For a second straight day, veteran defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey hammered away at the prosecution’s star police witness, seeking to show that the detective tripped himself up in his zeal to frame O.J. Simpson for double murder.
Challenging Detective Mark Fuhrman’s credibility with methodical, precise questions, Bailey sought to open potential holes in Fuhrman’s testimony about what he did and why he did it in the early morning hours following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman.
But the renowned cross-examiner failed to shake the witness from his basic story - that he found a bloody glove on a rear walkway of Simpson’s estate that matched another glove found at the murder site.
Bailey showed the predominately black jury a letter written to the defense by Kathleen Bell in which she alleges that Fuhrman referred to African Americans as “niggers” and said he would fabricate a reason, if necessary, for pulling over a vehicle driven by a black man and a white woman. O.J. Simpson is black and his ex-wife Nicole Simpson was white.
The jury first saw the letter last week when prosecutor Marcia Clark introduced it in opening Fuhrman’s testimony. As he did then, Fuhrman denied ever meeting Bell or making the comments.
Fuhrman has remained unflappable during two days of Bailey’s aggressive grilling. But Bailey tried to show jurors that Fuhrman’s cool was calculated by quizzing him about the preparation he had received from prosecutors during a mock session held in an empty grand jury room at the courthouse.
“Was any of it designed to help you keep your temper?” asked Bailey.
“No,” replied Fuhrman.
Bailey tried to show that Fuhrman stood to gain financially from his testimony by filing slander or libel suits for damages after the trial ends. Asked why he has retained an attorney, Fuhrman answered forcefully: “Because I was defamed in the media for planting evidence in a capital crime.”
It was another day of thrust and counter thrust between two former Marines who both have pride and reputation at stake in their confrontation before a national television audience. Bailey is seeking to demolish a key prosecution witness and thereby discredit one of the most damaging pieces of evidence linking his celebrity client to the murder scene.
Fuhrman, a 19-year police force veteran, is seeking to redeem a reputation that has been battered by weeks of defense allegations that he is an emotionally disturbed racist who sought to frame Simpson because he hates blacks.
Bailey scored points in several areas during the day. He homed in on Fuhrman’s claim that the glove he found on the estate at around 6 a.m. was “moist and sticky” with blood - nearly eight hours after prosecutors contend the slayings occurred.
Bailey asked Fuhrman if he knew “the rate at which blood dries at 60 degrees Fahrenheit, as it was that night.” Fuhrman said he did not, but Bailey went on to ask how the blood could have remained wet “unless it was encased in plastic or rubber” - suggesting that Fuhrman had purloined the evidence from the murder scene, put it in a bag and later planted it at the estate.
Bailey hammered Fuhrman again on the detective’s decision to venture to the rear walkway without backup from other policemen at the scene, despite Fuhrman’s assertion that a suspect might be lurking there.
He questioned why Fuhrman chose to spend 10 to 15 minutes alone at the site, even after the detective purportedly discovered evidence that suggested a killer had been at the site.
And he faulted Fuhrman for trampling over the pathway and possibly destroying footprint evidence.
Bailey’s goal in each instance was to suggest Fuhrman had arranged to be alone on the walkway to have time to plant the second glove without being detected.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with story: The Simpson File NOT A BLACK-AND-WHITE ISSUE? O.J. Simpson’s lawyers say the Mark Fuhrman despises blacks, Latinos and interracial dating. But Fuhrman’s allies have a witness of their own, a black L.A. deputy DA who says he “is not a guy to get people because of their color.” Danette Meyers tells Time magazine Fuhrman once argued that several black USC football players convicted of a kidnapping and string of robberies deserved leniency. She agreed to let the players from O.J.’s old school plea-bargain for 15-year sentences. “Without Mark Fuhrman, they would have gone away for life,” she notes. Knight-Ridder