The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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NV. vs Simpson – Science Guys and Godfathers

Posted by thedarwinexception on September 18, 2008

 

So court starts out today with arguing – which is typical. This morning they are arguing about whether or not the defense has the right to question the capabilities of police officers. Mr. Owens for the prosecution points out that when the defense starts questioning the capabilities of Detective Caldwell, it opens up the door to all kinds of hearsay when the prosecution tries to rehabilitate him. 

Galanter looks amazed and says “What? I can’t challenge Detective Caldwell?” 

Judge Glass admonishes him with a curt “Within the rules, sir.” 

So, Galanter’s cross continues after that little exchange. 

And a long and unproductive cross it turns out to be. 

Galanter is trying very, very hard to get the detective to say – in any fashion – that he knew – from someone, anyone, that this was property stolen from OJ. The detective keeps trying to answer the question by saying  “It didn’t matter to me if it was stolen – ownership is not an element of robbery”. And every time Galanter asks the question, Owens objects, and every time Caldwell starts answering with “Ownership isn’t an element of the crime”, Galanter cuts him off and moves to strike the answer. 

Galanter tries to make an end run around the Detective by then asking him (over and over) what the Detective did to try to determine who actually owned the property – Galanter wants to know if the detective got receipts from Beardsley and/or Fromong to show that they were the rightful owners, or if the detective got cancelled checks, and it’s all rather silly because, you know, when you call the cops and say “I wuz robbed!” they don’t first ask you “Oh, someone took your television? Do you have a receipt for that?” Generally they’ll take your statement first and maybe a description of what the people looked like who stole it, and if you know who the suspects are, the police may even go and question the people – but the police don’t ask you to prove you owned the items before they investigate your complaint that someone took them from you.

When Detective Caldwell answers that, no, on that night he didn’t ask the alleged victims for receipts, or cancelled checks, nor did he run a background check on the victims, Galanter tries to imply that Caldwell just ignored the information that Riccio had given him – that this was a recovery of stolen property, and the Detective again answers with “Ownership isn’t an element of robbery.” Which just starts the whole objecting thing all over again.  

Then Caldwell gets a little cagey himself and starts to answer Galanter’s endless “this was stolen from OJ” thing by pointing out rather sneakily that the “personal property” wasn’t even there -t he pictures of the dead parents, the pictures of the kids. Caldwell says that Riccio had told him in his statement that there was supposed to be personal property brought to the room that was never actually brought to the room. 

So then Galanter has to go again tot he Hoover picture and ask the detective if *that* item was taken from the room? and that “one of a kind” Kodak certificate – was *that* taken from the room? Caldwell agrees that these items were taken, but the list Galanter shows him from Beardsley to Riccio of what was *supposed* to be in the room? Yeah, a lot of that stuff wasn’t even there.  

Galanter is trying very hard to elicit from this witness that it doesn’t matter if those items were there or not – that OJ *thought* they were going to be there – but, of course, this is objected to because this witness can’t testify to what OJ thought or didn’t think, even if, as Galanter is trying to argue to the judge, it shows OJ intent. And it won’t do Galanter any good, anyway, because Detective Caldwell has an intent of his own – to keep saying “Ownership is not an element of the crime.” 

Galanter then gets on to another subject – what the analysts and crime scene investigators said on the tape when they didn’t know they were being taped. Riccio’s tape recorded was left on the top of the armoire for a few days – and it was recording – even during the time when the CSI people were in there dusting for prints and analyzing the scene. 

Apparently some of them were laughing and joking and someone mentioned that “Well, they didn’t get him in California – we’ll get him now”. Some guy named Perkins was apparently quoting some guy named John when he said that. Galanter asks the officer if he knew that some people in the department were prejudging the case like that and if that affected his investigation. If course Caldwell says no, that didn’t affect his investigation. 

Galanter then asks about Riccio and TMZ, and asks if Caldwell was shocked or upset to know that one of his witnesses had made a lot of money from selling information in the case. Caldwell says he was shocked, yeah, but when he contacted Riccio – and Riccio’s partner – about the tape, they didn’t try to hide the fact that they had sold it and made no bones about it. 

Galanter then tries to paint OJ as “the cooperative witness” and says “Well, you know OJ called your department right after this happened” and Caldwell says “Well, not exactly – he called Riccio and Riccio said he was talking to the cops and put one of the officers on the phone with OJ – OJ didn’t exactly call us.” And Galanter tries to make that look like “Well, but OJ didn’t have your phone number or your partners phone number, so you know, how else would he get a hold of you? Like the LVPD isn’t like listed in the phone book or anything – OJ would just have to just keep calling Riccio until Riccio was standing there with a cop before he’d be able to speak with one. 

