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Defense Zeroes In On Blood Sample

A small vial of O.J. Simpson’s blood took center stage again at his murder trial Wednesday as a lawyer tried to hammer home for jurors the key defense theory that police used it to frame Simpson for murder.

Attorney Peter Neufeld, chided by the judge for everything from needless repetition to his Brooklyn accent, was undeterred as he attacked the credibility of police criminalist Andrea Mazzola, a calm witness with a deadpan expression.

Mazzola, who collected almost all blood evidence in the case, denied being part of conspiracy. She acknowledged, however, that she never saw the vial of blood at Simpson’s home the day after Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed June 12, 1994.

In fact, she said, she didn’t know she had handled it. But at some point, she said, “I had found out I had carried it.”

She was referring to TV footage that shows her toting a plastic trash bag from Simpson’s house. Her supervisor, Dennis Fung, testified that the bag contained the blood vial.

Repeating her testimony from last week, Mazzola said she didn’t log the blood into evidence until the following day, June 14.

“Later, the blood vial was brought to my attention,” Mazzola said.

“Was there a concern in the laboratory about allegations that there had been tampering with Mr. Simpson’s blood?” Neufeld asked.

“I do not remember if there was a concern over tampering with the sample,” Mazzola replied.

Mazzola said Fung told her to log the blood as evidence and instructed her to change the evidence number originally assigned to it because it was out of sequence.

The defense has implied these events are actually sinister acts that prove a conspiracy against Simpson. Both Fung and Detective Philip Vannatter have testified that Vannatter delivered the vial to Fung on June 13. Simpson willingly provided a sample of his blood at police headquarters, and Vannatter said he drove it across town to Simpson’s estate, where Fung and Mazzola were collecting evidence.

The defense contends the blood wasn’t handed over to Fung that day and the delay gave police an opportunity to plant it.