The first police officer on the scene of the murders in the O.J. Simpson case acknowledged Tuesday he didn’t examine a melting cup of ice cream or check the temperature of Nicole Brown Simpson’s bath water - evidence the defense suggested could have helped fix the time of the slayings.
But officer Robert Riske repeatedly told jurors it wasn’t his job to gather evidence. He said he was there to look for victims and “secure the scene” while a police photographer and other experts did their jobs.
And he said that just because he doesn’t know of any pictures having been taken of the ice cream or flickering candles in Nicole Simpson’s bathroom doesn’t mean photos weren’t taken.
Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. undertook an item-by-item dissection of the evidence in a campaign to cast doubt on police work in the case and suggest that investigators overlooked or mishandled evidence.
Cochran and prosecutor Marcia Clark questioned Riske closely about what he reported was a cardboard cup of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream found melting on a banister in Nicole Simpson’s condominium about 12:30 or 12:40 a.m. June 13.
That’s more than two hours after the prosecution alleges the slayings of Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman took place outside her door. O.J. Simpson had left his home for the airport around 11 p.m. June 12 for a trip to Chicago.
The defense is expected to argue that the melting rate of the ice cream suggests the crime took place later in the evening than alleged.
Riske said the ice cream wasn’t photographed immediately and he doesn’t know if it ever was. The officer also said he has no idea whether it might have been yogurt.
Clark suggested that Nicole Simpson might have put the ice cream in the freezer and then taken it out later; Clark also suggested that a pink plastic spoon on the floor beneath the cup had fallen out of the ice cream as it had melted.
Riske also said candles burning in Nicole Simpson’s bathroom weren’t photographed immediately, and he said he never checked the temperature of her bath water. Nicole Simpson apparently had filled the tub for a candlelight bath.
The officer said repeatedly that he was careful not to disturb any evidence because he wanted to preserve the crime scene for the investigators.
Riske also said he did not check trash cans inside the home, did not turn off the television or the music playing on the stereo, did not try to open a Jeep whose passenger door was slightly ajar and did not check Nicole Simpson’s blood-spattered dog for evidence.
Meanwhile, ABC reported Tuesday that two jurors are under investigation for possible misconduct.
One bet a co-worker a week’s pay before he was selected as a juror that Simpson would be acquitted; the other had a map of Chicago in his room, the network said. Jurors are not supposed to do any investigating of a case on their own.
Late Tuesday, Riske’s boss, Sgt. David Rossi, a 25-year member of the police force at the time of the slayings, became the second officer to testify that a single bloody glove was found at the crime scene before detective Mark Fuhrman arrived.
The defense has suggested Fuhrman took one of two bloody gloves from the crime scene and planted it at Simpson’s nearby estate.