NV. vs. Simpson – Fromong Returns
Posted by thedarwinexception on September 16, 2008
Day two of testimony in the OJ Simpson sequel trial, AKA “If California Can’t Lock you up – we will” – got off to a roaring start with the return of Bruce Fromong, the first witness from yesterday who seemed to have a heart attack on the stand when Gil Grasso for the defense started asking him about the last time he was laid up in the hospital and gave an interview to CNN from his sick bed.
Grasso resumed his cross examination with a bunch of innocuous questions about how many times the witness had met with the prosecution, how many times total, how many times since the preliminary hearing, how many times since this trial began, and how many times since the fucking moon was blue. I always find these questions redundant, because you know that the witness has met with the prosecution – you know they go over their testimony, and you know that the prosecution sys “tell the truth, don’t offer more than what is asked” (something Fromong could have been coached a few more times on), and you know that the defense wants the jury to think “Oh my God – the witness has had super sekkkrit meetings with the DA! There must be something hinky going on!” and that’s so not what “meeting with the prosecution” means.
Grasso then asks the witness if he had ever mentioned to the prosecution, in any of his “two or three” meetings admitted to, if he had ever mentioned that he suddenly remembered hearing someone say “Put the Gun Down?”
Now, the reason that both sides are latching onto this new memory of Fromong’s, that he heard someone say “Put the Gun Down!” is that the prosecution is going to use this utterance to refute the defense’s contention that there wasn’t a gun in that room – and if there was a gun, OJ never saw it or even knew that anyone had a gun – drawn or otherwise. OJ has said all along – even in an audio taped conversation after the incident with Tom Riccio – that “Hey man, there weren’t any guns in the room! Why is the media saying there were guns? Did you tell anyone there were guns?” Having someone shout out “Put the gun down!” while the incident was occurring would be proof that OJ knew there were guns there.
So the prosecution wants this witness to recall this little piece of trivia, and wants the jury to think it happened, and the defense wants to say “Dude, you’ve given three statements, and testified at a preliminary hearing – and this was NEVER mentioned!” And wants the jury to see it as a “convenient recollection”.
So Grasso hammers at this for a while, asking the witness when he recalled it, why he recalled it, and points out several times that there is an audiotape of the entire incident, and a transcript of that audio tape, and nowhere can you hear or read “Put the gun down.” The witness counters this by saying “Well, when it was said, I was on the phone and the person on the other end of the phone heard it, too – in fact, she was the one who reminded me of it.”
Grasso seizes on this information to remind the witness that his prior testimony was that when the men burst into the room one of them yelled “put the phone down!” and wonders if maybe that’s what the person on the other end of the phone could have heard and misinterpreted as “put the gun down”. The witness doesn’t agree – and insists he heard “Put the gun down!” But what Grasso says does make sense.
Grasso then gets into the whole “What Riccio thought about the items” issue – asking the witness again about Riccio’s comment upon seeing the haul in Fromong’s car of “Is that all there is”. Grasso wants to make clear to the jury that OJ thought, through Beardsley and Riccio, that there were to be thousands and thousands of items at the “deal” – that this is why he brought along all those burly guys – not for intimidation of the sellers, but as mules to help carry the things to the car. Grasso gets the witness to admit that, yeah, Riccio did seem disappointed, and Grasso also brings out that on the audiotape of the conversation, Riccio can be heard asking repeatedly “Do you have more things? Is there more of OJ’s personal stuff? Are there family photos?”
Then Grasso gets into a whole hour long exchange with Fromong about “but you said this before….” and it’s one of those long, drawn out exchanges that really, really isn’t worth the payoff. It’s all about whether Fromong said there were 4 black men and OJ or 5 black men and OJ. And I have to wonder if the jury finds this as tedious as I do – because let’s face it, this was a small room. And whether or not some guy entered with a gun drawn, you have to imagine that in a small hotel room, with that many people all coming into the room at one time, you know, you just aren’t going to stop and take a fucking head count. I don’t think that impeaching the witness on this one issue is going to like prove the guy a compulsive liar. Maybe it would prove he didn’t look around the room as carefully as he would like everyone to believe. Maybe it would prove that he can’t count – maybe it would even prove he couldn’t see everyone beyond the one guy who rushed in and got in his face. But whether he said there was 4 guys plus OJ or 5 guys plus OJ or 1,203 guys plus OJ,, does it really matter? After 20 minutes of this crap, I got bored and started wondering when the lunch break was coming.
