The judge in O.J. Simpson’s wrongful death trial refused Tuesday to let a witness gouge a defense lawyer’s flesh to show jurors how someone could claw out chunks of a person’s fingers in a fight to the death.
“We’re not going to have any gouging of flesh out in my courtroom,” Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki told attorney Robert Baker and forensic pathologist Werner Spitz after Baker challenged Spitz to show jurors how it was possible.
Then, in a rare display of repulsion, some of the normally passive jurors averted their eyes from ghastly autopsy pictures of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, only to be lectured by the judge to pay attention.
“Jurors, jurors!” Fujisaki exclaimed. “You are jurors. You have to watch the testimony and you have to watch the witness as the witness is testifying.”
Earlier Tuesday, Baker challenged the noted pathologist to use his own fingernails to show how Goldman, who had short fingernails, could have gouged flesh from the hand of an assailant - allegedly Simpson.
“Go ahead, gouge me!” challenged Baker.
“Do you want me to scoop tissue out? You may be sorry,” said the astonished Dr. Spitz.
The judge did allow Spitz to dig his fingernails into his own arm to show it would leave indentations. He held his arm aloft for jurors to see. He did not draw any blood.
Simpson was in a courtroom 30 miles away fighting for custody of his children. He missed the confrontation that followed Spitz’s testimony last week that mysterious cuts photographed on Simpson’s hand a day after the murders could have been left by victims clawing at their killer.
“When you fight for your life and dig in deep with no concern for pain, you press back flesh under the nails,” said Spitz, explaining how stubby nails could still make marks.
At one point, Baker asked, “But those fingernail marks are not going to be made if somebody is wearing gloves?”
“Yes, that’s correct,” said Spitz, adding the killer must have lost the glove at some point.