Copyright 1994 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
July 7, 1994, Thursday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Page 17; Column 1; National Desk
LENGTH: 1204 words
HEADLINE: Detectives in Simpson Case Defend Search
BYLINE: By B. DRUMMOND AYRES Jr., Special to The New York Times
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES, July 6
Two Los Angeles police detectives testified today that fear for the safety of people in O. J. Simpson's home led them to enter its grounds without a search warrant in the early morning after Mr. Simpson's former wife and one of her friends were found murdered nearby.
The detectives, Mark Fuhrman and Philip L. Vannatter, contended that their unauthorized entrance over a five-foot-high fence was justified because there were so many unanswered questions and because time was at a premium in the hours immediately after the killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman.
Even at the moment of entering the grounds, the detectives said, they were not sure whether Mr. Simpson was still alive.
But lawyers for Mr. Simpson, who has been charged in the two killings, argued that there was no emergency and that in any case the officers had not acted as if there was one.
Pressed by questions from the defense, the officers acknowledged that they did not call for backup cars or wear protective vests when they entered the property, steps often taken in emergencies.
The defense lawyers said the batch of evidence obtained by detectives after their unauthorized entrance should be excluded from the case and from the preliminary hearing that will determine whether, in fact, there is enough evidence to send Mr. Simpson to trial.
The Municipal Court judge conducting the hearing, Kathleen Kennedy-Powell, said she would rule on Thursday whether all or some of the 34 items of evidence the police seized at the scene should be excluded.
While search warrants are generally required to enter property to seek evidence, there are exceptions, as when a life is in jeopardy. Even in those cases, the police may gather only evidence that is in plain view.
A Speck of Blood
At today's proceedings, again televised nationally, Mr. Fuhrman and Mr. Vannatter testified that after looking over the blood-smeared murder scene at Mrs. Simpson's condomenium in the early hours of their investigation, they decided to make the short drive to Mr. Simpson's home. They said they wanted to notify Mr. Simpson of the death of his former wife and talk to him about the care of his two young children by Mrs. Simpson.
They were unable to raise anyone when they arrived at the house, they said, and then found blood on a white van outside the locked gate of the property.
"I observed what I thought was blood," Mr. Vannatter said. "It was a small spot, an eighth or a quarter of an inch."
Asked on cross-examination how he was able to see the blood, Mr. Vannatter said he used a flashlight and put on his reading glasses.
"I think seeing the blood was the trigger that caused me to make the decision to go over the fence." he said.
"I made a decision that we should go in there and check to see if everything was O.K.," he said. "We were within five minutes of a very, very brutal murder scene. I was concerned that this could be a second murder scene, whether someone was stalking Mr. Simpson and his wife. I didn't really know at that point what I had or what I was looking for."
Lawyers for Mr. Simpson, who sat impassively throughout most of today's proceedings, contended that there was no emergency that justified the entrance and that therefore it was illegal. They said the subsequent search violated their client's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
"Improper procedures were used from the beginning of this investigation," Robert L. Shapiro, Mr. Simpson's chief lawyer, said in his spirited, often-testy cross-examination of the detectives.
Included in the evidence seized at Mr. Simpson's home is what may be one of the prosecution's most important physical finds, a bloody glove that investigators have indicated is the mate of a bloody glove found at the murder scene. In the absence of any witnesses placing Mr. Simpson at the murder scene, the pairing of the gloves could be crucial to the prosecution's case.
For the prosecution to prevail on the evidence issue, it must convince the court that fear for the safety of anyone on the grounds of Mr. Simpson's home was merited and thus strong enough to override the usual constitutional restraints on searches without a warrant.
"They had to do something to assure themselves that any people inside were safe," the lead prosecutor, Marcia Clark, argued this afternoon in defense of the detectives. "Had they not gone in, we would justifiably have accused them of being derelict in their duty. We would have said they were incompetent. The search was reasonably undertaken for the protection of life."
But the defense's expert on evidentiary matter, Gerald Uelmen, countered that the detectives had taken the law into their own hands.
"What we're confronting here," Mr. Uelmen said, "is police officers who believe in conducting the search first and then obtaining the warrant.
"In this case, what is being urged is beyond anything that has ever been granted. Again and again, we have heard the detectives say that they didn't know what they had. Well, we know they didn't have a search warrant."
