The Defense Witnesses in the Civil Trial

Source: MSNBC

The following people have testified on behalf of the defense:

MONDAY, Dec. 9

Detective Philip Vannatter, LAPD

During Vannatter's testimony, the audio tape of Simpson's interview with police the day after the murders was played publicly for the first time. Vannatter was heard telling Simpson, "O.J., we've got sort of a problem. We've got some blood on and in your car, we've got some blood at your house and it's sort of a problem." Simpson replied, "Well, take my blood test."

Vannatter also emphatically denied defense attorney Baker's allegation that he lied to the magistrate in order to get a search warrant. Vannatter said that he noted on the request for the search warrant that Simpson was on an "unexpected" trip because that was the impression he got from Simpson's daughter Arnelle. At one point, the defense's strategy took a turn for the worse. Baker asked why Vannatter publicly denounced his client. "I believe your client is guilty of murder," Vannatter responded.

TUESDAY, Dec. 10

Detective Thomas Lange, LAPD

Defense attorney Robert Baker focused on how Lange supervised the crime scenes. Baker implied that Lange was more concerned about going to Simpson's Rockingham estate to build a "rapport" with him than he was about the preservation, collection and documentation of the evidence at the Bundy murder scene. Baker repeatedly reminded Lange that as an "officer of 20 years," Lange should have known better than to leave the crime scene. Lange testified that while the evidence at Bundy had not been processed, he was under the impression that a criminalist had been called before he left the crime scene.

Gregory Matheson, LAPD criminalist

Questioning focused on blood test results. The defense was trying to suggest that the fingernail scrapings from Nicole Simpson, which resulted in a type other than hers, could have been from an unknown contributor. The defense also criticized Matheson's claim that he had made an estimate of the amount of Simpson's blood in a vial. When he tested the amount he realized he had underestimated the amount by almost 2 milliliters.

Thano Peratis, jail nurse

Peratis, a Los Angeles City Jail nurse, testified that he drew Simpson's blood and transferred the blood from the syringe to the vial and gave it to the detectives. He said he did not seal the envelope. In grand jury testimony, he had said he had drawn 7.9 to 8.1 cc of blood. He said he is now unsure of the quantity that was drawn because the calibration marks on the syringe were facing down as he drew the blood.

In cross-examination, Peratis said when he learned that blood was possibly missing from Simpson's vial, he conducted an experiment to recreate pulling blood to determine how much he drew. He conceded that he didn't record the amount of blood that he drew from Simpson.

Andrea Mazzola, LAPD criminalist

Mazzola joined the Los Angeles Police Crime Lab/Toxicology Department in January 1994. Direct examination focused on the collection of evidence at the crime scene. The defense accused Mazzola of carelessness in handling the evidence. Mazzola testified she took swatches from blood stains at Simpson's Rockingham estate and placed them in envelopes and put them in the crime lab truck. She confirmed the defense's assertion that the samples were not placed in the truck's refrigerator, implying the heat in the truck could affect the evidence.

In cross-examination, Mazzola testified she was supervised while collecting evidence, and she changed gloves more times than she could count.

Detective Philip Vannatter, LAPD

Vannatter was in charge of investigating the murders along with his partner, Detective Tom Lange. Under cross-examination by plaintiffs' attorney John Kelly, Vannatter testified the reason for calling the criminalist to the Rockingham scene was so he could be there when the presumptive test for blood on the smear on the Bronco door was conducted. The phenothaline test was positive for human blood. Based on that result, he made the notation on the warrant affidavit that human blood was found on the door. That countered the defense claim yesterday that Vannatter lied on the request to get a warrant to search Simpson's estate.

Under redirect, Baker returned to the blood vial, which Vannatter transported in an unsealed envelope. He intimated that there was no reason not to seal the envelope unless he wanted to take blood from it. He stressed the nearly three-hour time span in which the blood was in Vannatterust ab's possession. Baker kept injecting into his questions the fact that Vannatter had 23 years of experience, yet he did not follow the rules.


Howard Bingham, photographer

Bingham, a photographer who knew Simpson from previous media events, was on the flight from Los Angeles to Chicago and spoke to Simpson. Bingham testified that he did not notice any cuts or bandages on Simpson's hands.

Wayne Stanfield, pilot

Stanfield, the pilot of the American Airlines flight to Chicago, said he got Simpson's autograph and described Simpson's demeanor as "warm, congenial, calm, cool, collected."

Willie Ford, LAPD videographer

Ford is an LAPD videographer whose shots of O.J. Simpson's bedroom do not show socks with blood drops on them. After taking video of the kitchen, office area, living room, family room, bar and game room, Ford said he went upstairs. Ford said he never took video of the floor, but he answered "no" to repetitive questions about whether he ever saw socks or blood.

