NV. vs. Simpson – The Defense Rests
Posted by thedarwinexception on October 1, 2008
So today was one of those court days where, just as you think everything is winding down, it gets wound right back up again. Today we were treated to tales of extortion, contract hits and witness tampering. And motions again for mistrials, motions to stay and deliberate misconduct by police officers (because what’s an OJ trial without deliberate misconduct by police officers?)
So we start the day outside the presence of the jury with the Defense talking tot he court about their next witness – Tom Scotto, the groom who brought everyone to Vegas for his wedding.
In the course of their discussions, the State lets fly a little tidbit – they want to be able to ask Scotto about an alleged hit he wanted to put out on their witness Walter Alexander.
The defense calls that an “prior bad act” and says it’s improper – but Galanter concedes that the state might have a “good faith basis” for the allegation, which is odd. But Galanter says that Scotto will deny that he ever put a contract out on anyone’s life, and the court says if he denies it – then that’s where the questioning will end. Roger gets up to say “Well, unless Stewart takes the stand…” Which pretty much ensures that Stewart won’t take the stand.
Tom Scotto takes the stand and through an agreement with Simpson’s attorneys, Stewart’s attorneys will question him first. So Chuck Jones gets up to do so.
Now, this is the most painful, horrendous, intolerable direct examination in the history of direct examinations. Mr. Jones may be a fine man – he may even be a fine attorney, but if I was Mr. Stewart, and I had written this guy a check to defend me, I’d be on the fucking phone during the first court break to put a stop payment on it. Mr. Jones is not helping his client in any fashion with his clumsy, ineffective, convoluted and repetitive questioning. He has less skill at questioning than most first year law students. And the judge has to continuously correct him and advise him how to ask a question that’s not leading – totally disrupting the flow and tenor of the questioning, and his point is totally and utterly lost in all this.
Jones’ point is that Scotto’s marriage license has a time stamp on it. Stewart took him to get that license, and then to the bakery for his wedding cake, and then to the florist for his flowers. So, since Scotto was with CJ at the time, CJ couldn’t have been at the poolside planning party for the incident. If Stewart wasn’t at the pool, he can’t be guilty of conspiracy, since it’s already been established that he wasn’t at any of the *other* meetings that discussed the plans for the incident.
Of course, in his questioning, Jones is trying to be the most generous with drive times, wait times and pick up and drop off times, to encompass the most “with Scotto” time that he can.
But he does all this so laboriously and without anchoring the testimony to anything else, the jury has to be wondering why Jones is taking the witness through his trip to Starbucks, and where the Starbucks was, and what they ordered, and how many people were at the Starbucks, and it’s all just painful.
Jones also asks Scotto about the “beautiful” party that Stewart threw for the bride and groom the night before their wedding, which was the night after the incident.
McClinton and Alexander, the two alleged gunman from the recovery effort the night before, were at this party, although OJ wasn’t.
Scotto says he had two conversations with McClinton and Alexander during that party, and from what he gets out of his mouth before someone objects tot eh questions, we know that one of the conversations was about money. But since Jones has absolutely no skill at questioning the witness, he manages to elicit almost no actual testimony from him. Seriously, all the guy has to ask is “WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?” or “WHAT DID ALEXANDER SAY TO YOU?” but he can’t do that – or doesn’t know enough to do that, and keeps asking these leading questions like “When he took you in the backyard…..” which gets an objection, and “Did he tell you….” which gets an objection, “why were they upset?”, which gets an objection, and finally he just gives up and hopes that Galanter gets into this, since Galanter, at least, has enough skill to get through a direct examination. Jones is a fucking disaster. Why he is on this team is just beyond me, I mean, I don’t like Bryson much, and Lucherini isn’t vying to be the next Johnnie Cochoran, but Bryson and Lucherini can surely handle these witnesses without Jones. What the hell is Jones doing here?
Scotto manages to get before the jury, over objections and without objection, that McClinton was doing the most talking, McClinton asked him for money, the amount of $50,000. Alexander was with McClinton at the time and they were upset. They wanted the money in case they got into trouble over all of this. They told Scotto there were no guns involved. They said stuff like “OJ has to call us – this thing is going bad, it’s all over the news – there were no guns involved, but we aren’t going to jail over this – we need the money or else we’re going to have to do what we have to do to get out of this.” Although they never said exactly what they were going to do with the money. Scotto says they were threatening him and everyone else in the case. McClinton said to Scotto – “Tom, you know me, but you don’t know me well – I’m a street nigger.”