The two detectives said they repeatedly rang the gate bell when they arrived at the Simpson home, made telephone calls and, at one point, asked the security company that keeps an eye on the property for help in raising someone. The company's security guards, the detectives said, were equally puzzled and pointed out that normally a live-in maid was at the home, even if no one else was.
Once Mr. Fuhrman had climbed over the fence and opened the gate, Mr. Vannatter said, the two detectives roused two sleepy residents, Arnelle Simpson, Mr. Simpson's daughter by his first marriage, and Brian Kaelin, a friend of Mr. Simpson, in rooms in an out-building on the property. It was then, Mr. Vannatter said, that the investigators learned that Mr. Simpson had left a few hours earlier for a flight to Chicago.
The detectives said they had asked Ms. Simpson if she had a key to the main house, that she had replied that she did, and that she had taken the key and let them into the house. If the prosecution can convince the court that Ms. Simpson's action constituted approval for a search, it would go a long way toward making the argument that the search was legal.
Later this afternoon, Ms. Simpson took the stand, the first member of her family heard thus far. She testified that the detectives had never asked her for permission to make a search but did ask about the whereabouts of her father.
"I told them I believed he was out of town," she said.
Mr. Fuhrman told the court that not long after gaining entrance to the grounds, he found a bloody glove and that prompted his decision to seek a search warrant for a detailed check of the house and grounds.
"The adrenaline really started pumping" when he found the glove, Mr. Fuhrman said.
"My heart started pounding,' he said. "I realized what I had finally found. I was caught on a two-foot-wide path, poorly lighted, with only a tiny flashlight and with no vest. I did not believe the circumstances would unfold as they did."
Shortly afterward, he and his partner left the grounds to obtain a search warrant, which was granted at 10:45 A.M.
Copyright 1994 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
July 1, 1994, Friday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section A; Page 1; Column 3; National Desk
LENGTH: 1494 words
HEADLINE: THE SIMPSON CASE: A DISPUTED SEARCH;
Simpson Lawyers Seek to Exclude Bloody Evidence Found at Home
BYLINE: By MICHAEL JANOFSKY, Special to The New York Times
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES, June 30
When four homicide detectives arrived at O. J. Simpson's home early on June 13 to tell him that his former wife had been slashed to death the night before, they found blood on the door of a white Ford Bronco parked at the curb and a trail of blood leading to his front door, a police report shows.
By the end of the day, the report says, the detectives had discovered more blood, in the master bathroom and in the foyer. Outside, they found 13 bloodstains inside the Bronco and a bloodstained glove resembling one found at the home of the victim, Nicole Brown Simpson..
This evidence was made public today in a motion filed by Mr. Simpson's defense lawyers, who argued that all of it should be suppressed.
Robert L. Shapiro, Mr. Simpson's chief counsel, maintained that the detectives had violated the defendant's constitutional rights because they had not obtained a search warrant until nearly six hours after arriving at his house and discovering that he was not at home.
Attached to Mr. Shapiro's motion was the police list of all 34 items of evidence that the detectives say they seized at Mr. Simpson's home on June 13. At a preliminary hearing that began today in Municipal Court here, Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell delayed until next Tuesday a ruling on the admissibility of that evidence.
The hearing, whose larger purpose is to determine whether there is enough of a case against Mr. Simpson to try him on murder charges, began with testimony by a clerk at a downtown Los Angeles cutlery store who said Mr. Simpson bought a 15-inch knife there on May 3. [Page A20.]
The authorities, who have not found a murder weapon, say they believe that a knife similar to the one bought by Mr. Simpson was used to kill Mrs. Simpson and a friend of hers, Ronald L. Goldman, at her town house here, about two miles from Mr. Simpson's home.
Mr. Simpson has said that he had no involvement in the killing of his former wife or Mr. Goldman and that he was at home at the time, waiting for a limousine that would take him to Los Angeles International Airport for a late-night flight to Chicago.
The evidence list disclosed in the defense motion today provides the first broad look at the prosecution's case against the 46-year-old former football star.
The police report on the gathering of that evidence was written by Philip L. Vannater and Tom Lange, two of the four detectives who went to Mr. Simpson's home early on the morning after the killings. The report lists 24 "red stains," including what the detectives describe as blood on the door handle on the driver's side of the Bronco, blood droplets leading from the van to the front door of the house and blood on a brown leather glove, similar to a glove that investigators say they recovered near the body of Mr.
