CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

The Simpson defense: a case review

O.J. Simpson

Greg LamotteFrom Correspondent Greg LaMotte

Attacking Mark Fuhrman

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- At the start of its case, O.J. Simpson's defense managed to drop what it considered to be a bombshell on the prosecution: an allegation of racism regarding one of the prosecution's own witnesses. Detective Mark Fuhrman testified he found a bloody glove at O.J. Simpson's estate. But the defense alleged Fuhrman may have planted the glove in order to frame Simpson because Fuhrman is a racist. (128K AIFF sound or 128K WAV sound)

Mark Fuhrman

Months later, the defense got its hands on a taped interview with Fuhrman regarding police work, conducted by screenwriter and professor Laura Hart McKinny. The following exchange between defense attorney Johnnie Cochran and McKinny was heard by the jury. (213K AIFF sound or 213K WAV sound)

Laura Hart McKinney

"Did he ever use the racial epithet, which I'll call the 'N' word, during the course of your conversations with him?" Cochran asked.

"Yes, he did," McKinny replied.

"And in the course of preparing for your testimony today, could you tell the jury how many times that you've counted that he used that word?"

"Approximately forty-two."

In that instant, the jury and the world learned that detective Mark Fuhrman had lied.


Challenging credibility of prosecution witnesses

From day one the defense attorneys maintained that there was a rush to judgment by the Los Angeles police. They argued that in their rush to arrest Simpson, police overlooked the possibility of other suspects.

They also said that the lead investigator, detective Philip Vannatter, also lied on the stand. Vannatter had testified that he suspected Simpson when he saw a bloody glove on the defendant's estate. (60K AIFF sound or 60K WAV sound)


Phillip Vannatter



"He became a suspect as soon as I saw the glove at the side of the house."

-- Detective Philip Vannatter

But defense attorneys produced FBI agent Michael Wachs, who said that Vannatter said Simpson was a suspect before police went to his house.

Ron Shipp

Ultimately, Simpson's defense began during the prosecution's case. The strategy was to challenge the credibility of the investigation, the evidence and the witnesses.

For example, Simpson friend and former policeman Ron Shipp testified that Simpson told him the day after the killings of having a dream about killing Nicole Brown Simpson. But the defense raised questions about Shipp's state of mind, and accused him of having a drinking problem. Camalita Durio Simpson, the defendant's sister, was brought to undermine Shipp's testimony. (170K AIFF sound or 170K WAV sound)


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