone double murder." (285K .aiff sound or 285K .wav sound)

As for what was in the bag, Kardashian said, "I would gladly have told them what I knew ... which is I don't know. I never opened it."

Shapiro did not celebrate with the rest of the team the night after Simpson was freed, but in a broadcast interview he criticized Cochran for "dealing the race card" and for comparing Mark Fuhrman to Adolf Hitler.

"I've always said ... race would not and should not be an element of this case," Shapiro said Thursday on "Larry King." "On every crucial element in this case there is at least reasonable doubt, and in many cases real doubt." (255K .aiff sound or 255K .wav sound)

Cochran Shapiro backed away from harsh criticism of Cochran and chalked up differences to "personality clashes." (300K .aiff sound or 300K .wav sound)

Those clashes produced a bitter end to the long and bitter trial, and for Bailey, an end to his friendship with Shapiro.

"It doesn't make me feel very badly because Bob has not been behaving very well lately," Bailey said. "He's said some awful things to people. He's told people he thought his client was guilty, which is about as great a transgression as you can make. O.J. has always said, and to my satisfaction, demonstrated, otherwise."

King asked Shapiro if he believed Simpson was innocent. "I don't know, more than you or anyone else," Shapiro said. "I wasn't there. The only person or persons who know are the killers." (225K .aiff sound or 225K .wav sound)


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