O.J. Simpson’s lawyers dropped their effort Wednesday to keep DNA evidence from the jury, putting the murder trial on the fast track by conceding that genetic testing is scientifically valid.
The lawyers, who brainstormed with Simpson over the holiday recess, said in court papers that a pretrial hearing on whether to admit DNA evidence would cost too much money, waste time and duplicate evidence presented at trial.
Instead, they plan to challenge the reliability of the evidence in front of the jury, arguing that the findings can’t be trusted because of sloppy police work in gathering and testing blood samples.
Simpson, who appeared to have lost considerable weight over the break, told Superior Court Judge Lance Ito that he agreed with the move, which wipes out a potential route of appeal if he is convicted.
“I have full confidence in my lawyers,” Simpson said.
In another about-face, the defense dropped its opposition to sequestering the jury during the trial.
The prosecution had always sought to keep jurors at a hotel or other lodging to shield them from the extraordinary publicity surrounding the case.
Ito said he will call the 12 jurors and 12 alternates, chosen late last year, and tell them to pack their bags and prepare for life away from home beginning next Wednesday.
That’s when Ito will consider a defense request that he disallow evidence of domestic violence in the Simpson home. The judge also will hear more arguments about Detective Mark Fuhrman, who found a bloody glove on Simpson’s estate. The defense contends Fuhrman is a racist who planted the evidence to frame Simpson.
Simpson, 47, is charged with murder in the June 12 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
With the new schedule, opening statements are expected before month’s end.
Defense lawyers refused to comment outside court on the shift in strategy. Prosecutors were elated. “It’s a great assistance to our case,” said Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark. “We now know all the evidence is going to come in.”
Ito didn’t say during the brief hearing how long he planned to sequester the jury, but Clark quoted him as saying in chambers that the sequestration would be for the duration of the trial.
In another development, Ito ordered a hearing Jan. 13 on a prosecution subpoena served on Simpson’s first wife, Marquerite Simpson Thomas. Thomas doesn’t have to appear at the hearing.
Thomas’ attorney, Carl Jones, had asked the court to quash the subpoena, saying that the officers who showed up at Thomas’ house in Orange County on Dec. 27 had “tricked” her husband out of the house in order to serve the document.