O.J. Simpson’s closest buddies will soon be used against him at his wrongful death trial as the plaintiffs try to bolster their claim that he abused and killed his ex-wife and her friend.
The plaintiffs gave the court a list of 32 witnesses Wednesday, including such familiar names as Al Cowlings, Robert Kardashian, Ron Shipp, and a trio of pals who golfed with Simpson the day of the killings.
The case began a weeklong recess Tuesday after Simpson endured slightly more than two days of merciless questioning. The new witness list appears to be a strategy to zero in on his demeanor and present detail-by-detail challenges to his testimony.
“They’ve told us that O.J. is lying about everything and everyone else is telling the truth,” said Loyola University Law School Dean Laurie Levenson. “Now it’s time to show us everyone else.”
The witnesses are expected to speak extremely briefly, each on a specific point, leaving little room for cross-examination. Such strategy would not be without risk, however.
“If the devil is in the details, they’d have to hope that the witnesses describe the details they want. And there is no guarantee of that,” Levenson said.
The list also included members of the families of victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, who are going after Simpson’s money, trying to hold him responsible for the deaths despite his acquittal on murder charges.
With the Santa Monica trial in recess, Simpson was in an Orange County court Wednesday where his ex-wife’s parents have been seeking custody of his two young children. Those proceedings are private.
The witness list also includes Simpson’s longtime lawyer, Skip Taft, three Hertz executives, an attorney who sat by Simpson on a flight to Chicago, and ex-girlfriend Paula Barbieri, with testimony to be presented from videotaped depositions.
The plaintiffs also listed Simpson’s two housekeepers, Gigi Guarin and Michelle Abudrahm, as well as Dale St. John, owner of a limousine service Simpson used the night of the slayings.
Simpson claimed he never hit his wife, never owned a dark sweatsuit and never wore Bruno Magli shoes. A picture showing them on his feet is a fraud, he said.
But house guest Brian “Kato” Kaelin has already described Simpson wearing a “sharp” jogging suit, dark with a white zipper, when they went to McDonald’s the night of the slayings.
And a wardrobe mistress who worked on Simpson’s exercise video about a month before the slayings is expected to say she provided Simpson a dark sweatsuit he wore on the set and that she gave it to him as a gift.
If her recollection is exact, it could help to impeach Simpson’s testimony that he returned the suit after the video shoot.
Plaintiff lawyer Daniel Petrocelli contends Simpson wore that sweatsuit to his ex-wife’s condo the night of the slayings, and that blue-black fibers found on the victims’ clothing came from that sweatsuit.
“They’ve put the gloves on his hands (in pictures), the Bruno Magli shoes on his feet and now they’re trying to outfit him,” said Lawrence Schiller, author of “American Tragedy,” a book on the Simpson case.