But Caldwell does admit that OJ left one message on his answering machine, and that when they finally did have a meeting with OJ at his Palms Hotel room, OJ didn’t try to run or beat anyone up or anything. 

Caldwell says again, though, that if it was anyone but OJ he would have been arrested immediately – instead they decided to gather more evidence first, and didn’t arrest OJ until the 16th. Galanter tries to put the best possible spin on that, as well, by pointing out that they had OJ’s cell phone number and they knew where he was staying, and that when they did arrest OJ  he was right where he should be – at his hotel room. I guess the implication in that is that he wasn’t like going down some Las Vegas freeway in a white bronco or anything. 

Thankfully Attorney Bryson for Mr. Stewart has no questions at this time – he would, though, like the witness to be subject to recall. Which is fine with the judge. 

On re-direct Mr. Owens asks Caldwell if Riccio showed him another tape recorder that he had – and if Riccio explained that he often made these recordings. Caldwell says yes, that Riccio explained that he did it for “Self preservation”, that in his business he often recorded the particulars of deals he was making. Caldwell then also explains that the FBI wasn’t the only place the LVPD turned to for help in enhancing the tapes – they also went to a Paul Ginsberg out of New Jersey – he also enhanced the tapes – only because the FBI said it would take months to get the enhancements back to them and they wanted to start working on the transcriptions. Mr. Gins berg said he could have it done in a week, so they hired him, as well, and then coordinated the transcriptions later form both enhancements when they had the FBI enhancements back. 

Owens then asks Caldwell about the Stewart arrest and search warrants – he asks Caldwell if Stewart turned himself in voluntarily, and Caldwell hesitates and says, well, yeah, it was voluntary only in the sense that they didn’t have to execute an arrest warrant, but it was after they had already served a search warrant on Stewart’s home and had an interview with Stewart where he learned of the tapes and video they had on him. They went to Lucherini’s office and Stewart surrendered there – after turning over all the stolen property that was in his possession. 

Owens then opens up the whole “it was OJ’s property” can of worms again and asks if Riccio ever said this was OJ’s property and Caldwell says no, that Riccio said there was other property that was supposed to be there and *that* was OJ’s personal property. 

Owens then asks if Caldwell ever asked Beardsley about these allegations and if he ever asked Beardsley if this was Fromong’s legally owned property and Caldwell says yes, that Beardsley said that OJ never made a stolen property police report on these items because he knew they weren’t stolen, he knew they had been sold legally from one of his former associates. 

Then Owens questions Caldwell about the whole “CSI laughing” incident. He asks if there were other things on the tape that the analysts had discussed, and Caldwell says yeah, that the analysts were concerned about being vilified like the analysts in California had been, and that on the tape you can hear them discussing the fact that they need to be overly thorough and that no matter what they do, they’ll still be questioned and criticized. 

Owens then passes the witness, and despite his earlier “I have no questions” stance, Bryson does now want to ask a couple of questions. Thankfully all he has Caldwell do is verify that Stewart turned himself in and turned over all the property he had – and did both voluntarily. 

And now the Jury has questions!

1. Would you say that you followed normal protocol in this case? Answer: Yes

2. Is it normal to do background checks on victims in cases? Answer: No

3. Do you normally ask for proof of ownership on items in a robbery” Answer: No. 

4. Was there any other reason besides celebrity that delayed the arrest of OJ? Answer: None

5. As lead detective in the case why weren’t you there when OJ was arrested? Answer: My daughter had a Church function I needed to attend. 

After jury questions, the attorney’s get to ask follow up questions. Of course, this gives them the opportunity to go back into the whole “ownership” issues because of jury question number three – and they try. They try so hard and object and argue with each other so much that the judge finally picks up her gavel and I’m not quite sure if she wants to bang it or throw it. 

Finally, to try and rope them in, the judge looks at the witness and says “Sir, did you do anything after September 13th to investigate the ownership issues in this case. Please answer yes or no.” The witness says “yes” and she tells the lawyers “That’s it – you’re done, sit down. You’ve beat this horse long enough.” 

The next witness up is Jessie Sams – she’s the crime scene analyst that processed room 1203. She took pictures of the vehicles, she took pictures of the interior of the room and she lifted a bunch of prints. She also impounded the bags and boxes that were left behind, as well as some DNA swabs she took. Oh – and the bedspread. She impounded that, too. 

