The focus of the O.J. Simpson trial is scheduled to shift today from the mind-numbing science of DNA evidence to the emotion-charged issue of autopsy photographs and what they say about the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito adjourned the proceedings early Thursday so prosecutors could prepare for the new phase of testimony, which is expected to begin with chief medical examiner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran.
But there was a flurry of activity outside the courtroom, including word that Kansas City Chiefs running back Marcus Allen has been subpoenaed to appear as a witness for the defense and indications that Ito is considering the removal of yet another juror.
Simpson’s lawyers asked Ito to subpoena Allen as a material witness.
Sources close to the case have alleged that Allen told Simpson that he had had an affair with Nicole Simpson but Simpson nonetheless allowed Allen to have his wedding in Simpson’s Brentwood home. The defense wants to use the alleged gesture to dispute the prosecution’s portrayal of Simpson as an obsessed ex-husband who killed his ex-wife in a jealous rage.
But Allen’s lawyer, Ed Hookstratten, denounced the stories as lies planted by a desperate defense team. “It’s the same old fiction that they’re re-dredging, that they tried last year, that old allegation that Marcus had an affair with Nicole, which is completely bogus,” he said.
Simpson and Allen were close friends, with Simpson playing the role of mentor to the younger athlete. But Hookstratten said the two “were not close” in the past two years.
“He felt sorry for O.J. and for Nicole and the family,” Hookstratten said of Allen after the murders. But he said Allen is upset about the accusations. “He’s being dragged into something,” he said. “He’s become a victim.”
Hookstratten said that as of late Thursday, Allen had not been served with a subpoena and had no plans to appear at a hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today before a judge in Kansas City. A law secretary for the judge said the subpoena had been issued and that the hearing was scheduled in case Allen wants to contest the order.
Simpson’s chief lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, declined comment on Allen but confirmed that Ito still is grappling with juror problems and that a decision on whether to dismiss a ninth juror would be made today.
In another development, Michael Viner, publisher of Dove Books, has been subpoenaed to appear before Ito today.
Viner said he assumes it is related to a book by ousted juror Michael Knox which is expected to be released this month. The book reportedly deals with Knox’s observations about his fellow jurors, whom he identifies by first names.