Both sides in the O.J. Simpson murder trial battled Tuesday over one of the central mysteries of the case: why the bloody right-hand glove found behind Simpson’s house shortly after Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman had been killed has no blood around it and what that says about Simpson’s guilt or innocence.
Lawyers for Simpson, trying to neutralize one of the potentially most incriminating exhibits of the case, sought to show that if Simpson had dropped the glove behind his house at 360 N. Rockingham Ave. and had been bleeding at the time, as the police said, drops of his blood would have been found nearby.
“How much blood was found?” one of Simpson’s defense lawyers, Robert L. Shapiro, asked Philip Vannatter, a lead detective in the case.
“None, none that I’m aware of,” Vannatter replied. Nor, the detective said, was there any blood on the wire fence nearby or on adjacent property.
Prosecutors never have explained how Simpson could have been along the walkway to the rear of his house, where the glove was discovered, if drops of Simpson’s blood led from the Ford Bronco outside his home to the foyer inside. The glove, extralarge and made of leather, matches the left-handed glove found near the bodies of Simpson and Goldman at 875 South Bundy Drive.
Nor have prosecutors explained the presence of blood in one place and not in the other. In a series of questions, Deputy District Attorney Christopher A. Darden tried to fill that void. One explanation he offered was that the area is so overgrown that blood could not necessarily be spotted.
“Did you pick up each and every leaf and examine it?” the prosecutor asked Vannatter. The detective said he had not.
Darden then asked whether it was possible that the person carrying the glove had put his bleeding finger in his pocket to cover his trail. Shapiro’s objection was sustained, but the point had been made.
Peter Arenella, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, said Darden’s explanation raises questions about why someone so careful to staunch the blood flow in one place could have let himself drip so freely at another.
But quite apart from unsubstantiated defense charges that the “Rockingham glove” was planted, he said, its location poses problems for the prosecution.
“There are often unresolved questions, things that don’t completely add up, but they don’t necessarily create a reasonable doubt of guilt,” Arenella said. “But realistically speaking, before the jury is willing to convict O.J. Simpson, they might demand that questions like this inconsistent blood trail be answered.”
Vannatter concluded his testimony Tuesday after four days on the stand. He then gave way to Simpson’s former house guest, Brian “Kato” Kaelin, who said he had told police detective Mark Fuhrman that he had heard several thumps on the rear wall of his bedroom on the night of the killings. It was then that Fuhrman went outside and found the glove.