Under cross she says that the bed was still made – there was no furniture broken, and there were no prescription bottles in the room. Also, on the tape she can be heard reading off a letter of authenticity that was left behind. It was a letter signed by Mike Gilbert saying that this football that was the subject of the letter was once in the personal collection of OJ Simpson and that it was given to Gilbert in 1990. 

Next witness up is David LeMaster – and this guy is cool. I wish he had been one of my professors in College, because he makes this shit interesting and fun. He speaks really clearly and easily and it’s like a whole “Fingerprint Analysis For Dummies” class right on the stand. He gives his background (making sure to emphasize that he’s certified, and that they don’t hand certifications out to just anyone). 

He then explains whorls, ridges and arches, he explains porous and non porous surfaces and he explains sweat and oils. And the difference between Patent prints – which are prints you can see, like a fingerprint left in blood, and latent prints, which are prints you can’t see. And that latent prints are “Chance prints”, because even if they are there – that doesn’t mean you can use them, because they could be smudged or incomplete or even complete but without enough identifying characteristics to make matching them to anything possible. 

After explaining all about fingerprint lifting and analysis in a way that even a 5th grader could understand and enjoy, he then gets down to the nitty gritty of what he did in this case – which wasn’t much. Come to find out  – none of the suspects prints were found anywhere in the room. Not Simpson’s, not Stewart’s, not even Alexander’s or McClinton’s or any of the other once co-defendant’s. The only place LeMaster found a relevant print was on some picture from another location of OJ’s. And that could have been left there years ago when he autographed it. He id find a bunch of Riccio’s prints in the room, and even Fromong’s and Beardsley’s – and a couple elimination prints from police officers. But none of OJ’s or his co-horts prints were there. So that whole thing was a bust. 

But I’m still glad he testified – because now he’s my new favorite fingerprint guy ever. 

Next up is the ringleader himself – Tom Riccio.

Owens begins the direct examination and it isn’t long before the judge gets impatient. Like Caldwell said earlier, Riccio likes to talk, and he likes to tell his story the way he likes to tell it – with lots of explanation and lots of detail. And that just doesn’t work in the courtroom, where the shortest answer possible is the preferred answer and volunteering information isn’t necessarily a good idea. The judge tells him like 3 times in the first 15 minutes of his testimony “Please just answer the question you are asked” after repeated objections from the defense of “non responsive, your honor.”

In a nutshell: Riccio says he is a resident of Los Angeles, and he often travels for his business. He comes to Las Vegas quite often,. In September 2007 he came to Las Vegas alone as a stopover on a flight from JFK in New York. His sole purpose in being in Las Vegas at the time was to help OJ recover his property. He was staying at the Palace Station Hotel. 

Riccio says he makes a living dealing and selling. He owned an auction house in Los Angeles called “Universal Rarities”, but sold out to his partner after this incident. The association with OJ was apparently “bad for business”. Riccio says that he had always heard “any publicity is good publicity” but says if OJ is involved, that’s not always true. 

Riccio then relates how he got involved in this whole mess and says it started last August when he was at a car show. Al Beardsley called him and left a message for Riccio to call him back, which he did. Riccio says he was surprised to hear from Beardsley, since they had not spoken in several years and had kind of left things on a bad note. Riccio felt that Beardsley had scammed him in an earlier deal involving OJ. Beardsley called Riccio in 2007 after seeing Riccio on TV regarding some Anna Nicole X-rated diaries Riccio’s auction house had been involved in selling. Beardsley told Riccio that he had some personal effects of OJ’s and would Riccio be interested in brokering a deal for them. 

Riccio said that immediately, because of his past dealings with Beardsley, he wondered what Beardsley’s motives were. He told Beardsley to call him back later and in the second call Beardsley blurted out that these were the real deal – that these items had been stolen from OJ’s trophy room. Beardsley knew that after their first deal fell apart that Riccio had actually met OJ and had subsequent dealings with OJ, so Beardsley asked Riccio “You don’t still have contact with OJ, do you?” And Riccio said “No, I haven’t talked to him in a few years.” Beardsley said “Well, don’t call him about this stuff.” Riccio told him “Oh, no, I won’t.” 

Owens then asked Riccio what he did. And Riccio said “I called OJ.”

Riccio says that he told OJ about this guy who said he had his personal things and right away OJ seemed to know what the items were and he was interested in getting them back, and they started discussing ways they could effect that. Over the next couple of weeks they talked about many different scenarios – meeting the sellers at the auctions house (which his partner nixes – he was more foresighted than Riccio and recognized that getting involved with OJ was probably a killer for business), having Entertainment Tonight surreptitiously film the exchange and getting the sale of “stolen property” on tape, and finally decided that a sting operation with a phony buyer was probably the best course of action. OJ asked Riccio if he could get lists of the items. Riccio got Beardsley to fax and mail Riccio lists of what he had.. 

