Simpson civil trial faces moment of truth


THE JURY was preparing to consider its verdict in O.J. Simpson's civil trial yesterday. The former football and film star's defence lawyers had claimed in their closing addresses that police fabricated evidence and that the double murder could not have been committed by a single person.

Speaking in a near whisper during a two-hour speech, Mr Robert Baker said there was neither motive nor time for Simpson to slash his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, to death on June 12th %1994.

He urged jurors to reject appeals of sympathy for the victims' families and consider instead the plight of Simpson, who is being sued for potentially millions of dollars, though he was acquitted in 1995 of murder.

One of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Mr Daniel Petrocelli, retorted that the theory of fabricated evidence is "a fraud". "It's what guilty men do," he added. The evidence "shows that [O.J. Simpson] killed two people, that he is a murderer".

At least nine of the 12 jurors must agree to find Simpson responsible for the deaths and award damages to the victims' families. If found guilty, the former athlete will have to pay damages with interest to the families of the victims.

In his closing arguments, Mr Baker, Simpson's principal defence lawyer, said: "There had to be two assailants." The crime was also the work of "professionals", according to Mr Baker.

Taking up the theme that helped to get Simpson acquitted at the end of his criminal trial on October 3rd, 1995, Mr Baker said police were convinced right from the start that Simpson was guilty and did not have any qualms fabricating evidence against a man they considered a murderer.

The lawyer said two pieces of evidence found in Simpson's home - a glove and some blood-stained socks - were deliberately planted. Mr Baker blamed in particular one policeman he described as that "rogue Fuhrman".

Mark Fuhrman was convicted of committing perjury in his deposition after he claimed during the criminal trial he did not use the word "nigger" in 10 years.

Urging the jury to "render a verdict like was done before" - a reference to Simpson's acquittal - Mr Baker concluded: "You can't give Fred Goldman his son back but you can give back Mr Simpson his life... and give Justin and Sydney [Simpson's two children with Nicole Brown] their dad back."