He was the detective who, all by himself, found the bloody glove and then led the other officers to it. He described at the preliminary hearing how, when seeing the glove, his heart started to "pound" and the adrenalin started to rush through his body.
It was a dream moment for any detective: the moment when, single-handedly, you crack the case.
But who, the defense began to ask, really was Mark Fuhrman?
As it turned out, he grew up in Washington state and at 18 volunteered for the Marines. He went to Vietnam and liked it until about the last six months when he got tired of "having a bunch of Mexicans and niggers that should be in prison, telling [him] they weren't going to do something," Fuhrman told a police psychiatrist eight years later, according to police documents. (Fuhrman now denies this.)
Praise and complaints
Upon leaving the Marines, he entered the Los Angeles Police Department and earned two records: official praise for his police work and public complaints about his conduct.
Which, for the defense, was a godsend. It not only got a jury that was two-thirds black, but a key witness with many allegations of racism against him!
"I cannot imagine a clearer case of the defense having an absolute and inalienable, indelible and irrevocable right to smash into any person so lowlife as to make these utterances and then proceed to the witness stand and attempt to incriminate for murder a member of the African-American race," F. Lee Bailey said.
Not that the defense is home free. There are many problems with its theory that Fuhrman planted the glove. (One major one: How come officers who arrived at the crime scene before Fuhrman saw only one and not two gloves?)
But the defense will take what it can get. And the cross-examination of Fuhrman promises to be vigorous.
So vigorous that the security procedures set up for Fuhrman are already unlike that for any witness so far: He was accompanied in and out of court yesterday by an entourage of six law enforcement officers and allowed to use the special, private entrance and exit usually reserved exclusively for the jury.
But Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti said, in the end, he does not really care whether the public thinks Fuhrman is a racist or not.
Although you wouldn't know it from the many press conferences held nearly every day that the public will not get a vote at the end of this trial.
"Our concern," Garcetti said, "is that he comes across as a believable, candid, respected investigator by the jury."
Columnist Roger Simon will report from time to time on the O. J. Simpson trial.