Jones then plays the tape of the message that was left on Scotto’s answering machine by Walter Alexander in October.
Then the inept Jones sits adown and it’s Galanter’s turn with this witness for OJ.
They establish that Galanter knows Scotto, and that Scotto has known OJ for at least 8 years. They were very good friends, and before all this incident they would see each other most every day.
Scotto also knows Alexander and McClinton – he met them both in Vegas through OJ – they weren’t really friends, just someone he would see once in a while when he came to Vegas.
In June or July of 2007 Scotto became engaged and they planned on getting married in Vegas. They picked the date through determining when the Palms Hotel wasn’t booked. He asked OJ to be his best man right away. They flew out to Vegas together on the 12th. That evening there was really nothing going on, no parties or celebrations they were to attend. They had some last minute things to do in Vegas on the 13th, so he wasn’t at the Hotel for much of that day.
Scotto says he was aware that during that weekend OJ was planning on recovering some property that had been stolen from him in the past, and that OJ was talking to Riccio about this. Scotto says he never talked to Riccio, himself. But Scotto says that he was supposed to go to the hotel that night with OJ, but he had to beg off at the last minute because he still had some pre wedding things to take care of, and there was a big dinner planned that evening at Little Buddha, for everyone who was in the wedding party and their friends. Alexander brought McClinton to the party, and OJ was there – although Stewart wasn’t, because he was sick.
The next night they went to Stewart’s for the party he was giving. This was a party he was doing on his own – just a wedding gift to the bride and groom. About 9 or 9:30, Alexander and McClinton came to Scotto and asked him if they could talk privately to him. Scotto agreed and they all went out to the backyard. It was very dark There was a patio area with lights, and this is where Charles Cashmore was cooking. There was a big grassy area that was unlit and this is where the three of them went.
Scotto says they “started getting on me” right away – Alexander spoke first and he said “Look man, OJ needs to call us, things here are going really bad – this shit is all over the news and they are saying there are guns involved – and there were no guns – things are going bad.” Scotto says he told them that he was sure OJ would call them, that there wasn’t a problem. Then Alexander said that OJ got them involved in all of this, and he needed to call them. Scotto was quite surprised that they were so upset and pissed off – Scotto thought these were OJ’s friends and he didn’t understand why they were complaining. Then McClinton said the whole “I’m a street nigger” thing and that he would “shoot everybody up” Scotto thought this was just crazy, and since OJ was his good friend he didn’t like all this negative talk about OJ.
Then Alexander and McClinton told Scotto that they had a tape from the evening before of OJ talking about the incident, and at that point Scotto says he just walked away, because this was all getting to be too much for him, with the talk of tapes and shootings and everything else.
About an hour later McClinton and Alexander called Scotto into the backyard again. Scotto says he went because he thought they might be calmed down at this point.
They went to the same grassy area and this time McClinton did most of the talking. He said “Look, this thing is going bad and somebody was going to jail, and it wasn’t going to be them.” McClinton said that they were going to do whatever they had to do to make sure it *wasn’t* them, and that they needed $50K. Scotto says that he was trying to tell them “Look, you said there were no guns, you didn’t do anything wrong, you just need to go to the police and talk to them – you have nothing to hide.” Scotto says he was also thinking that these were supposed to be OJ’s friends, and here they were trying to extort money from OJ.
Galanter asks what gave Scotto the impression that they were trying to extort money and Scotto says he came away with the impression that if these guys didn’t get $50K that they were going to lie to get themselves out of trouble. Scotto says he felt threatened – he knew that McClinton was a thug and McClinton had said he was a “Street nigger” and Scotto really didn’t want this guy as an enemy. But Scotto never paid him the money, and as far as he knows, OJ never did either.
Galanter then asks about the voice mail message Scotto received from Alexander, which basically said the same thing – that if he got money, he wouldn’t lie. Scotto had had a phone conversation with Alexander right after he got back from his honeymoon. Alexander had said to him then that he was “happy” he was the first one picked up – that he had the opportunity to make the best deal, but that he could “slant” his testimony either way. Scotto says that Alexander repeated some of these things in the voice mail message he left in early October – that basically his testimony was for sale. Scotto says he turned the tape over to the police because this was the second time they had tried to extort money from him and he wanted it to stop.