In cross-examination, plaintiff's attorney Petrocelli implied that Ford did not see the socks because criminalist Dennis Fung had already been in the room to collect them as evidence.

Steven Valerie, passenger

Valerie, who was also on the same plane as Simpson from Los Angeles to Chicago, testified Simpson's mood was "jovial" and said he did not notice any cuts on his fingers. Valerie also described what Simpson was wearing and what he did during the flight.

On cross-examination, Valerie admitted that he didn't see Simpson speak to the pilot, read a book or sleep. Simpson testified he did all these things during the flight.

Susan Brockbank, criminalist

Brockbank is a criminalist in the trace analysis laboratory. Defense attorneys questioned her about the collection and analysis of hair and trace evidence, including Simpson's hair and fibers found at the Bundy crime scene, the socks from his residence, the gloves and the carpet of the Ford Bronco. The defense's underlying implication was that the evidence collection and analysis were sloppy. Defense attorneys also argued that further contamination occurred when the evidence was transported in the same container.

Detective Thomas Lange, LAPD

Lange was in charge of investigating the murders along with his partner, Detective Philip Vannatter. Defense questions focused on the whereabouts of Fuhrman, who in the criminal trial was accused of planting evidence to frame Simpson. Lange consistently answered that his attention was focused not on Fuhrman, but on the victims.

During cross-examination, Lange made it clear that he never had another suspect in the case. "There's just absolutely no evidence of a second suspect," he said.


John Gerdes, M.D.

Gerdes is a DNA expert and the clinical director of Immunological Associates of Denver (IAD), a reference lab supporting organ transplantation. Gerdes watched the video of the crime scene with the jury and pointed out many problems with evidence collection, including Andrea Mazzola's failure to change her gloves after collecting evidence. A large portion of his testimony addressed the LAPD's testing methods, saying they shifted the results from a scientific basis to a subjective basis.

In cross-examination, plaintiffs' attorneys asked Gerdes a serious of questions pertaining to his experience with evidence-testing which ended with, "So, you've never done forensic evidence testing?" "Correct," Gerdes responded. At one point, Gerdes testified that item samples collected from the Rockingham estate were consistent with Simpson's type, however, he made it a point to say that he didn't say that it was Simpson's blood exactly.

Lt. Frank Spangler, LAPD

Spangler was the commander of the West Los Angeles detectives at the crime sites. Spangler testified that Detective Mark Fuhrman was out of his sight for almost a half hour. He also said Fuhrman wore a jacket when he first saw him, yet later he didn't see Fuhrman wearing the jacket. In cross-examination, Spangler said he observed bloody footprints on the north pathway and blood on the gate.

Detective Kelly Mulldorfer, LAPD

Mulldorfer was with the police commission investigation enforcement unit in July 1994. She was assigned to investigate a theft of papers that allegedly occurred in the impounded Bronco. Defense attorney asked, "Looking at the console, did you see blood there?" Mulldorfer responded, "I don't remember if I did or if I didn't," and followed that response with, "I wasn't looking for that evidence, I was looking for receipts."

MONDAY, Dec. 16

Michael Baden, M.D.

Baden testified on the injuries sustained by O.J. Simpson. Referring to the wounds on the ex-football star's hand, Baden said "my opinion then and my opinion now was that it was not caused by finger nails." Baden described the cut on Simpson's hand as deep and irregular cut by a sharp irregular object, like a jagged knife or a piece of glass. He went on to say, "I haven't seen a fingernail mark produce a deep gouge." Baden also described the injuries of Brown and Goldman, saying that he can't determine how long it took for the attacker to inflict them. He testified that the victims bled to death and that Goldman might have been standing for five minutes after his jugular was severed.

Herbert MacDonell, crime-scene analyst

MacDonell is a senior crime-scene analyst who interprets blood-stain patterns. Under direct examination, he testified that he examined the blood stains on the socks recovered from Simpson's Rockingham bedroom. He said that there were visible stains on the socks. He also said that he conducted an experiment using similar material and he determined the blood did not drip or splash on the socks, it was transferred either by touching or by a lateral motion (swiping). MacDonell testified that the blood would have dried within five or 10 minutes, implying the blood wouldns coll't have soaked through after the socks were taken off.

MacDonell said he performed an experiment to attempt to determine if the gloves would shrink if exposed to human blood. He concluded: "I could not detect any measurable shrinkage on either glove ... and that's the bottom line." MacDonell was the first of several defense science experts being called to throw scientific weight behind the police frame-up theory and to sketch an alternate scenario for the killings.

