In a victory for O.J. Simpson, his murder trial judge cleared the way Tuesday for a wide-ranging defense attack on DNA testing at the police crime lab.
Prosecutors, who have presented DNA evidence linking Simpson to the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, objected to the new phase of defense testimony, saying it could mislead jurors and would unnecessarily prolong the trial.
“This is the heart of our defense,” attorney Barry Scheck argued. “The key defense contention regarding DNA is that because of substandard practices in this county, key evidence was cross-contaminated.”
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito said he is concerned about time consumption as well as the wideranging testimony proposed by the defense. But he said he would allow it out of fairness because the prosecution was given great latitude in presenting its DNA evidence.
Before the DNA hearing, an expert on blood spatter testified about another defense theory - that police planted evidence to frame Simpson in the murders.
Herbert MacDonell told jurors that a murderer’s foot could not have been inside a sock when it was stained with Nicole Simpson’s blood. The blood, the defense contends, was taken from a vial of her blood and smeared on the sock.
The socks, one of which had Simpson’s blood on it, were found at the foot of his bed the morning after the June 12, 1994, slayings.
“Based on your observations, is it your opinion that staining of that sock could have happened at the crime scene?” defense attorney Peter Neufeld asked the defense witness.
“No,” MacDonell replied.
“Why not?” Neufeld asked.
“The staining that transferred from Surface 2 to Surface 3 could not occur if a foot was in the sock,” the witness said.
MacDonell, in his third day on the stand, had just shown jurors with the sleeve of his coat that a sock has four distinct surfaces - outside and inside each side of the ankle. MacDonell said he found blood had seeped from Surface 2, the inside of one side of the ankle, to Surface 3, the inside of the opposite side of the ankle. He suggested this could happen only if the sock were lying flat and the inside surfaces were touching.
Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark offered a different explanation in her cross-examination, suggesting the socks were wet with perspiration and blood before they were taken off and left flat, allowing blood to seep through.
MacDonell said that was possible.