March 29, 1995 in Nation/World

Limousine Driver Puts Dent In O.J. Simpson’s Alibi

Philadelphia Inquirer
 
Tags:trial

Limousine driver Allan Park drove a gaping hole through O.J. Simpson’s murder-night alibi Tuesday, testifying that he did not see the defendant’s Ford Bronco parked outside his Brentwood mansion around the time that his ex-wife and her friend were slashed to death two miles away.

Park, in crucial testimony for the prosecution, also told jurors that he repeatedly rang the buzzer at Simpson’s gate for almost 15 minutes before Simpson answered at 10:54 p.m., saying he had “overslept … and he’d be down in a minute.”

Moments before hearing Simpson’s voice on the intercom, Park said, he saw a “6-foot, 200-pound” black person in dark clothing cross the driveway and enter the house.

Later, as Park sped Simpson to the airport for a red-eye flight to Chicago, he said, the former football star complained repeatedly of the heat - turning on the air conditioner and rolling down a window - though Park described the weather as mild, about 70 degrees.

Park’s testimony provided the strongest support yet for the prosecution’s theory that Simpson murdered Nicole Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman about 10:15 p.m. on June 12, then rushed home to catch an airport limo that he hoped would give him with an ironclad alibi.

Although Park said he could not identify Simpson as the shadowy figure he had seen on the driveway that night, prosecutor Marcia Clark had Simpson stand at the defense table.

“Does that appear to be the size of the person who you saw go into the house?” the prosecutor asked.

“Yes, around the size,” Park answered as Simpson smiled and nodded.

In a case where timing is critical, Park seemed a prosecutor’s dream. A fretful, rookie driver on his first run to Brentwood, he arrived early, checked his watch often and spoke several times on the limousine’s cellular phone, allowing prosecutors to pinpoint the timing of key events with telephone records.

“Was that white Bronco parked there?” Clark asked, displaying a photograph of the vehicle parked just north of the Simpson’s Rockingham Avenue gate, where police found it the next morning.

“I didn’t see it,” Park said.

“Were you looking very carefully?” Clark asked.

“Yes,” said Park, who noted that the Bronco was parked beside a white curb marker that he had used to find Simpson’s house number in the unfamiliar neighborhood.

Late in the day, defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. took over, seeking to undo the damage by undermining Park’s account in subtle ways.

Cochran pointed out that when Park and Simpson left for the airport, Park did not recall seeing the Bronco then, either - raising the possibility that he had simply overlooked it earlier.

Cochran also questioned Park closely on Simpson’s appearance and demeanor.

“You didn’t see any cuts on his hands. … You didn’t see Mr. Simpson bleeding that evening, did you?” Cochran said.

“No,” Park said.

Park also agreed that he didn’t notice “anything unusual” about Simpson’s demeanor, noting that he had paused at the airport to sign an autograph for an airline employee.

On several key points, Park’s account jibed with that of Simpson houseguest Brian “Kato” Kaelin, who left the witness stand Tuesday morning after nearly five days of testimony.

Park said Kaelin - the first person he saw while ringing the buzzer outside Simpson’s gate - told him about the thumps he had heard against the bedroom wall and asked the driver, “Did we have an earthquake?”

Park also echoed Kaelin’s testimony that Simpson himself insisted on loading into the limousine a small, black knapsack that prosecutors assert contained a knife and bloody clothes - evidence that has never been recovered.

Before Kaelin left the witness stand Tuesday, Clark took one last slap at the rent-free luxury he enjoyed as Simpson’s houseguest - suggesting that access to the pool, jacuzzi and other amenities had left Kaelin feeling “obligated” to soften his testimony in Simpson’s favor.

But Kaelin, as he had so often, merely looked confused by the question.

“Can you explain ‘obligated’?” he asked.


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