1 attacker 'improbable,' Simpson lawyers argue

September 03, 1994|By New York Times News Service

LOS ANGELES -- Offering an early outline of their defense, lawyers for O. J. Simpson argue in newly released court papers that it is unlikely that one person acting alone could have killed his former wife and her friend.

"The 'single-assailant' theory is highly improbable in terms of the nature of the wounds inflicted and the positions of the victims' bodies," the lawyers argued in a motion released late Thursday. The motion asks for dismissal of the murder charges against Mr. Simpson.

The papers filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday drew together the various elements of the defense's case that have been made known only in piecemeal fashion in recent weeks.

The motion is scheduled to be heard at the next hearing, set for Sept. 19. Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Sept. 26.

While a motion to dismiss charges is standard procedure at this stage, Blair Bernholtz, a defense lawyer who has been observing the case, said:

"It's a brilliant way to present to the public a narrative of the defense theory of this case in a tantalizing fashion. It suggests that there will be evidence that there had to have been more than one perpetrator. It suggests that the defense will have an explanation for the time sequence."

The motion, which had been kept confidential under instructions by Judge Lance Ito of Superior Court, described testimony by a medical examiner about multiple stab wounds and the possibility that two knives could have been used in the killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald L. Goldman.

Both victims suffered cuts that would indicate that they had put up a fight.

"It is highly improbable that all of these wounds could have been inflicted by a single assailant on two different victims without an outcry or attempt to escape," the motion said.

It also argued that the precise time of the deaths had not been established, that only scanty and doubtful evidence had placed Mr. Simpson at the scene of the crime, and that there was "not one shred of evidence" to support the legal requirement for a first-degree murder charge -- that Mr. Simpson acted "with malice aforethought."

Without this element, the motion said, Mr. Simpson could be convicted only of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The motion also said that no evidence had been presented to link Mr. Simpson with the bloody glove that was found in a narrow passageway on his property. That glove, which apparently matches a glove found at the scene of the killings, is one of the central pieces of evidence.

The motion said a drop of blood found at the crime scene does not necessarily tie Mr. Simpson to the killings, as the prosecutors contend.

DNA tests, on which much of the prosecution's case may rest, have not been completed.

Prosecutors yesterday requested that jurors in the Simpson trial should be sequestered for the length of the case.

"If ever there was a jury in the history of the world that needed protection from publicity, this jury is the one," Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark wrote in a legal motion filed with Judge Ito.

Also yesterday, the Associated Press quoted an anonymous source saying the mystery envelope in the Simpson case contains an unused knife Mr. Simpson bought several weeks before the slayings.

A judge on Thursday ordered that two reports on the envelope -- but not its contents -- be turned over to the prosecution.

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