TUESDAY, Dec. 17

Gilbert Aguilar

Aguilar has been an LAPD forensic fingerprint specialist for 17 years. In testimony, Gilbert backed up his colleagues' claim that none of the 17 prints lifted from the crime scene were O.J. Simpson's. Aguilar testified that there were prints that were identifiable but had not been identified.

In cross-examination, Aguilar was questioned as to whether a print would appear if someone was wearing a glove. He said that unless the glove had a hole in it, revealing the fingers, it would be difficult to leave a print.

Thomas Talarino

Talarino allegedly saw a man who he says was not Simpson in the bushes on Bundy while he was roller-skating on the night of the murders.

Michael Gladden

Gladden is a professional courier who asked for Simpson's autograph outside the airport on the night of the murders. He said he observed Simpson and that there was really nothing out of the ordinary. Gladden then asked Simpson for his autograph and was told to wait until he got his luggage situated. Gladden also described Simpson as wearing a long sleeve denim shirt and blue denim pants and leather-looking boots.

William Blasini

Blasini is a car parts buyer who saw Simpson's impounded Bronco. He said that he opened the unlocked passenger door, leaned in and looked around. He said the reason that he looked in was because he was curious - "it was a big story." He testified that he looked at the seats, the console, the floor, dashboard - all over the vehicle and yet saw no blood. Blasini said that he looked for blood and fingerprint dust since he knew the car was being investigated.

Michael Baden, M.D.

Baden, a forensic pathologist who also testified on the ex-football star's behalf in his criminal trial, backed down on his previous insistence that Goldman struggled with his killer for five to 10 minutes before finally succumbing to his wounds. The length of the struggle is important because lawyers for the plaintiffs contend the murders were committed outside Nicole Simpson's condominium at about 10:35 to 10:40 p.m. O.J. Simpson was spotted in his driveway by a limousine driver at about 10:55 p.m.

He also revealed, under cross-examination, that the fatal wounds suffered by Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman were consistent with one knife being used in both slayings.


Robert Groden

Groden was called by the defense as an expert witness to testify about a photograph which appears to show Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes at a Buffalo Bills football game. After Groden took the stand, Judge Fujisaki requested that the jury be excused to hold a hearing to determine the qualifications of Groden as an expert witness. In his testimony, Groden said that the frame of film in question, of Simpson, is slightly longer and somewhat offset compared to others on the roll. He said the Simpson shot is reddish, while the others are bluer. And he said from Simpson's knees down, the picture has a different tonal quality than the upper part. Groden said most pictures on the roll are overexposed - but not the Simpson frame.

Daniel Gonzalez

Gonzalez was the junior officer sent to Nicole Simpson's condominium after the murders. He also moved on to the Rockingham estate around 5:20 a.m. He testified that he saw blood inside Simpson's Ford Bronco after it was pointed out to him by Detective Mark Fuhrman - targeted by the defense as a lying racist who framed Simpson. Defense attorney Robert Baker showed pictures of the Bronco on a TV screen and questioned whether Gonzalez could have seen a blood smear on the running board when the door to the vehicle was locked. Gonzalez heatedly insisted he could.

Gonzalez was combative during most of the questioning by Baker as the attorney compared two reports, one handwritten by Gonzalez and one typed by Detective Ronald Phillips, who interviewed the younger officer about what he saw that night. There were obvious discrepancies in the two reports.

FRIDAY, Dec. 20

Fredric Rieders

Rieders is a forensic toxicologist who was called by the defense to bolster its case that blood was planted and evidence was contaminated. He testified he found the preservative EDTA, which prevents blood from coagulating, in blood on socks police recovered from Simpson's bedroom and on a stain on the back gate of his ex-wife's condominium. Rieders said there were only two possible sources for the EDTA - from a blood sample tube or through contamination of the blood stains in the laboratory.

Robert Groden

Groden was called as an expert witness by the defense. He testified on direct examination that a photograph which appeared to show O.J. Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes at a Buffalo Bills football game had been doctored. Groden was confronted by plaintiffs' lawyers on cross-examination causing heated exchanges between attorneys and frequent interventions by the judge. Groden's expertise was challenged, as were his professional assessments of the photos in question.

Groden acknowledged that a blue line on the picture could simply be scratches from the camera's film guide. Similar lines appear alongside other photos on the same roll, but Groden had said the Simpson frame was the only one that showed the mark. He testified the Simpson frame is longer than others - by about one one-hundredth of an inch. The plaintiffs contend the measuring tool Groden used can't detect differences that small.