Goldman outside Mrs. Simpson's home.
An Early but Critical Juncture
The defense motion to suppress the evidence could be crucial to the case against Mr. Simpson.
Because there are apparently no eyewitnesses to the murders, and because the murder weapon has never been found, prosecutors are expected to rely heavily on bloodstains, blood and tissue samples and other evidence seized from Mr. Simpson's home and obtained at the crime scene.
So if defense lawyers can convince a judge that the evidence was gathered in violation of Mr. Simpson's Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure, the prosecution's case could be weakened significantly.
'Control of the Premises'
The defense motion, filed late Wednesday, deals with evidence gathered by the detectives when they went to Mr. Simpson's house at 5 A.M. on June 13 to tell him of the murders. He was not there, however, having left on the flight to Chicago several hours earlier.
When the detectives got no answer by ringing a doorbell at the front gate and telephoning the house, the motion says, one of them climbed over the wall surrounding the house and let three others in. After that, the document says, the detectives walked around the grounds and "assumed control of the premises."
The defense motion contends that the authorities had no right to enter the property after determining that Mr. Simpson was not home. "Once they have determined no one is home by knocking or ringing a bell," the motion says, "their official business is ended."
The document outlines the police activities that followed an entry the defense describes as illegal. It says that before detectives obtained a warrant at 10:45 A.M., they searched for evidence in the pool area, in the guest quarters behind the main house, along a gated narrow passageway behind the guest quarters and in the driveway.
It says, without elaborating, that the detectives "engaged in a general inspection of the premises."
Then, the motion says, they awakened Mr. Simpson's 25-year-old daughter, Arnelle Simpson, and asked her and Brian Kaelin, a family friend who was staying in the guest quarters, to leave "so they could search the premises."
The motion does not make clear whether the defense is contending that the detectives entered the main house before obtaining the search warrant or, if so, whether they entered on their own or at the invitation of Mr. Simpson's daughter.
The defense argues that in addition to the inadmissibility of evidence seized on the grounds and in the house, evidence gathered from the Bronco, parked at the curb, should also be excluded because, the motion says, the subsequently obtained warrant covered only the residence. But a copy of the warrant included with the motion clearly states that it applies to "any and all garages or outbuildings associated to the residence to which the occupants have access, and the 1994 Ford Bronco."
"Based on their observations in the course of these warrantless observations," the motion says of the detectives, "they obtained a search warrant at 10:45 A.M., nearly six hours after they seized the premises."
Police Search Goes On
The office of District Attorney Gil Garcetti says it has at least 60 items of evidence. And as the preliminary hearing began today, detectives were gathering more on a vacant lot near Mr. Simpson's house and on North Bristol Avenue, a street that runs along a route that can be taken from Mrs. Simpson's town house to the defendant's estate.
The District Attorney's office has not yet responded to the defense motion or offered its own account of the search that the detectives conducted the day after the killings. Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman, said, "We will be doing our commenting in court."
Legal experts said that some of the actions described in the defense motion seemed clearly appropriate and legal but that others might raise constitutional issues.
For example, with the Bronco parked outside the walled estate, any bloodstains on the door or even on the front seat might have been clearly visible to any passer-by, so that, under United States Supreme Court rulings, the detectives could have properly observed such stains and included them in their investigation, several legal authorities said.
But other police actions are more questionable. Blair Bernholz, a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles who specializes in evidentiary issues, said that if the defense team's version of what happened was true, "it sounds like prosecutors will have very serious problems with the legality of the search warrant."
Experts on issues of evidence say that in general, evidence "in plain sight" can be used as the basis for seeking a search warrant. Problems can arise, however, when investigators go further on the basis of what they have just seen -- in this case, climbing over Mr. Simpson's wall and looking through the guest house.
In addressing the scope of issues that Judge Kennedy-Powell might explore before ruling on the evidence, Ms. Bernholz suggested that a court might find that the detectives violated Mr. Simpson's rights by climbing over the wall when no one answered the bell at the gate. She also said the long delay between the detectives' arrival at the house and their obtaining a search warrant could prove troublesome to the prosecution.
