If Simpson walks, he should thank fans like Mom

September 14, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

I am talking to my mother on the phone. As usual, we are discussing O.J.

She's excited because jury selection is less than two weeks away, meaning life will soon be a little richer for her. Also for Robert Shapiro, Court TV, "Hard Copy" and Kato.

My mother is gavel-to-gavel obsessed with O.J. She's not alone.

Or maybe you missed the story on the O.J. special-edition trading cards, which were signed, dated and numbered by him while in prison. He signed 300 of the cards at $200 a pop. Now, they're selling for thousands.

Many people are obsessed these days. This will be the Forrest Gump of trials. (By the way, in the movie sequel, Gump has to be on the O.J. jury.) The trial will be a stand-in, maybe a six-month stand-in, for the absent World Series.

It's no secret why trials can be so dramatic or why they're covered like sporting events. It's because we never know for sure how they're going to turn out.

Unless you've talked to my mother. Then you do know.

Like many people, she believes O.J. Simpson is innocent. She thinks he's being railroaded and that the prosecutors are incompetent, or worse.

She also thinks LBJ planned the Kennedy assassination, but that's neither here nor there.

She isn't nuts. It isn't like she believes in UFOs or watches only Oliver Stone movies. She has a point of view. And her point of view is that O.J. couldn't have done it because, well, look at him. Does he look like a killer?

That was her view from the start. And she remains unmoved.

I ask her about the early DNA reports, which seem to indicate that the drops of blood leading away from the crime scene came from Simpson.

"You don't think mistakes can be made?" she asks. "How do we know who to trust, anyway? Why aren't they letting the defense have samples of blood so they can do their own tests?"

My mother buys the defense argument completely. Sound like )) anyone you know?

She thinks it's perfectly reasonable that Mark Fuhrman, the cop who once apparently made some racist comments, might have planted the matching glove on the Simpson estate. (For conspiracy buffs, the defense is also running out the "second knifer" theory. Mom loves that particular theory.)

She also thinks, "Why couldn't have Kato done it? He had the same opportunity O.J. had. Maybe he was jealous."

She adds, "It could have been anybody."

It might have been Kato. It might have been anybody. The blood samples could be wrong. O.J. could have been set up. It could be, as some say, a case of trying to bring down another black celebrity.

Or maybe, just maybe, he actually did it. I don't know.

Here's what I think, though. I think he walks. I think O.J. gets off or, at the least, he gets a hung jury. I'm convinced, whether he's innocent or guilty, they're not going to find 12 jurors who will all vote to convict -- unless the evidence is a lot more compelling than what we've heard. And maybe not even then.

This really has become like a sporting event, complete with fans. O.J. has too many fans to lose.

There was a newspaper account, denied by the prosecutors, of a mock trial conducted by the prosecution in Arizona. In this trial, if it happened, O.J. was found not guilty.

The prosecutors say there was no trial and no jury. They prefer to call it a focus group. We decide everything by focus group these days. If the focus group doesn't like the ending of a movie, the movie gets changed. If a focus group doesn't like the candidate's campaign speech, the message gets changed.

It's a mini-poll. In this mini-poll, the folks apparently said the death penalty wouldn't fly. And so, the prosecution is calling for life without parole and hoping that's good enough.

If you've ever been on a jury, or in a focus group, you know how hard it is to find somebody guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In L.A., they can't convict people who commit the crime on videotape. They couldn't convict the Menendez brothers even though they admitted they did it.

In the Simpson case, the lawyers are going to attack every piece of evidence, every witness, every blood sample. By the time they're done, you won't even be sure there were any murders, much less that O.J. might have been responsible. You've seen those guys. They're the best.

Just ask my mother.

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