May 20, 1995 in Nation/World

Simpson Attorneys Debate Graphic Autopsy Photographs Theory: Killer Pulled Nicole By Hair Before Slashing Throat

Linda Deutsch Associated Press
 
Tags:trial

Nicole Brown Simpson was likely lying face down when her killer put his foot on her back, pulled her head up by the hair and slit her throat, a prosecutor said Friday.

At a hearing over whether graphic autopsy photos should be introduced, defense attorney Robert Shapiro responded that the pictures would cause “revulsion and horror” in jurors. “It’s unlikely anyone would look at these photos and not get sick to their stomach,” he said.

Offering the most detailed description to date of the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, Deputy District Attorney Brian Kelberg said the defense was trying to “keep from the jury the best evidence of what we contend O.J. Simpson did.”

Kelberg, a newcomer to the case, also raised the possibility prosecutors will seek an instruction in seconddegree murder in case jurors don’t find the premeditation necessary for a first-degree-murder conviction.

Defense attorney Gerald Uelmen said the defense continues to pursue an “all or nothing” verdict.

The jurors and Simpson weren’t in court for the afternoon hearing. Earlier, a DNA expert underwent a second day of cross-examination.

In arguing for the photos, Kelberg said Nicole Simpson’s wounds are consistent with her killer “coming up from behind her, placing a foot on the part of her back that has this nonspecific blunt force trauma … then pulling with one hand her hair and pulling her head back, which would obviously then expose the full area of the neck.

“And then with his right hand taking a knife and drawing it across from the left to the right … to cause what is this major wound that would sever both the carotids of the left and right and the jugular veins of both the left and right sides,” he said.

Although prosecutors have said Goldman fought his assailant, Kelberg said Goldman’s wounds show that he also was stabbed when he could offer “little, if any, resistance.”

Simpson’s motive in delivering the coup de grace to Goldman - Nicole Simpson’s friend and waiter who was returning a pair of glasses - was to avoid being identified, Kelberg said.

Both victims’ wounds were described in detail at last summer’s preliminary hearing, and prosecutor Marcia Clark offered a tentative scenario of the killings during her opening statement. But her reconstruction wasn’t as graphic or detailed as Kelberg’s.

Shapiro argued that the heads of the victims had been propped up in the photos to show open, gaping throat wounds. Kelberg said this was necessary to show the force of the knife thrusts.

Judge Lance Ito said he would issue written rulings on which photos could be used.

Outside court, the family and friends of Nicole Simpson marked what would have been her 36th birthday.

The family issued a public birthday message and Simpson’s daughter by his first wife left orchids and a card at Nicole Simpson’s grave, which was decorated with bouquets and balloons.

“Happy 36 birthday. We love you and miss you,” said the card signed by Simpson’s daughter Arnelle and his friend, Al “A.C.” Cowlings.


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