MONDAY, Jan. 6

Paul Tippin

Tippin, a Los Angeles Police Department officer at the crime scene, was questioned in direct examination mostly about his interview with Kato Kaelin. On cross- examination, Tippin said he had no idea how close Kaelin was to Nicole Brown Simpson. In re-direct, it was established that Kaelin's statement included information about where he had met Nicole Simpson and that he had never had sex with her.

Rachel Ferrara (via criminal testimony)

Ferrara was Kaelin's girlfriend at the time of the murders. Kaelin called Ferrara June 12 around 10:40 p.m. or 10:45 p.m. During their phone conversation, Kaelin heard three thumps on the wall and told Ferrara he thought he just felt an earthquake.

Otis Marlow

Marlow is a private investigator for Gailey and Associates. He said that during the investigation into the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, he was assigned to work on the clues that were coming in, such as phone calls and searching gutters from the Bundy to Rockingham residences. Defense attorney Philip Baker asked him if, while helping the criminalist, he was wearing gloves or booties. Marlow responded, "No."

Richard Aston

Aston, an LAPD officer who was at both crime scenes, testified that he arrived at the Rockingham estate at 5 a.m., after the four other officers at the scene. He testified that he heard some conversation among the officers concerning what might be going on inside. He also testified that they all went in a "loose group" to the Bronco where he saw two drops of blood on the console. "I was naturally curious and there was something to be seen, I assumed," he said. He stayed at the Rockingham estate until about 8 a.m., when he took Kaelin to an LAPD office. In cross-examination, Aston testified that "nobody entered the vehicle" and "nobody touched the vehicle."

Rolf Rokahr (via deposition)

Rokahr was an LAPD crime-scene photographer assigned to record the Bundy crime scene. His deposition included his recollection of Detective Mark Fuhrman approaching him at Nicole Simpson's Bundy condo saying, "Let me show you what we have back here." The now infamous picture of Fuhrman pointing at the glove was taken by Rokahr. He said he asked Fuhrman to point at the items.

Robert Groden

Groden was called by the defense as an expert witness, although his credentials were challenged by the plaintiffs. Before the holiday break, he testified that a photograph which appeared to show O.J. Simpson wearing a pair of Bruno Magli shoes at a Buffalo Bills football game had been altered. On Monday, he spent his first 20 minutes on the stand reviewing the testimony he gave before the holiday break. On cross examination, Groden testified that ommand"there is a greater than 90 percent possibility that either the pants and the shoes, or the pants alone were changed," in the allegedly doctored photo.

Plaintiffs' attorney Peter Gelblum then introduced new photos taken by another photographer of Simpson apparently wearing Bruno Magli shoes at the same football game. One by one, Gelblum asked Groden if any of these photos changed his opinion. Groden said that they did not change his opinion at all.


Mark Partridge

Partridge, a Chicago attorney, said he sat next to O.J. Simpson on the flight to Los Angeles. He described him as distraught, sitting back in his seat and sighing, at one point covering his face with his hands. Partridge said a stewardess remarked to Simpson: "Bad day, huh?" to which he replied, "you don't know the half of it." Partridge said Simpson had a fresh cut on his finger, made several phone calls, visited the restroom several times and told Partridge that a "friend" had been killed, later explaining it was his ex-wife. He said Simpson also noted, "Some people were blaming him."

Jim Merrill

Merrill, a former Hertz executive, testified Simpson was cordial and relaxed and signed autographs when he arrived in Chicago the morning of June 13, 1994. Hours later, Merrill said, Simpson was distraught, calling for a ride back to the airport. "He sounded like he was very frantic. He, at one point, began to cry."

Raymond Kilduff

ilduff, another Hertz executive, testified he drove Simpson to the airport for his return flight and Simpson was "very upset."

Dennis Fung

Fung is a criminalist for the Los Angeles Police Department. He said the bodies of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson were in the process of being moved when he arrived at the crime scene. O.J. Simpson's lawyer injected new mystery into the case by suggesting that one of the infamous leather gloves in evidence may not be the one collected by police at the killing scene.

"I'm not sure this is the same glove," criminalist Dennis Fung said, holding the left-handed glove and turning it over and over. Fung wrinkled his brow and said he couldn't figure out why the glove in his hand did not have a hole like the glove in a picture taken by police when it was found on June 12, 1994, near the bodies of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Steve Merrin

Merrin is an LAPD sergeant who was on command-watch the night of June 12, 1994. Merrin testified that he received a call from a female, who said she worked for Channel 4, and asked if he knew about a double homicide in west Los Angeles. Merrin said she asked him specifically if police were "sitting" on two bodies on the West Side. He said that to his knowledge there were no other double homicides on the West Side. In cross examination, Merrin testified that he followed up on the call as well even though his command has nothing to do with Brentwood.

