Bringing to a close the most dramatic stage in the civil case yet, O.J. Simpson stepped down from the witness stand Tuesday without any effort by his lawyer to undo the damage from two days of accusations from the other side.
Defense attorney Robert Baker had been expected to throw Simpson a round of sympathetic questions. But in a surprise move criticized by some experts, Baker said he will call Simpson back to the stand during the defense portion of the wrongful-death lawsuit next month.
As a result, the jurors headed home for a six-day Thanksgiving holiday carrying a final image of Simpson denying yet again that he stabbed to death Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The trial resumes on Tuesday.
Baker’s decision to postpone Simpson’s “rehabilitation” in front of the jury came as a surprise.
“I think it’s a bad idea,” said the Wyoming defense attorney Gerry Spence. “You want to have your client tell his story as many times as possible, assuming he has a story to tell and can tell it effectively. He has certainly shown he can tell it effectively.”
But Loyola University Law School Dean Laurie Levenson called it a smart move on Baker’s part. “This way, when they put O.J. on the stand,” she said, “he will be well-packaged. He’ll be surrounded by defense witnesses who will have done much of the explaining for him.”