Victor Gold, a law professor who teaches evidence at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, noted that the Constitution provides for exceptions to the general ban on warrantless searches. One, he said, is for evidence that could disappear or evaporate before a search warrant can be obtained.
"Blood can be very easily wiped away, and, as it dries, some of its properties are transformed," Mr. Gold said, suggesting that the prosecution might effectively raise that argument to justify a search without a warrant.
The police report said officers had determined that Mr. Simpson "had left on an unexpected flight" to Chicago late on the night of the killings. But defense lawyers said in their motion that Arnelle Simpson, Mr. Simpson's grown daughter, had arranged for detectives to reach him in Chicago by telephone.
GRAPHIC: Chart: "INVENTORY: Found at O. J. Simpson's House"
Items and samples collected hours after the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were discovered
EVIDENCE THE DEFENSE TEAM MOVED TO SUPPRESS
Blood on the Ford Bronco near the driver's door handle, passenger door, interior of driver's door, instrument panel, carpet on driver's side floor, rubber portion of driver's floor, driver's seat, steering wheel, center console and front passenger backrest.
Plaid cap found on the driver's-side floor.
Blood on the curb, driveway, garage wall, in the foyer and master bathroom floor.
Wooden stick found on the grass.
Marlboro cigarette butt recovered from the street.
Brown, right-hand glove with blood found on the walkway.
Blue plastic bag found near the chain link fence.
Navy blue socks from the master bedroom.
Airline ticket receipt in a trash can in the bathroom.
Baggage tag on a bench outside the front door.
Vial of blood labeled "O.J. Simpson 6-13-94."
White Reebok athletic shoes.
Hair and fibers removed from the glove.
OTHER EVIDENCE DISCUSSED IN DOCUMENTS OR TESTIMONY:
A 15-inch knife that a clerk from a Los Angeles cutlery store said he sold to Mr. Simpson in May.
Thirty-four hairs from a knit cap found at the murder scene: some with African-American characteristics and some bleached blond.
Human head hairs, brown to black with African-American characteristics, found in a plaid cap from in the Bronco.
Hair and fibers from a brown glove found at Simpson's home, including three human head hairs, bleached blond with Caucasian characteristics.
Glove found at the crime scene. (pg. A20)
Copyright 1994 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
The San Francisco Chronicle
View Related Topics
JULY 8, 1994, FRIDAY, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A1
LENGTH: 737 words
HEADLINE: 'Get a Warrant First' Isn't Always the Rule Judges loath to toss out key murder evidence
BYLINE: Harriet Chiang, Chronicle Legal Affairs Writer
When police push the limits of the law in collecting crucial evidence, as in the Simpson case, judges tend to let these questionable searches slide by -- especially in murder cases.
Trial lawyers said it was no surprise when Municipal Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell denied Simpson's motion to toss out a bloody glove and other evidence found in his house, ruling that police acted reasonably in scaling a wall without a warrant.
In upholding the predawn search of Simpson's home on June 13, hours after his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were found brutally slain, Kennedy-Powell said police ''reasonably believed that a further delay could have resulted in the unnecessary loss of life.''
In recent years, courts have become more conservative -- and have tended to side with the police. Judges are especially loath to help the defense in a gory homicide. In the Simpson double-slaying case, no one expected a judge to make a decision that would deliver a crippling blow to the prosecution -- especially before a nationwide audience.
Jim Collins, a San Francisco defense lawyer, said he believes that the evidence should have been barred. ''But if I was a judge who had to run for re-election and had the focus of the country on me and the criminal justice system,'' he said, ''I probably would have caved in also.''
California law essentially follows the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits ''unreasonable searches and seizures.''
But there are a host of exceptions to the rule, so many that defense lawyers say constitutional protections have been virtually nibbled away.
A basic exception is the existence of ''exigent circumstances,'' such as if police are in ''hot pursuit'' of a suspect or if they believe that someone's life may be in danger or evidence is about to be destroyed. In such cases, police are permitted to enter without a search warrant.
Defense attorneys routinely make motions to suppress evidence, especially in drug cases where the arrest often hinges on the seizure of the drugs.
In the majority of cases, judges deny the motions, giving wide deference to the police.
Courts are especially reluctant to toss out evidence in a murder case, where the stakes are higher. If the Simpson case had involved only a small amount of drugs, lawyers said, the judge might have ruled that the search was illegal.