But, they finally get past this crap and the witness agrees that Walter Alexander didn’t ‘wave the gun around”, by his definition of “waving”, and after reading a bunch of different interviews, a bunch of different statements and a bunch of different preliminary hearing testimony pages, the jury is shown that at any given time this witness has placed the gunman at the front of the room, the middle of the room and at the back of the room. Somewhere near OJ – but not near OJ. But, again, it was a small room, the only way you could swing a cat in the damned place was to bash the cat’s head against the wall a couple times a revolution, so, I think if you were *in* that room, you were probably relatively “next to OJ.”
The only good thing (and exciting thing) about the entire morning’s cross examination and testimony was when the lawyers started all standing and objecting and making talking objections and the judge (who seems to have about as much patience as I do – which is relatively little) actually raised her voice and told the lawyers “This case will not turn into a free for all as it could with a judge who was not in control!” I think she meant it, too.
Grasso then asked the witness to search his memory and the transcript of the Riccio tape of the incident to try and determine if it wasn’t actually Walter Alexander who took Fromong’s phone on the way out instead of OJ, as the witness seems to think it was. This is based on the fact that as Alexander left the room he was asking the witness “what’s it under” – which David Roger took to mean “What’s the room number under” – as in “who’s name” and Grasso was taking to mean “what’s Mike Gilbert’s phone number under in the phone?” I’m thinking it was the former, not the latter.
Grasso then asks the witness about OJ’s love of Joe Montana and Pete Rose – and whether or not the witness knew if OJ was so attached to these has been’s – great athletes – that he would actually go into a hotel room to steal memorabilia of theirs. The witness conceded that no, this probably wasn’t the case, and also conceded that this was probably not the stuff OJ was referring to when OJ was yelling “This is my shit!”
Grasso then gets right to the nitty gritty of this witness and asks him how badly he wants to profit from this case – seeing’s how he already started hawking his crap on eBay as “EXACTLY THE SAME AS WHAT OJ STOLE FROM ME IN LAS VEGAS!” The witness insists that he has no financial interest in the case at all – and would never profit from his terrible, gut wrenching experience – except for the part on the tape where he says “This isn’t fucking over! This is NOT fucking over! I called Inside Edition and I’ll have them down here for us tomorrow – I told them I want big bucks!”
The witness insists he didn’t call them for the money – he called them because the story was “news”. I guess he doesn’t want the money – he just wants a job at CNN as some roving news detector.
Ahhhh….now we get Mr. Lucherini.
Poor Mr. Stuart – first he’s stuck smack dab in the middle of the biggest case Las Vegas has seen since Ted Binion chased the dragon, now he’s also stuck with Mr “I don’t have a point I just want to be on TV longer” Lucherini.
This guy is almost as painful to watch as the dentistry scene in Marathon Man. He fumbles around like he really *wants* to get somewhere – but his jokes have absolutely no punch line. He sets the witness up for 15 fucking minutes asking him about the drugs he took on the day of the incident – the witness says “I took 10 milligrams of oxycontin – I’m prescribed 20, but I generally only take 10” then Lucherini asks about the interview with the police, and how the interrogating officer asked the witness what drugs he was on that day and makes the witness read the transcript to “refresh his memory”, and then asks “OK, did that refresh your memory?” The witness says “Ummm. yes…..” Lucherinie says “OK, what did you tell the interrogating officer?” The witness responds “I told him I took 10 milligrams of oxycontin.” And you’re just waiting for Lucherini to say “AHA!!!”