Riccio suggested early on that they go to the police for help, but OJ said they wouldn’t help. OJ also said that they couldn’t do anything in California because of legal issues – transferring any of OJ’s property there would put them in violation of the turnover orders and the civil judgment. So it had to be somewhere else. 

Towards the end of August Riccio was scheduled to have a meeting with the FBI on another matter – his auction house had come into possession of some tapes of Anna Nicole Smith getting a boob job and the FBI wanted to know how Riccio had obtained the tape and who the doctor was. Riccio hadn’t wanted to meet with the FBI, but he told them he would under the condition that they answer a few questions for him about this OJ matter he was involved with. They agreed and he met with the FBI agents at Larry Birkhead’s lawyer’s office. Riccio explained to the FBI agents about the stolen property and Al Beardsley and that OJ wanted to recover the items. After he finished explaining it all they put him out of the room for 10 minutes or so, then told him they wouldn’t be interested because their were property rights questions with the civil judgment. Riccio told OJ that the FBI wasn’t interested in helping them, which didn’t surprise OJ. 

Riccio then called the local police in LA, and after being transferred from department to department, they ended up telling him to get a lawyer to recover the items, that it was a civil matter since the items were stolen by OJ’s manager. Riccio again relayed to OJ that the police weren’t going to help, either, and they figured they were on their own. 

Beardsley was getting anxious about getting the deal done, and now it was just a matter of picking a place and a time. During one of the phone calls Beardsley let it kind of slip that the items were in Vegas, even though he wouldn’t say who the seller was (OJ assumed it was Mike Gilbert – his old agent). OJ was going to be in Vegas for a wedding at the same time that Riccio was going to be flying back from NY where a stopover in Vegas would be a simple matter, so they decided that they would do it the weekend OJ would be in Vegas, and Riccio told Beardsley he had a buyer. . 

When Owens asks about Riccio’s motivations for getting involved, Riccio says  he had several – he liked OJ, he didn’t like Beardsley and he wanted OJ to sign 200 copies of the Goldman’s book “If I did It” so Riccio could sell them through his auction house. It was rather coincidental, too, that the book was supposed to be released on the very weekend they were all going to be in Vegas for this deal. 

When Riccio got to Vegas on the 12th he went around to several book stores looking to see if anyone had copies – no one did. He also went to Radio Shack and bought a tape recorder. He then went to his room at the Palace Station and set up a meeting with OJ who was already in town for the wedding, and set up a meeting for the next day at the Palms Hotel where he was staying. 

Riccio went to the Palms Hotel pool the next day to meet OJ – he had the recorder in his pocket. He was introduced to Charles Ehrlich, who OJ said was going to play the part of the buyer. OJ was very excited about getting his stuff back. 

Riccio goes through a description of everything that was discussed at the pool – how everything was going to go down, that both OJ’s lawyer Bill Singleton and OJ’s sister, who were there, both said not to do this, that it wasn’t going to end well, the thought of getting connecting rooms so they could have security in the room next door (because, says Riccio, Beardsley is criminally insane and he wasn’t sure what Beardsley would do), OJ said security wasn’t necessary because he would have “his boys” there. They discussed how this could all be a hoax, because Beardsley is also delusional, and they discussed how the sellers would never call police, since they knew the stuff was stolen. 

Owens then has Riccio identify his tape recorder, which Riccio does. Owens tries to get Riccio to verify the transcripts, as well, but Riccio says he can’t do that, since there are so many mistakes in it. Which does nothing to move things along, because now there’s another big flurry of objections to the transcripts, which leads to more arguing and Stewart makes another motion to sever, they all make objections to the transcripts, and the judge ends up denying all the motions and entering the transcripts as aides and the tapes as evidence, which is the same ruling she made yesterday. 

The lawyers and the judge then write up and perfect a special instruction the judge will read to the jury before any of the tapes are played saying in part “Transcripts have been prepared by the state for use as an aide – the parties haven’t agreed as to the identity of the people speaking or the contents of the transcripts – you have to be guided by the tapes, not the transcripts – you are not required to use the transcripts.”

Then tape number three is played for the jury. 

