March 23, 1995 in Nation/World

Friend Testifies O.J. Was ‘Upset’ But Not ‘Yelling And Screaming’

Robin Clark Knight-Ridder
 
Tags:trial

O.J. Simpson was “upset” with his ex-wife hours before her death, telling houseguest Brian “Kato” Kaelin that it “was over” between the couple and complaining about the “tight outfit” Nicole Brown Simpson had worn to their daughter’s dance recital.

But Kaelin, whose testimony turned somber Wednesday under tough questioning by prosecutor Marcia Clark, denied ever telling a friend that Simpson had been “yelling and screaming” or clenching his fists and teeth when he talked about his ex-wife the day of her murder.

“I’m still a friend,” Kaelin said of Simpson, whom he referred to as “O.J.” But, he insisted, “I know my job is to be 100 percent honest, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Kaelin acknowledged holding a series of meetings and conversations with Simpson, his lawyers and his personal secretary in the days following the June 12 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ron Goldman- including one in which Simpson told him, “Kato, you know I was in the house” when the killings occurred.

But Kaelin said he told Simpson that he hadn’t actually seen him go inside the house after they had returned from McDonald’s about 9:40 p.m., less than an hour before police contend that Simpson slashed the victims to death two miles away.

And he insisted that neither Simpson nor his lawyers ever had pressured or coaxed him to change his story to support Simpson’s alibi.

“They said to tell the truth,” Kaelin said earnestly.

However, a friend of Kaelin’s, whom Clark identified as Grant Kramer, has spoken extensively with prosecutors, reportedly telling them that Kaelin has softened his story to help Simpson.

Clark, taking a hard line with the trial’s most affable figure, pointed out that Kaelin’s acting career has soared since he became known as Simpson’s sidekick and alibi witness.At the prosecutor’s request, Kaelin recited a list of his recent or forthcoming projects: two talk-show hosting jobs, a three-part interview with “A Current Affair,” roles in two TV shows and one feature film and a voice-over for a cartoon.

“Would it be fair to say that you’ve had more acting roles in the last nine months since the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown than you had in the last 10 years?” Clark asked.

“Yes,” Kaelin said.

Clark’s pointed questioning contrasted sharply with the tenor of their exchanges earlier in the day, when Clark sometimes seemed to be feeding straight lines to the spacey, mophaired witness.

Questioning Kaelin Wednesday morning about his now-famous trip to McDonald’s in Simpson’s Bentley, Clark asked, “Did he seem real excited to have you come?”

“Wouldn’t you?” Kaelin asked the prosecutor as jurors stifled giggles.

Later, when Clark asked if Nicole Simpson’s pet Akita sometimes would “come over by itself” to Simpson’s mansion - meaning without the couple’s two children - Kaelin quipped, “It drove!”

But both witness and prosecutor turned serious when the focus shifted to the murder night and the noise that Kaelin said he first mistook for an earthquake and later concluded was made by a prowler outside his bedroom.

Kaelin said three loud thumps rattled the wall of his guest house about 10:40 p.m., knocking a picture ajar above his night stand.

He admitted being “scared” as he searched the path behind Simpson’s mansion for a prowler, turning back before reaching the spot where police later found a bloody glove.

Clark asked Kaelin repeatedly whether he had noticed Simpson “bleeding or cut on either hand” during the evening of the murders.

“No,” Kaelin said.

But Kaelin resisted Clark’s efforts to portray Simpson as enraged following his daughter’s dance recital.

Though Kaelin said Simpson had complained later that Nicole had worn a “tight” dress to the performance and had whisked daughter Sydney away to a family dinner to which he was not invited, Kaelin said, “I don’t know what you mean by angry, what anger is.”

Kaelin also denied telling friend Grant Kramer that Simpson had seemed “more nervous and frazzled than (he) had ever seen him before” when Simpson scrambled to catch an airport limo shortly after 11 p.m.

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