''When you get into a homicide case, there are different pressures on triers of fact,'' said Frank Zimring, a professor at Boalt School of Law at Berkeley and director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute. ''Those different pressures would lead smart bookies to bet against suppression.''
The U.S. Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court also have become far more pro-prosecution in the past decade.
''The Fourth Amendment has largely become an academic exercise,'' said Grace Suarez, head of research and appeals for the San Francisco public defender's office.
''Generally I find judges deny motions to suppress, period,'' she said. ''The action has to be really right out there. It almost has to have the officer admitting he knew better.''
In the Simpson case, defense lawyers contend that the officers entered the house to conduct an illegal search, not because they were worried that someone might be in danger.
But Bill Fazio, a longtime San Francisco prosecutor, saw no problem with the police action, saying the officers acted reasonably in entering the house to make sure no one was in danger. He noted that police did not ransack or search the place.
''I've seen cases involving outrageous police behavior,'' Fazio said. ''I don't think this even comes close.''
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys say Simpson's lawyers have little chance of overturning Kennedy-Powell's ruling. Under criminal procedures, defense lawyers must wait until the case gets to the Superior Court, where they can renew the motion. But they are essentially limited to making the same objections about evidence that they raised in the Municipal Court hearing.
Lawyers say that Simpson's attorneys probably knew they would lose the motion.
''I would be shocked if the defense thought they were going to win this,'' Collins said. But he said the ruling could help persuade Simpson's lawyers to shift their defense from a ''whodunit'' to a ''why did it happen?''
Los Angeles Times
July 13, 1994, Wednesday, Home Edition
SECTION: Part A; Page 1; Column 5; Metro Desk
LENGTH: 1334 words
HEADLINE: SIMPSON ATTORNEYS DRAFT MOTIONS TO CHALLENGE CASE
BYLINE: By JIM NEWTON and ANDREA FORD, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Attorneys for O.J. Simpson already have begun preparing a battery of motions in an attempt to undermine the prosecution case against the superstar and to bolster his contention of innocence, Simpson's lead lawyer said in an interview Tuesday.
"We are only going to file motions that are legally supportable and that support O.J.'s innocence," said Robert L. Shapiro, the Los Angeles lawyer who heads Simpson's high-profile legal team. "We are not going to file anything frivolous."
Among the motions being drafted, Shapiro said, is one to dismiss the case based on a lack of prosecution evidence presented during the preliminary hearing directly linking Simpson to the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman.
At the same time, Shapiro said, defense attorneys will introduce a motion contesting evidence obtained during a warrantless search of Simpson's home and another to challenge evidence seized under a subsequent search warrant. In addition, a number of so-called in limine motions seeking to limit evidence or testimony in the case probably will be offered, he said.
Those are only a few of the challenges being mounted to the prosecution case, Shapiro said, adding that he and other Simpson attorneys spent most of Monday and Tuesday drafting motions and sharing them with their client during the limited visitation hours at the Men's Central Jail. Despite the extensive motions envisioned, Shapiro is pressing for an early trial -- perhaps as soon as late September.
As Simpson's lawyers launch the next phase of their assault on the prosecution case, investigators continue to sift through evidence and chase down leads.
On Tuesday, detectives presented to the district attorney's office the results of the Police Department's investigation of Al Cowlings, who came to his former teammate's aid on the day Simpson failed to surrender to police as promised. The police file details evidence so that prosecutors can decide whether criminal charges are warranted, officials said.
Meanwhile, detectives and prosecutors continued to pursue their principal target. Detective Tom Lange, one of two lead investigators in the Simpson case, traveled to the Men's Central Jail on Tuesday to collect a hair sample from the athlete-turned-actor. Simpson's hairs will be compared to strands recovered from a blue knit cap found at the Brentwood murder scene.
In addition, law enforcement sources said Tuesday that prosecutors have met for the first time with a witness who said she saw a car resembling Simpson's near the scene of the crime on the night the murders took place.
That witness, a young woman who was jogging in the neighborhood shortly before the killings, met with homicide detectives last month. In an interview with The Times the same day, she said she could not see anyone inside the car but that the vehicle looked like Simpson's white Ford Bronco. She said the car arrived between 9:45 p.m. and 10:10 p.m. and parked near Nicole Simpson's home.