Brian "Kato" Kaelin

Kaelin was asked repeatedly if he was certain Simpson was wearing a dark suit on the night of June 12, 1994. "I always thought he was wearing a dark suit," Kaelin said, "A sweatsuit." The dark sweatsuit, he added, had a light-colored zipper that could have been white. Kaelin was asked about the approximate time he heard thumps on the wall of his guestroom while he was on the phone with a friend, Rachel Ferrara. Asked if he remembered discussing the time with Ferrara around 10:30 p.m. and then hearing the thumps about 10 minutes later, he replied "I don't remember."
There was no cross-examination.


Dr. Henry Lee (taped deposition)

Dr. Lee is the director of the Connecticut State Forensics Science Laboratory. He testified he found a new trail of seven blood drops leading away from the scene of the killing scene. The trail wasn't visible in poor quality pictures given to him for review in criminal trial. Lee make the same assertion as in the criminal trial saying, "something's wrong" with the physical evidence taken from the trail and from Nicole Brown Simpson.

He testified that the blood patterns at the crime scene indicated a "not very short struggle." Lee declined to give an opinion on the killing time line. Later in his video testimony, Lee complained bitterly about his treatment by the LAPD and said they gave him a microscope that was a "piece of junk," and they limited his examination to 20 minutes.

FRIDAY, Jan. 10

O.J. Simpson

In his much anticipated testimony, Simpson said he never struck Nicole Brown Simpson despite testimony of two witnesses. He testified if he had hit Nicole Simpson, she would have been injured much more seriously than she was. He also talked about his childhood in the San Francisco projects, his school years as a successful athlete, his Heisman Trophy in college and his professional career with the Buffalo Bills. He said he tried to be conscientious and obey all the rules of good sportsmanship and fair play and he was kicked out of only one pro-football game for fighting.

He went on to tell the jury he had a good relationship with Nicole Simpson and they were very much in love - the two separated because "she had lived with me since she was 18 and she needed some free time." As for her behavior, she became very erratic after their separation and she was part of crowd he didn't like. He then said she pursued him relentlessly but a reconciliation led to recurring problems.

Dr. Henry Lee (taped deposition)

Dr. Lee said he never meant to suggest that police planted evidence to frame O.J. Simpson; said when he said "there's something wrong," he meant the quality of police lab procedures.

Gary Siglar (taped deposition)

Siglar is a supervising criminalist at the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. He said criminalists from coroner's office should also have been called to crime scene and said lead Detective Philip Vannatter personally picked up reference vials of blood taken from victims. He also said it was unusual but not unprecedented for a detective to do that.

MONDAY, Jan. 13

O.J. Simpson

Simpson reiterated that he did not kill his ex-wife and leave her body where his children could find it. He continued to insist he never owned a pair of Bruno Magli shoes, despite the introduction of 30 photos that show him wearing Bruno Magli shoes. In regard to a letter Nicole Simpson wrote but never sent, the defendant said his ex-wife's accusation of his beating her was a pre-divorce ploy to get him to tear up a prenuptial agreement. Another marital topic was Simpson's fidelity. He said he was unfaithful from time to time and had an affair with actress Tawny Kitaen while he was married. He didn't consider cheating on his wife to be lying, but he acknowledged it was "morally wrong." Simpson said he told Nicole of his affairs when they split. There were, he said, no bad feelings about his infidelity. Simpson testified that his greatest concern was for his children. When he was notified by police that his ex-wife had been killed, he asked if his kids were exposed to anything. Simpson said he contemplated suicide on June 17, 1994, and felt ashamed. He said his friend Al "A.C." Cowlings and memories of his mother saved him.

TUESDAY, Jan. 14

Arnelle Simpson

Arnelle is O.J. Simpson's daughter from his first marriage. She testified she was shocked, stunned, upset, confused and scared at news of her stepmother's death. Her father repeatedly asked her what was going on during telephone conversations from Chicago. She contradicted detectives stories about how they got into Simpson's house and what they told her before they talked to her father.

Donald Thompson

Thompson is the Los Angeles officer who handcuffed O.J. Simpson at Simpson's Rockingham estate after he returned from Chicago on June 13, 1994. Thompson testified he arrived at the Rockingham estate at 8 a.m. and left around 3:45 p.m. Thompson said that his assignment was to protect the Bronco and the property in general. He testified the vehicle was never opened while he was there and he saw no one enter the vehicle. Defense attorney Robert Baker told Thompson that if he were watching the property in general, he couldn't have had his eyes on the Bronco at all times.