April 19, 1995 in Nation/World

Simpson Team Gives Fung Warm Send-Off

New York Times
 
Tags:trial

A smiling Dennis Fung finally completed his testimony Tuesday, nine court days after he took the stand as the police department’s principal evidence collector in the O.J. Simpson case.

The bizarre spectacle that followed suggested an equivocal result of his lengthy appearance. It hinted too, at the peculiar bonds that can sometimes develop between combatants.

During two additional rounds of cross-examination Tuesday, lawyers for the defense reiterated that Fung was not the soft-spoken technician he seemed, but a savvy co-conspirator who tailored testimony to please prosecutors and cover up for corrupt policemen. Fung in turn reiterated that his memory was imperfect but that he had done his work conscientiously and that his conscience was clear.

In midafternoon, as Judge Lance Ito ran out of patience, the defense ran out of venom and the prosecution out of antidotes. Fung, his relief evident, then stood up.

When he walked by Deputy District Attorney Christopher A. Darden, the two shook hands gingerly.

With memory lapses and reversals in his testimony, Fung had created serious problems for the prosecution team.

But as Fung prepared to leave the courtroom, his chief defense interrogator, Barry Scheck, twice thanked him. Then Simpson’s chief trial lawyer, Johnnie L. Cochran, extended his hand.

Then another defense lawyer, Robert Shapiro, embraced Fung. Shapiro had apologized the day before for handing out fortune cookies which, he said, came from restaurant called “Hang Fung.”

Then, most remarkably, Simpson and Fung exchanged vigorous handshakes, each of them smiling broadly. It was unclear whether he and his lawyers were feeling grateful for Fung’s fumbles, guilty for what they had done to the man’s reputation, contrite over the ethnic jokes or simply affectionate toward someone they had grown to like over their two intensive weeks together.

Once Fung left, Ito began ques tioning the first group of the 18 remaining jurors and alternates on a number of subjects, including whether they had been deliberating about the case prematurely.Ito rejected a defense request to let Simpson attend the interrogations.


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