April 6, 1995 in Nation/World

Simpson Team Hammers Handling Of Evidence

Associated Press
 

The troubleplagued O.J. Simpson jury lost a sixth member Wednesday, intensifying fears that a complete panel won’t survive the stresses of the trial long enough to deliver a verdict.

“It’s a concern that we have, that we’ll be able to keep a pool all the way through,” said Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a jury consultant for the defense. Just six of 12 alternates remain.

The day’s other major development came in testimony, when a police criminalist acknowledged under searing cross-examination that authorities erred in throwing a white blanket from Nicole Brown Simpson’s home over her bloody body, then discarding it without checking it for hair or fiber evidence.

Attorney Barry Scheck also hammered at Dennis Fung for allowing a rookie criminalist to gather key evidence and for taking the bloody glove found at Simpson’s estate to the murder scene, where its apparent mate was left near the bodies of Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

When asked if it was a “terrible mistake” for a detective to use the blanket and risk contaminating evidence, Fung said it would depend on how clean the blanket was.

“Well, if you had no idea how clean the blanket was, wouldn’t it still be a terrible mistake to bring a blanket from inside the house right into the middle of a crime scene?” Scheck pressed.

“I would prefer that it was not done,” Fung said.

With the newly constituted panel of jurors listening attentively, Scheck offered the theory that hair and fibers from Simpson and his Ford Bronco could have been transferred to the blanket.

He said Simpson’s two young children, who lived with their mother, may have traveled in the Bronco and then sat on the blanket. He also said Simpson had visited his ex-wife’s home and may have shed his own hair on the blanket.

Then, over a stream of prosecution objections, Scheck suggested that trace evidence from the blanket could have been transferred to the glove and knit cap found near the bodies.

The witness said that was “quite a lot” for him to accept, but conceded “it’s possible.”

For more information on this story, call Cityline at 458-8800, category 6202. We will continue updating this story through midnight today.

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