Bloomingdale’s Glove Buyer Identifies Murder Evidence
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Prosecutors tried Thursday to show that Nicole Brown Simpson unwittingly outfitted her ex-husband for her own murder by purchasing a unique pair of men’s leather gloves on a visit to Bloomingdale’s in New York.
O.J. Simpson’s attorney challenged identification of the gloves by a Bloomingdale’s buyer, suggesting that a credit card receipt signed by Ms. Simpson on Dec. 18, 1990, had nothing to do with a glove found at the scene of Ms. Simpson’s murder and the apparent mate found at Simpson’s estate.
Brenda Vemich, a Bloomingdale’s buyer, testified that the dark brown, extra-large Aris Leather Light gloves placed before her on the witness stand were a style designed only for the department store. She cited the light leather, special stitching, cashmere lining and palm-side vent as exclusive characteristics.
But there was a glitch.
When prosecutor Christopher Darden presented a blowup of the sales slip, it bore a style number different from the one assigned to the estimated 12,000 pairs Vemich said were purchased for the fall of 1990. She said she thought the one-digit difference in the style number was a mistake by the salesperson.
Vemich said of the overall purchase from Aris Isotoner, 300 pairs were brown, size extra-large. Of those, she estimated 200 likely were sold.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. slipped on both blood-stained gloves and continuously tugged at them, trying to show jurors they were too small for his hand, which is much smaller than Simpson’s.
``Do these run small?″ the attorney asked.
``They stretch,″ the witness said, adding sharply that the gloves were too big for Cochran.
The glove testimony followed the conclusion of a nine-day endurance run by the county coroner on the witness stand. Distinct physical images marked the day, with defense attorney Robert Shapiro at one point turning and twisting a knife to demonstrate the many angles at which it could stab or slash.
Shapiro’s cross-examination of coroner Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran was designed to show that a left-handed person could have killed Ms. Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman and that more than one killer could have been involved.
The coroner acknowledged he couldn’t be ``certain″ whether the killer was right-handed or left-handed but quickly added, ``The last wound on Nicole Brown Simpson had to be a right-handed person.″ Simpson is right-handed.
Shapiro also showed jurors how Goldman might have kicked his assailant in an attempt to escape the killer’s hold, but the coroner was adamant that Goldman didn’t fight fiercely for his life.
While Shapiro worked aggressively to undermine the coroner’s testimony, prosecutors moved to upstage the cross-examination on another front, by filing documents alleging additional evidence of domestic abuse by Simpson.
Their motion alleges that Simpson quarreled with his ex-wife and pushed her against a car with enough force to cause a thud.
Elizabeth Holmes, a personal trainer for Simpson’s neighbors, said she saw the confrontation outside Simpson’s estate in January 1994, five months before the June 12, 1994, murders.
Another witness, a part-time baby sitter for the two young Simpson children, claimed Simpson stalked his ex-wife and repeatedly called her _ as many as 50 times in two hours one weekend.
Gioconda Redfern, hired by Ms. Simpson in February 1992, said her slain employer once told her of a beating by Simpson and said, ``O.J. had gotten on his knees and swore to her parents that it would never happen again and was going to a counselor.″
The documents filed by prosecutors indicated they aren’t through with the domestic violence phase of their case and have continued their investigation to prove Simpson had a motive for murder.
Holmes, the personal trainer, said she was next-door at the home of Simpson’s neighbors when Ms. Simpson drove her Ferrari up his driveway and was confronted by an angry Simpson.
She said Simpson berated his ex-wife for going to Aspen, Colo., and being photographed there without him, shouting, ``How could you go to Aspen?″
``While Simpson was yelling at her, he shoved her against a vehicle that Holmes believed was a Bentley,″ said an investigator’s report. ``Holmes said she heard a loud `thud’ after Nicole hit the vehicle.″
Simpson, charged in both murders, listened raptly as Shapiro questioned the coroner.
The cross-examination was relatively brief _ about four hours _ because the prosecution had pre-empted much of the defense attack on Lakshmanan’s office. Deputy District Attorney Brian Kelberg had Lakshmanan demolish the credibility of his own assistant, Dr. Irwin Golden, by admitting up front Golden made dozens of mistakes in the autopsies.
Nevertheless, legal analysts said Shapiro managed to raise significant questions.
``I think he has raised the kind of questions that go straight to the heart of reasonable doubt,″ said professor Robert Pugsley of Southwestern University School of Law.
Among those questions, Pugsley said, were: Was it just one killer? If one, was he or she right- or left-handed? Was it just one weapon? How would an athletic person like Goldman not give more resistance?
At the heart of Shapiro’s examination was the point that Lakshmanan didn’t do the autopsies and was relying on photographs and Golden’s questionable conclusions for his opinions.
Shapiro continued the defense assault on how the autopsies were conducted, suggesting that a construction worker watched Goldman’s autopsy. Lakshmanan said that was possible although he would have preferred that unauthorized people not be in the area.
Shapiro also noted bruises and cuts on Goldman’s knuckles and suggested he might have punched his assailant. Lakshmanan, who said the injuries occurred when Goldman’s hands struck a tree or gate, acknowledged Goldman was a physically fit young man who could have put up a struggle.
``A normal human being is not going to just allow somebody to cut their throat,″ he said. ``They’re gonna try and escape from that life-threatening situation.″
If a punch was landed, the coroner acknowledged, the person who was hit would be hurt more than the one who threw the punch. Simpson’s body was unbruised when photographed in the days after the killings.
But in the end, Lakshmanan said Goldman probably was overpowered.
``I think Mr. Goldman was mainly ducking, twisting, turning and backing when these injuries took place,″ he said. ``In my opinion, he was rapidly incapacitated. He didn’t have a chance.″
Kim Goldman, the victim’s sister, dabbed at her eyes during the testimony.
In another development, the defense filed a motion declaring ``the specter of a mistrial haunts these proceedings″ and asking Superior Court Judge Lance Ito to stop dismissing jurors until the panel goes into deliberations. Even then, the motion says, the judge should hold a hearing and use a heightened standard for any dismissals.
The papers, an updated version of an earlier motion, are highly critical of Ito and followed the dismissal of 10 jurors. Just two alternates remain for a trial that could still last months.
The defense alleges that prosecutors have targeted certain jurors for dismissal because they appear to be sympathetic to the defense, and that the judge has then dismissed jurors without sufficient
The matter is to be argued at a hearing Friday.