The jogger, who said she stopped circling the block about 10:10 p.m., did not witness the killings. One prosecution witness at the preliminary hearing told of hearing a dog bark about 10:15 p.m. to 10:20 p.m., while another said he found Nicole Simpson's dog, its paws bloody, wandering nearby shortly after 10:30 p.m.
Nevertheless, the jogger's description of the car near the murder scene could bolster the prosecution's attempts to undermine Simpson's alibi and show that he was in the vicinity when the crimes were committed. Simpson's lawyers have said he was at home waiting for a limousine to take him to the airport when Goldman and Nicole Simpson were killed, but the limousine driver testified during the preliminary hearing that Simpson did not answer his door until just after 11 p.m.
When Simpson did answer the door, he apologized for having overslept, the driver said.
Although authorities continue to interview witnesses and await test results to determine the source of blood samples found at the scene of the crime and at Simpson's Brentwood estate, the next public announcement is likely to be the decision on whether to prosecute Cowlings, who was booked last month on suspicion of aiding a fugitive.
If convicted of harboring or concealing a person wanted for committing a felony, Cowlings could face a year in prison and a fine of $5,000. His lawyer, Donald Re, has said Cowlings was not attempting to help Simpson flee, but rather was trying to keep him from committing suicide.
Police sources said Tuesday that they doubted whether a case would be filed, in part because of Cowlings' public role in bringing Simpson home, where both men were arrested after a breathtaking standoff in the driveway as helicopters hovered overhead and a crowd gathered outside the gates.
Officers at the scene of Simpson's surrender said Cowlings interfered with their efforts to negotiate with the ex-athlete, and Cowlings was arrested along with Simpson. But those same officers also credited Cowlings with coming to their aid when Simpson's cellular telephone battery died and they needed to deliver a new phone to him.
At their request, Cowlings delivered the new phone. That saved officers from having to expose themselves to Simpson, who had a loaded pistol.
Given those and other circumstances, legal experts generally agreed that a case against Cowlings would be problematic.
"The question for prosecutors is: 'Could you ever convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he was helping Simpson flee?' " said Myrna Raeder, a law professor at Southwestern University School of Law. "It would be a difficult case for the prosecution."
What's more, experts said, prosecuting Cowlings could complicate the case against Simpson. A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office said Simpson prosecutors Marcia Clark and William Hodgman were being consulted for their opinions about whether to proceed against Cowlings.
"They shouldn't prosecute Cowlings," Danny Davis, a leading defense attorney in Los Angeles, said of prosecutors. "It's a briar trap that Brer Rabbit has laid for the district attorney."
For one thing, experienced lawyers said, Cowlings could try to call Simpson to testify on his behalf, a move that might offer Simpson a platform to tell his story of failing to surrender to police without facing questions about his alleged role in the murders of Nicole Simpson and Goldman.
If called to testify, Simpson could choose to take the stand, or, far more likely, would invoke his right against self-incrimination.
"There are too many land mines for (Simpson) to step on," defense attorney Michael Yamaki said of the possibility of Simpson testifying in Cowlings' case. "Even the most innocent statement can be misinterpreted."
Even without Simpson taking the stand, however, the Cowlings case would almost certainly feature testimony -- either from him or from other occupants of the house in the hours before Cowlings and Simpson disappeared -- about Simpson's state of mind.
Assuming that Cowlings or other witnesses in his case testified that Simpson was distraught or bereft over the death of his ex-wife, that testimony could help Simpson at his own trial, particularly if those witnesses indicated that Simpson was not attempting to flee when he left the house that day.
There is yet another consideration in prosecuting Cowlings, legal experts said. If prosecutors bring a case against Cowlings and lose -- a possibility made more real by the fact that Cowlings' attorney, Re, is among Los Angeles' most admired defense lawyers -- it could create a public perception of weakness in the Simpson case.
"Cowlings is a shoe-in for a sympathetic acquittal," Davis said. "And that could become a harbinger of defeat for the district attorney's case against O.J. Simpson."
Cowlings is scheduled to appear in court Friday. A decision on whether the district attorney's office will prosecute him could be announced before then.
GRAPHIC: Photo, "We are not going to file anything frivolous," says Robert L. Shapiro, the lawyer heading O.J. Simpson's defense team, shown in file photo. LARRY DAVIS / Los Angeles Times