EDTA Testimony Leaves Simpson Jurors’ Eyes Glazed
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Declaring FBI scientist Roger Martz a hostile witness didn’t help. Neither did sharp questioning by defense attorney Robert Blasier.
Jurors in the O.J. Simpson trial had long since checked out.
Over and over again, Martz testified that his tests showed no signs of a police crime lab preservative in blood on a crime-scene gate and a sock at Simpson’s mansion.
Blasier hammered Martz from all directions Wednesday, questioning his measuring abilities, ridiculing his ignorance of the math number pi, branding him a prosecution hack and suggesting he was so dumb he couldn’t use a calculator.
And still Martz remained firm.
``I was able to determine the bloodstains on the sock and the gate did not come from preserved blood,″ he said, debunking the defense claim that the presence of the preservative, EDTA, means the blood was taken from tubes at the crime lab and planted by police.
This was the umpteenth time he testified that he found no significant levels of EDTA in the evidence blood, and jurors had stopped paying close attention.
They took hardly any notes during Blasier’s sharp redirect questioning, which took the form of a cross-examination since the judge granted a defense request to declare Martz a hostile witness. They took even fewer notes when prosecutor Marcia Clark tried to rehabilitate him.
Mostly, they appeared bored, staring into space, distracted at the smallest noise in the courtroom. Their attention waned even though it was a half day in court, the morning session canceled so the judge and attorneys could attend the funeral of a murdered bailiff.
With Martz’s testimony complete, the trial’s focus moves back to the bloody gloves in evidence.
Herbert MacDonell, a blood spatter expert, is the next witness on the defense list for today. He is expected to shoot down the prosecution theory that the evidence gloves didn’t fit Simpson in a courtroom demonstration because of shrinkage from being soaked in blood.
Also on today’s agenda were legal arguments on whether the judge should bar testimony on whether Detective Mark Fuhrman is a racist, whether the defense must hand over a tape of a message left by Simpson on a cheerleader’s answering machine the night of the murders, and whether the head of the crime lab should have to testify about an alleged news leak.
Simpson’s lawyers say he was home alone during the June 12, 1994, knife murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The defense is attempting to prove this week that he was the victim of a police conspiracy.
On Wednesday, Martz _ accused of being biased against Simpson _ was declared a hostile witness. But he insisted he was just trying to be truthful when he abruptly changed the tenor of his testimony.
``Did you decide ... you had to become an advocate?″ Blasier asked as he went on the attack.
``I decided I had to be more truthful,″ Martz replied. ``I was not being entirely truthful with yes and no answers. ... I decided I wanted to tell the whole truth.″
The turnaround in Martz’s demeanor came Tuesday, after he had answered a series of questions indicating that evidence bloodstains were ``consistent″ with the presence of EDTA.
The chemical, found in food and many household products, is used to prevent clotting of blood samples.
EDTA is the key to the defense theory that Simpson’s blood was taken from a test tube and scattered on a gate outside Ms. Simpson’s condominium. The defense also says blood drawn from Ms. Simpson’s body was planted on socks found at the foot of Simpson’s bed.
The defense had to call Martz to the stand because he did the actual EDTA tests. Another defense expert, Fredric Rieders, only analyzed Martz’s results.
Rieders, who preceded Martz to the stand and returns for more testimony Friday, said he believed there was EDTA in the evidence samples. Martz says Rieders misinterpreted the test results.
Law professor Robert Pugsley of Southwestern University thought Blasier’s harsh questioning of Martz, the defense’s own witness, was most effective at its outset.
``When he was focusing on the issue of prosecutorial bias _ that was effective and powerful,″ Pugsley said, referring to Blasier’s insinuations that the FBI agent had a bias towards the district attorney’s office.
``But he diffused the impact of that by getting very deep into the minutiae of science and testing,″ Pugsley added.
Also Wednesday, a transcript showed that the judge threatened Clark with ``severe sanctions″ if she continued to comment on the testimony of defense witnesses in court. Last week, he fined her $250 for a similar transgression.
``Miss Clark, I cautioned you to be careful earlier,″ Ito told her in a sidebar conference Monday during Rieders’ testimony. ``Your commentary on testimony, I realize you’re enjoying yourself, but I’m warning you right now, warning you in no uncertain terms, if I see any more of that commentary, there’s going to be severe sanctions, and I underline the word, `severe.‴