A prosecution witness blurted out Wednesday that he once thought O.J. Simpson had “an airtight alibi,” igniting a defense demand that jurors hear Simpson’s police statement, perhaps without him testifying.
The comment by police criminalist Collin Yamauchi set off one of the most explosive legal arguments in Simpson’s murder trial in weeks.
The defense seized upon it as an opening to present Simpson’s statement without requiring the ex-football star to take the witness stand and risk hostile cross-examination.
Judge Lance Ito delayed a decision and asked both sides to present their legal arguments today. A ruling in favor of Simpson would be handing “a plum” to the defense, according to one law professor.
After jurors were hustled out of the courtroom, prosecutor Marcia Clark, her voice rising to a shout, said there was no way Simpson’s self-serving statement to police should be presented to jurors.
Simpson’s 32-minute voluntary interview was given on June 13 just after he returned from Chicago. He had flown there late the night before for a planned business trip.
When police asked Simpson during the interview if he had any ideas about what might have happened to his ex-wife on June 12, he replied: “I have no idea, man. You guys haven’t told me anything. … I have absolutely no idea.”
Nonetheless, he also told police he knew he was the prime target of the investigation into the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Clark said Yamauchi’s conclusion that Simpson had an alibi was based on media reports, not the police interview. She said that at the time, Yamauchi didn’t even know about the interview.
“To say that his recollection of a news report somehow opens up the defendant’s statement makes no sense at all,” Clark argued.
Yamauchi’s brief comment was elicited by prosecutor Rockne Harmon to show that the scientist wasn’t biased against Simpson when he started testing evidence.