By Shelby Grad, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES—A prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial said this week that he believes defense attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. tampered with the famous “bloody glove” that was a key piece of evidence in the football star’s acquittal.
During the celebrated murder trial, Simpson tried on bloody gloves and held up his hands in front of the jury box to let everyone see the leather bunched up around his broad palms. That demonstration became a powerful symbol for the defense, summed up by Cochran: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Several jurors cited the too-tight gloves as a key reason for voting to acquit Simpson. But this week, Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors on the case, told Reuters news service and a law school audience that he believes Cochran manipulated the glove.
According to the news service:
On Thursday, during a panel discussion about the trial at Pace Law School in New York City, Darden, a member of the prosecution team, declared: “I think Johnnie tore the lining. There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.’s fingers couldn’t go all the way up into the glove.”
Darden said in a follow-up interview on Friday that he noticed that when Simpson was trying on a glove for the jury its structure appeared to have changed. “A bailiff told me the defense had it during the lunch hour.” He said he wasn’t specifically accusing anyone, adding: “It’s been my suspicion for a long time that the lining has been manipulated.”
The glove incident was seen as the pivotal moment in the 1995 trial.
At the time, Darden tried to explain how the glove would not fit Simpson by bringing in expert Richard Rubin, who “testified that moisture had caused the extra-large leather gloves to shrink nearly a full size and lose much of their elasticity,” according to a Los Angeles Times report. Rubin said “the gloves in their original condition would easily go onto the hand of someone of Mr. Simpson’s size.”
From The Times article:
He added that he tried an experiment after court Thursday: He put on a pair of latex liners like the one Simpson wore, and tried to put on his own gloves. Pulling them over his hands, he testified, was more difficult with the latex liners.
Darden then picked up a line of questioning he had ignored Thursday, asking Rubin about when, why and how much leather gloves shrink.
Wearing a cheery Snoopy tie and looking relaxed, Rubin testified that gloves can shrink up to 15 percent if they are drenched in moisture. Even if stretched, the crime scene gloves could never return to more than 92 percent of their original size, he said.
“These gloves,” Rubin added, “will never return to their original size and shape.”
Cochran died in 2005. But others who worked with the defense rejected Darden’s charges as a total fabrications.
“Having made the greatest legal blunder of the 20th century,” Alan Dershowitz told Rueters, “(Darden’s) trying to blame it on the dead man.”
So what is the background of the gloves? During the trial, prosecutors tried to show they actually belonged to murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson (who was killed along with Ron Goldman).
According to a Times report:
Bloomingdale’s buyer Brenda Vemich identified a charge-card receipt, signed by Nicole Brown, for the $77 purchase of two pairs of Aris Isotoner gloves.
She testified that the gloves Nicole Simpson bought on December 18, 1990, were called Aris Isotoner leather lights—the same expensive style, she said, as the gloves found at the crime scene and at Simpson’s estate.
But on cross-examination, Vemich acknowledged that she could not tell from the receipt what size or color gloves Nicole Simpson had purchased.