Then he goes into this long rambling bullshit about “But the officer asked you *another* question, didn’t he, Mr. Fromong. The officer asked you if you were taking ILLEGAL drugs – drugs that were NOT prescribed to you, didn’t he Mr. Fromong?? And what did you TELL that officer Mr. Fromong, when he asked you this, what did you SAY? I invite you to refresh your memory, sir, by reading this to yourself, and then I’d like you to tell this jury what your answer was to this officer’s question. Thank you sir.” So we all wait while Fromong refreshes his memory – and then Fromong looks at the jury and says “I told the officer ‘Hell no I wasn’t on anything illegal.” And Lucherini walks away looking very self satisfied.
Like, what the fuck? It’s like Lucherini has some joke transcript that says “Witness responded he was on heroin and Jack Daniels”. I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. If this was my lawyer, I’d fire his fucking ass and throw myself on the mercy of the court.
The only relevant fact – well, relevant to his client anyway – that Lucherini managed to elicit was that Fromong didn’t see Stuart actually pick up any of the lithos or footballs. And I’m still not quite sure if that’s because Stuart *didn’t* pick up any of the footballs or lithos or if it was because Stuart wasn’t in his line of sight so Fromong could actually *see* if he picked any of them up. But Stuart needs all the help he can get, so let’s go with the former.
On re-direct David Roger asks Fromong about the whole “I called Inside Edition and I told them they would have to pay the big bucks” part of the tape that Grasso had played. Roger plays the other part – the part leading into that, which has Fromong saying “He’s going to put a gun in MY face? In MY face? I stood up for that mother fucker when he was in jail, I stood up for him in the press, I stood up for him on the stand, I set up offshore accounts for him – and he puts a gun in my face?” I don’t know if this helps OJ or helps Fromong – but I’m thinking it helps Fred Goldman! Offshore accounts? I’m thinking maybe old Fred ought to suddenly get an interest in Joe Montana or Pete Rose and set up a meeting with Mr. Fromong.
Roger also gets the witness to attest to the fact that the value of the property that was taken that night – not the “personal mementos”, but the other shit, the shit that was Fromong’s, was around 100K. Which you KNOW I’m not believing. 100K? For a bunch of baseballs laser signed by Pete Rose and some tacky Joe Montana lithographs? Yeah, right.
Roger also goes back to the whole conversation that Fromong once sat in on between OJ, himself and Mike Gilbert, the one where OJ and Gilbert were laughing about the fact that OJ and Gilbert had secreted a lot of stuff out of the Rockingham mansion before the sheriff’s got there – and they were saying that the stuff would never be found, that it “no longer existed”. Roger made the salient point that if this was “personal stuff”, it wouldn’t have been subjected to the court order of turnover, anyway, and that he wouldn’t have had to worry about Goldman seizing pictures of his dead mother or his children.
Then we get into the whole re-cross, and like me, Grasso doesn’t believe this crap is worth 100K. He points out that in the audiotape, when he is conversing with Riccio down by the truck, he tells Riccio that he can have the Montana lithos for $65. And Grasso also points out that this deal was going to be split three ways – so actually, Fromong would have ended up with like $20 for each of the lithos. And see? I knew it. 100K my ass.
Grasso also asks the witness if he remembers in his CNN interview saying that “If OJ had just asked me for the stuff, I would have given it to him.” And now I’m a little worried, because we are on re-cross, which has to mean we are almost done with this guy, and here Grasso is tempting fate again by reminding him of that CNN interview he gave from his hospital bed. Yesterday when he brought this subject up – the witness left in an ambulance.
But old Fromong soldiers through it and seems offended that Grasso is implying that he would have given anybody anything. He says “I didn’t say I would *GIVE* him the stuff back – I said we could have come to an arrangement – we could have worked it out – you know, he could have signed stuff for me or something.” Although he does admit that he said he thought that the stuff should have gone back to the family – he says “I think OJ’s kids should have this stuff.” God knows what he wants Arnelle and Sydney to sign.
Interestingly enough, when the lawyers are done with the witness, the jury has questions! Hopefully as we go along, the questions will keep coming and we’ll be able to get a glimpse into where their heads are at. It would have been really interesting to have jury questions in the Spector trial, don’t’ you think?