Transcript of tape 3 – recording_file_3-palms1

When the tape is complete Owens asks Riccio some more questions: 

He determines that Riccio had been moving around when the tape was being made – he was mostly at the bar but later moved to a cabana. At the end of the tape OJ left to go to his room. Riccio stayed at the pool area waiting for a friend who wanted to meet OJ. OJ told Riccio to bring the friend up where he got there. 

The female on the tape that shared the BLT with Riccio was OJ’s sister. 

Christy Prody is OJ’s girlfriend.

Riccio understood the turnover orders that OJ kept talking about to mean something about the Goldman’s civil judgment and the fact that they had rights to OJ’s property. 

Riccio also confirms that a lot of the names on the transcript are incorrect. 

The storage unit story on the tape was one that Beardsley had related to Riccio – Beardsley said that when OJ’s mother was alive she had a storage unit and that, like OJ, she didn’t pay her bills. When the storage unit went up for auction Beardsley paid for the unit and got possession of the contents, which included the personal photo albums. When Riccio told OJ that this was the story Beardsley told, OJ got quite pissed off and said the story was bullshit. 

Owens asks Riccio why the photo albums didn’t end up in the room that night and Riccio said that Beardsley said that was “another deal”. That they would complete this deal first and then they would set up another deal for those items. Riccio said he called Ehrlich after he saw that a lot of OJ’s personal things weren’t there with Fromong and Beardsley and told them they could call it off if they wanted to, but Ehrlich said No, they still wanted to go through with it. 

So at the end of this tape, Riccio said he was at the pool area waiting for his friend Lowell Katz to come and OJ was up in his room. When Lowell Katz came, Riccio brought him up to OJ’s room so Katz could meet OJ. Riccio had the recorder running again and got the details of the book deal on tape, as well as the arrival of Alexander and MCClinton to the room as he and Katz were leaving. He also recorded some of OJ (and his girlfriend’s) feelings about Mike Gilbert, when OJ related a strange story about how Gilbert set him up for a sex tape in a hotel with a strange girl, and how he offered a million dollars to OJ’s girlfriend if she would put a hidden camera in their bedroom when they had sex. 

The state then plays a portion of tape number 4 for the jury – from the beginning to the point when Riccio meets Prody in the hall. 

Transcript of tape number 4 – recording_file_4-ojs-room1

Owens then asks a few questions of the witness, including eliciting the testimony about the :”connecting rooms” and renting another room at the Palace Station and why that didn’t happen. Riccio says he doesn’t know why that didn’t happen, but about 1/2 hour after he left OJ’s room Charles Ehrlich called Riccio and said the deal would be happening in Riccio’s room. Ehrlich said the group of men would wait outside the room until Riccio called them in. 

Oh – and it wasn’t asked of the witness, but on the tape you can hear OJ listening to a TV show about some young girl and a sex tape. OJ identifies the girl as his goddaughter and says her father was a good friend of his – the girl is Kim Kardashian. Who knew? 

 

To Sum Up: OJ is bad for business; David LeMaster needs a kids show called “CSI Science Guy”; “Ownership is not an element of the crime.”; And OJ is not a very good godfather – at least, he hasn’t seen to the religious education of Kim Kardashian, from what I can tell.

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3 Responses to “NV. vs Simpson – Science Guys and Godfathers”

  1. JayDee said

    One of the issues the prosecution has alluded to, but hasn’t fleshed out yet, is that the property isn’t actually Simpson’s. He gave it to Gilbert to hide for him, then claimed he didn’t own it. At that point, one of two possibilities exist: either he legitimately transferred title to Gilbert, in which case he doesn’t own it, or the ‘gift’ was a sham, in which case title legally transferred to the Goldmans as a result of the turnover order. Some of the property was subsequently stored in a facility, then storage fees weren’t paid. At that point, once again, title would have transferred to the storage facility, then to Beardsley. So, it seems to me, the individual who has the weakest ownership claim is Simpson. I have a feeling that somewhere down the road the prosecution’s going to argue that the property wasn’t his.

  2. reasonable said

    Thanks Kim for making sense of this. I’m pretty much bed bound (waiting for spine uregery) ad altho I was determined not ever to get into a west coast trial again I got drawn into this. The Tru-Tv coverage is a mess and ends just when things get interesting. Then I try to watch it on HNN but they have that idiot Pam Hayes on–who knows less about NV law than I do so I have to turn it off before I break the TV. You’re info is a gift and a blessing. And you write it so on point and accurate.

  3. Caroline said

    What kind of a deal with the devil did Galanter make to have to represent OJ for eternity? Their relationship has lasted longer than any marriage/girfriend/football career Oj has had.

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