Prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson case labored Friday to control the damage from Thursday, when Simpson struggled to don the bloody leather gloves they say he wore while murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
A day later, the spectacle of Simpson standing in front of the jury box, tugging at the gloves and announcing they were too small, was still the talk of the courthouse.
Friday Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden recalled to the stand Richard Rubin, a former executive with the company that manufactured the gloves, who testified that moisture could cause gloves to shrink up to 15 percent and that the bloody gloves appeared smaller than suggested by the extra-large label. Earlier, a crime lab expert testified the gloves had absorbed about 3 cubic centimeters of blood.
At Darden’s request, Rubin also tried the gloves on over a pair of white latex lab gloves, as Simpson had, and found that he could not insert his hand into the left-hand glove - which was found near the bodies - because the cashmere lining had been dislodged.
In another effort to link the gloves to Simpson, Darden had Simpson’s black leather golf bag brought into the courtroom and had Rubin remove and try on three white golf gloves, all extra-large. Darden suggested that Simpson’s problems the day before were caused by the mangled lining, the shrinkage factor and the added bulk from the latex gloves.
But outside the presence of the jury, defense lawyer Robert Shapiro asserted that the lining was intact when Simpson tried the glove on and that it wasn’t dislodged until the end of the day, when it was examined by a defense expert.
On cross-examination by lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, Rubin acknowledged that the gloves were made to withstand East Coast winters and were somewhat shrinkresistant. In an apparent reference to the blood on the gloves, Cochran asked Rubin if he knew how much liquid was in 3 cc’s.
“Yes, I’m very familiar with 3 cc,” he replied.
Cochran then asked if 3 cc’s of liquid would cause “your very expensive Aris gloves” to shrink 10 percent to 15 percent.
“Three cc of liquid would have no effect whatsoever on those gloves,” Rubin said.
Rubin also acknowledged that the gloves were designed to fit snugly and would require some effort to be pulled off. Prosecutors have alleged that the left-handed glove was pulled off in the struggle with Goldman at the crime scene.
A sidebar transcript from Thursday indicated that Darden wanted Simpson to try on a new pair of gloves similar to those in the case. When defense lawyers objected to that, it was Superior Court Judge Lance Ito who suggested that it would be “more appropriate for him to try the other gloves on … I mean, the real gloves that were found.”
And that was what happened, despite concerns by prosecutor Marcia Clark that the latex gloves might alter the fit.
Several courtroom experts agreed that the Thursday demonstration was a mistake. “It was an unbelievable blunder,” said Harland Braun, a noted Los Angeles defense lawyer. “They had nothing to gain and everything to lose.”