So, the jury asks two questions – both of which are lame –
1. When you don’t take your medicine, what happens? Do you experience nausea, vomiting, tremors, shakes, sweating, irritability? Answer: Not immediately, it would take a couple of days for any effects to show up – and I don’t know what those effect would be since I’ve never skipped my medicine for two days.
2. Who were you on the phone with when the people came into the room? Christine Ludimacher (Mike Gilbert’s “mistress”).
The next two witnesses, Mr. Schula (like the football guy) and Allan Morris, both are security personnel from the Palms and Palace Station Hotels, respectively, who are there only to authenticate the video and diagrams of the layouts of the hotels and pool areas where many of the scenes of the incidents took place. They both testify about the security set ups at their hotels, the layouts of the hotels (complete with diagrams), and we get to see the video of the participants – from the porte cochere (NEW WORD ALERT: a porte cochere is a fancy word for “covered driveway”) to the front desk, to the hallway to the courtyard rooms, and that yeah, these are the tapes they turned over to the police, these are the cameras used, these are the digital ones, these are the analog ones, these are the PTZ cameras (NEW WORD ALERT: PTZ camera means a Point, tilt, zoom camera – it can be moved by the monitoring employees with a little joystick).
Grasso, on cross, does elicit from both witnesses that if anything “fishy” were happening while the defendants were being taped, someone would have noticed and security would have been called, the inference being that since security wasn’t called, nothing fishy must have been going on – oh, and since “fishy” would have included someone walking in with a gun on their waistband, no one must have seen that, either.
No questions from the jury, since, really, what are you going to ask these guys?
Next up is Jason Abramowitz, a really geeky looking guy who works for the FBI. He is a forensic examiner/electrical engineer for the FBI and he’s the one who downloaded the recording device that belonged to Tom Riccio. He testifies that he got a call from the FBI in Las Vegas asking him to download and authenticate the recording device, which he did. He found 7 separate recordings and two that were deleted. He downloaded them all and authenticated that the device and the recordings weren’t tampered with.
Although the FBI – Las Vegas division asked for the tapes to be enhanced – this guy didn’t do that – he just downloaded the files for them to be enhanced.
Bryson for the defense on cross asks the witness if he always testifies for the prosecution, which, of course, the witness always does because he like works for the fucking FBI. How many private citizens can go to the FBI and ask them to testify for them? Then Bryson asks the witness how many files the device will actually hold, and the witness says he doesn’t know the capacity (and of course, I think that’s going to partially be a product of how large the recordings are – I mean, think of it like your hard drive. You could theoretically have 20 million 1 kb files or you could have 1 20 million kb file, right?) Bryson, though, takes this to mean that the recording device could have had a whole bunch of deleted files and this witness just wouldn’t know that because he didn’t recover them. But, since Tom Riccio said “I made two test recordings and then deleted them” and this witness found two deleted files, it’s safe to assume that that’s all there were.
Bryson seemed to be trying to imply that someone “messed with” the files – he asked about the capability of uploading files to the device and how easy or hard that would be. And I’m not really sure where he is going with this, or what the defense is eventually going to try to prove with regards to the audio tapes, since, essentially, they do help the defense as much as they do the prosecution. But, I guess time will tell on that one.
The jury has questions!
1. Did you contact the manufacturer to see if they had a proven process for restoring deleted files. Answer: No.
2. You said if you had a line-in that it would be possible to upload files – what would you need to do that? Answer: Basically a cable and another recording device.
The next witness is Ken Maar – the guy who actually took delivery of the files that Jason Abramowitz downloaded. Maar is the one who did the actual enhancement of the files.
This witness is not live – but the jury is being shown his earlier deposition on tape. He is “not available” to be at the trial live. He begins his testimony, but the audio sucks and the jury can’t hear his answers, so the tape is stopped, they cue it up again in a different format and start again. He is basically just beginning his testimony about this particular case after giving his background (he was in the military and then worked for the FBI and still works at the FBI) when court is called for the day.
To Sum It Up: Mr. Stuart needs to change his plea to insanity – because he was crazy to hire Lucherini; 2 new words: PTZ Camera and Porte Cochere; Despite what you see in the movies, FBI guys sometimes are geeky looking; And Judge Glass will kick your ass if you piss her off.