Retired detective Mark Fuhrman pleaded no contest to perjury Wednesday for denying under oath at O.J. Simpson’s trial that he had used racial slurs in the past decade. He was given three years’ probation and fined $200.
The charges and Fuhrman’s plea bargain came exactly one year after a mostly black jury voted to acquit Simpson, whose defense rested largely on allegations that the detective led a racist police frame-up.
Fuhrman, who retired from the Los Angeles Police Department after working on the Simpson case, now lives in a rural North Idaho home and works as an apprentice electrician.
It was Fuhrman who found one of the most critical pieces of evidence - the bloody glove in Simpson’s yard. But the detective became the prosecution’s biggest embarrassment after his past statements came to light.
Fuhrman was charged with lying on March 15, 1995, when he agreed under cross-examination from F. Lee Bailey “that he had not addressed any black person as a ‘nigger’ or spoken about black people as ‘niggers’ in the past 10 years.”
Four defense witnesses contradicted that testimony, including an aspiring screenwriter who testified that Fuhrman said the word at least 41 times on tapes they made while working on a screenplay over the previous decade. Jurors were played one example of the word on the tapes.
Fuhrman could have gotten four years in prison on the felony perjury charge.
Superior Court Judge John Ouderkirk accepted Fuhrman’s plea, calling the deal “appropriate and fair.”
He wore a dark business suit and answered only, “Yes, your honor” Wednesday when asked if he accepted and understood his plea.
Fuhrman will be allowed to serve his probation in the Sandpoint area.
Before he entered the plea, Fuhrman was served with a subpoena from Simpson’s lawyers ordering him to testify in Simpson’s civil trial, now in the jury selection stage in Santa Monica.
The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are suing Simpson for unspecified damages, seeking to hold him responsible for their deaths.
Fuhrman gave a videotaped deposition in the civil case in April at the Carriage Inn at the Twin Lakes Village Golf Course north of Rathdrum.
Fuhrman’s Sandpoint attorney, Ford Elsaesser, declined to comment on what was said in the deposition, but a source close to the case told the Associated Press that Fuhrman repeatedly refused to answer questions.
Fuhrman had been expected to invoke his right not to incriminate himself in the deposition. He took the Fifth Amendment and didn’t answer questions when he was recalled to testify in the Simpson criminal trial.
Whether Fuhrman testifies or not at the civil trial, his legacy undoubtedly will have an impact.
One prospective juror called him an “egotistical, opportunistic cop who conspired to frame Simpson.”
Another called him a “cocky jerk.” And others have noted that he lied on the witness stand and expressed racist attitudes.
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