Detective grilled about bloody glove at estate, past testimony

March 15, 1995|By New York Times News Service

LOS ANGELES -- F. Lee Bailey, the legal legend reborn in the O. J. Simpson case, again hammered away yesterday at Mark Fuhrman, the police detective the defense deems the Achilles' heel of the prosecution. But despite suggestions that he was a bigot and a liar, Detective Fuhrman again held his own, returning Mr. Bailey's slams with gentle, soft-spoken lobs.

Once more, Mr. Bailey steered clear of stating explicitly that Detective Fuhrman planted the glove that he has said he found behind Mr. Simpson's house. The defense lawyer relied instead on suggestion, painting Detective Fuhrman as suspiciously over-eager, and said that his discovery of the glove when he was by himself made him suspiciously indispensable to the case.

The only direct reference to the planting allegation came from Detective Fuhrman himself, after Mr. Bailey asked him whether he had any financial stake in the case. Detective Fuhrman testified that he had retained counsel to sue two of Mr. Simpson's lawyers, Robert L. Shapiro and Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.

Why, Mr. Bailey asked him, had he hired a lawyer?

"Because I was defamed in the media for having planted evidence in a capital crime," the detective replied.

Looking conspicuously at the courtroom clock as if to mark how long a time it is, Mr. Bailey made Detective Fuhrman account for the 15 minutes that he has said he spent behind Mr. Simpson's estate on June 13.

It was then, he has testified, that he found a right-hand leather glove. That was several hours after the bodies of Mr. Simpson's former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald L. Goldman, with a bloody left glove near them, were found two miles away, outside her condominium.

The defense lawyer also asked Detective Fuhrman -- as did the chief prosecutor, Marcia Clark, last week -- whether he had made racist statements in 1985 to a real estate agent named Kathleen Bell. Once more, the incendiary phrases that Detective Fuhrman purportedly used were projected for the predominantly black jury to see. Once again, they remained largely impassive as phrase by phrase, Mr. Bailey repeated the statement.

Had Detective Fuhrman talked of pulling over black men driving with white women? Of finding a pretext if there was not a cause? Of wanting nothing more than to see all blacks gathered together and burned? Had he told another woman that interracial marriage was a "crime against nature"? To each, Detective Fuhrman calmly replied that he had not, though he said he would have remembered if he had.

Since the defense has no evidence that Detective Fuhrman moved anything, it is resorting instead to innuendo. Repeatedly, Mr. Bailey focused on why, if dangerous suspects were "out there in the Simpson shadows," Detective Fuhrman ventured forth alone. He hinted that Detective Fuhrman had deliberately asked a superior, Philip Vannatter, to question Mr. Simpson's houseguest, Brian "Kato" Kaelin, so Detective Fuhrman could go outside alone.

"That would take care of two of them, wouldn't it?" Mr. Bailey asked.

Detective Fuhrman appeared to have no idea what Mr. Bailey was talking about. "Two of who?" he asked.

In another series of questions, Mr. Bailey simultaneously challenged Detective Fuhrman's honesty and competence, calling attention as he has several times in the past few days to the penlight Detective Fuhrman used to survey the scene.

"Had you thought about asking one of those fellows to go with you, maybe someone who had a grown-up flashlight?" Mr. Bailey asked at another point. Detective Fuhrman said he had not.

"Was it not your purpose to be in the area along the south wall alone?"

"No, it wasn't."

"It just worked out that way, is that it?"

"I didn't even know the south wall was accessible," Detective Fuhrman said.

"No, it just worked out that you left the house and made your investigation for 15 minutes or more alone?"

"That's how it worked out."

Mr. Bailey highlighted what he said were inconsistencies between Detective Fuhrman's recent testimony and his declarations at a preliminary hearing last July.

Last July, Detective Fuhrman stated that he had seen blood in Mr. Simpson's Bronco, not merely on the outside, as he had testified yesterday. On Monday, Mr. Bailey seized on that statement to suggest that Detective Fuhrman had smeared blood in the interior of the vehicle. Yesterday, Detective Fuhrman said that he had merely misspoken and that he had never opened up the car.

Asked last July about the glove he had seen at the crime scene, Detective Fuhrman referred to what he had seen as "them." The defense has jumped on that statement, suggesting that it proves there was indeed a second glove for Detective Fuhrman to pick up, squirrel away, and drop on Mr. Simpson's property. By "them," Detective Fuhrman testified yesterday, he was referring not just to the single glove but also to the knit ski cap found nearby.

Mr. Bailey also asked Detective Fuhrman how the glove he said he found could possibly have been sticky, since the blood on it would surely have dried.

HIGHLIGHTS

* Defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey continued his cross-examination of Detective Mark Fuhrman, suggesting that the policeman planted evidence to frame O. J. Simpson. He grilled Detective Fuhrman on how the bloody glove could still be "moist and sticky" with blood more than seven hours after the murders.

* The judge cracked down again on the defense for failing to promptly turn over information to the prosecution. This time, the judge's ruling pertained to notes and interview transcripts of the defense's expert witnesses. The judge set today as a compliance deadline.

What's next: Cross-examination of Detective Fuhrman resumes today.

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