O.J. Simpson’s judge, seething at a prosecutor for springing surprise evidence, abruptly recessed the murder trial Wednesday and threatened sanctions on the prosecution for withholding pictures allegedly linking Simpson’s clothes to fibers found at the crime scene.
Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark denied she had purposely hidden the pictures, insisting that prosecutors disclosed reports on the fiber evidence and that the pictures were merely “illustrative.”
“Your honor, the notes were turned over to the defense. The photos are not evidence,” Clark told Superior Court Judge Lance Ito.
“If the photos are not the evidence, you don’t need them,” the judge snapped during arguments outside the presence of the jury.
“There’s an old Chinese saying that a picture is worth a thousand words,” he added. “To argue it’s not evidence is a specious argument.”
Ito said he was “troubled” by Clark’s effort to show the photos to the jury without first giving defense attorneys time to investigate them. Clark insisted she hadn’t seen the picture display prepared by an FBI expert until last week.
But her witness, FBI Special Agent Douglas Deedrick, told Ito the pictures were taken in 1994 and given to the prosecution in April.
The pictures show tiny strands of bluishblack fiber on several items of key evidence: a pair of bloody socks, a bloody glove and the shirt of victim Ronald Goldman. One piece of fiber is entwined with a hair from victim Nicole Brown Simpson.
Ito noted that another display prepared for jurors includes a picture of Simpson, taken hours before the killings, wearing dark clothing.
“Given the type of clothing that Mr. Simpson was wearing, you’re going to argue … that this is fiber from the clothing of the assailant?” Ito asked.
“Yes, your honor, I am,” Clark said.
Police have never found the killer’s clothing.
Ito recessed the trial about 40 minutes earlier than scheduled to give defense lawyers time to analyze the pictures.
“If that is still not adequate time … I will consider other sanctions, as I would like to finish this case sometime this lifetime,” the judge said testily.