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Simpson attorneys push contaminated evidence theory

Gerdes December 12, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Anne McDermott

SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- Attorneys defending O.J. Simpson against a wrongful-death civil suit got key support for an important part of their case Thursday, when a DNA expert gave his opinion of procedures at the Los Angeles police crime lab.

The lab was responsible for collecting and processing evidence against Simpson. According to John Gerdes, there is "an unacceptable risk of cross-contamination" at the lab.

Simpson civil trial transcripts

The defense played a videotape, prepared by prosecutors during the criminal trial, showing criminalist Andrea Mazzola demonstrating how blood drops were collected. Gerdes pointed out many instances when contamination could have occurred, including one in which Mazzola did not change her gloves between collection of two samples.

As CNN legal analyst Greta Van Susteren said, "She did the kinds of things that risks contamination of evidence, and that's what the defense wants to do -- they want the jury to think that this evidence is contaminated."

icon (213K/20 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Gerdes went on to say that the outside labs that did the actual DNA testing were pretty good. But his clear implication was that the material they had to work with was already contaminated when they got it.

Simpson

But the plaintiffs' lawyers got Gerdes to admit that he has testified about 35 times in criminal trials, always testifying for the defense, and always testifying as to the unreliability of DNA tests.

Also under questioning by the plaintiffs' attorneys, Gerdes agreed that most of the more discriminating DNA test results, including one showing Simpson's blood at the crime scene, showed no sign of contamination.

The plaintiffs -- the families of murder victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman -- are suing Simpson, claiming he caused their deaths.

Among the other defense witnesses Thursday were two LAPD detectives. LAPD Detective Kelly Mulldorfer was asked about her search of Simpson's Ford Bronco in July.

Mulldorfer testified that in July 1994 she looked in the side door pockets, the console area and perhaps the glove box in her search for credit card receipts.

"When you were looking at the console did you see blood?" defense lawyer Daniel Leonard asked.

"I don't remember if I did or I didn't," Mulldorfer answered. Blood samples were collected from the Bronco in August.

Mulldorfer

Later, outside the courtroom, Mulldorfer echoed what she'd said on the stand, which was, she couldn't say if there was blood in the Bronco or not. "It really wasn't within the scope of my investigation to see if there was blood in the Bronco," she told reporters.

LAPD Lt. Frank Spangler was the other officer who testified Thursday. He was asked about former Detective Mark Fuhrman's presence at the crime scene. Was he wearing a jacket? Yes, at one point he was, Spangler said. The defense wants to show Fuhrman could have hidden a bloody glove from the crime scene in his jacket, then planted it at Simpson's estate.

Fuhrman

But Spangler also said Fuhrman was not wearing the jacket in the last couple of hours he spent at the crime scene, before heading off to Simpson's place.

On Friday attorneys from both sides will continue to wrangle over which portions of videotaped testimony of forensic expert Dr. Henry Lee can be shown to the jury. That videotape is expected to be viewed in court Monday.

 
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