Apparently gearing up for a big finish, prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson trial abruptly stopped presenting emotional evidence of domestic violence and moved to more tedious nuts-and-bolts details.
Legal analysts predicted prosecutors won’t return to the dramatic testimony about Simpson’s alleged abuse and degradation of his slain ex-wife until after more police testimony and appearances by DNA experts, who will talk at length about tests on blood and other evidence.
“The idea is, you hit them with the bad O.J. Simpson at the beginning, and you hit them with the bad O.J. at the end,” said Loyola Law School professor Stan Goldman. “It’s a pretty good trial strategy.”
Other reasons for the shift, analysts say, was prosecutors’ sudden realization they were going overboard with evidence removed from the main issue: the slashing deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
There’s also the judge’s order barring the use of some domestic violence witnesses until later in the prosecution case.
Whatever the reason, the trial’s complexion changed dramatically last week, from the sobbing testimony of Nicole Simpson’s bereaved sister to the just-the-facts-ma’am monotone of a police officer.
Thursday’s testimony by Officer Robert Riske, who spent an entire day on the stand describing what he saw at the murder scene on June 13, likely was a preview of many witnesses to come.
While Riske’s testimony was accompanied by graphic photos of the bloody victims - photos that sent crying relatives fleeing the courtroom - the focus of his questioning was the nuts-and-bolts of police crime scene procedure.
Cross-examination of Riske is scheduled to resume Tuesday, following Monday’s court holiday. More investigators are likely to testify this week.
Today, jurors, the judge, lawyers and a heavily guarded Simpson were to visit the murder scene. They also planned to visit Simpson’s home, Goldman’s apartment and Mezzaluna, the restaurant where Goldman worked as a waiter and where Nicole Simpson dined the night of the slayings.
Only a small pool of reporters, a still photographer and one camera crew were to be allowed to cover the tour, and they were being barred from Simpson’s property.
When the trial resumes, the prosecution will seek to establish that the crimes were properly investigated.
Prosecutors made an unusual move in starting their case with domestic violence evidence. Usually, murder cases begin with the murder, establishing a time and cause of death through forensic evidence.