Mr. Roger then gets up to cross, and basically brings out that although Scotto wanted this to stop and wanted to help his friend OJ and wanted to make sure Law Enforcement knew about this tape, that he never actually told police about the conversation that allegedly took place at Stewart’s party. Scotto never told them about it in his first call to Las Vegas Metro, never told them about it when Caldwell called him back and taped the message, never told them about it in a note or letter when Scotto mailed the original tape to the police, and never told them about it at the preliminary hearing when Caldwell asked if he would make a statement. He also never talked about this meeting when he spoke to Stewart’s investigators and gave them a formal interview.
Scotto says he never had an opportunity -t hat the police were supposed to call him back for a formal statement, but they never did – but Roger’s point is well taken – he could have told the police *informally*.
Roger then tries to shake that timeline a little bit -the one where Stewart is with him all afternoon. Roger points out that he gave different times to the investigators – the pick up time was earlier, the drop off time was earlier, and the wait in line at the marriage license bureau was 15 minutes not 30 minutes. Scotto says all his times are approximations.
Roger then shows that Scotto is a loyal friend. In fact, even though he knows Charles Ehrlich well, when investigators showed u at his door and showed him pictures of Ehrlich to try and identify him after the incident, Scotto said he didn’t know who that man was. Roger also points out that Stewart asked Scotto for money, too,.
Roger then asks the one question everyone has been waiting for – he asks Scotto if it’s true that he told Stewart that he was going to take the money he would have given him for lawyer’s fees and put out a hot on Alexander – that he said “that fuck doesn’t deserve to live”. Scotto says he absolutely did not say that.
Then Jones (god help us) gets up to re-direct and he basically asks just one question – if Scotto felt threatened when Stewart asked him for money, and Scotto says no. Jones also asks how much he thinks that wedding party cost that Stewart threw and Scotto says it had to be at least $5K, and no, he didn’t reimburse Stewart for that.
Galanter, on re-direct, asks only when Scotto turned the tape over and if they said they were going to call Scotto for a formal interview and if they ever did. Scotto says he turned the tape over after he got back from the preliminary hearing, that they said they would call and no, they never did call.
Roger then asks the witness about the interview on the phone with Caldwell (which was taped and would have been a good opportunity to mention the conversation with McClinton and Alexander) if Caldwell specifically asked Scotto if he had been contacted by any other defendants in the case, and Scotto said “No”. He didn’t mention the shake down at the party. Scotto says he didn’t interpret the question that way – that the detectives knew that he had been in contact with the defendants at his wedding.
Galanter then asked Scotto about the phone conversation with Caldwell, and points out that Scotto didn’t point out to the detective that he was talking to OJ every day, either. That Scotto didn’t interpret the question that way and was only referring to recent events.
The the Jury has questions:
1. Did you invite Walter Alexander to your wedding? ANSWER: Yes
2. Why would you continue to talk to McClinton and Alexander and go out to the backyard with them a second time after they threatened you with bodily harm the first time? ANSWER: I’m a nice person – I don’t see the bad in people.
3. When you went to the police about the tape did you tell them you were threatened with bodily harm? ANSWER: No
4. Why didn’t you tell the police immediately after meeting with McClinton and Alexander that you were threatened with bodily harm and that you were being extorted for $50K? ANSWER: I thought McClinton was a dangerous person and I didn’t want to push him any further – I just wanted to let it go.
5. Did you tell OJ about the discussion with McClinton and Alexander? ANSWER: No, not at all.
6. Do you know if anyone had a gun with them on the night of the party? ANSWER: I didn’t know.
7. Did you ever tell Walter Alexander to call you if he needed help? ANSWER: Yes – I told him just like I would tell anybody – if he needed anything to give me a call – to be pleasant and nice.
With that, the defense rests for OJ Simpson – and renews all motions and exhibits made previously.
And Stewart’s defense case begins with the next witness – Linda Lockheart.
Linda Lockheart is CJ’s cousin, and she’s a breath of fresh air from all the thug witnesses we’ve seen. She works at the Rio Hotel – where CJ had set up a meeting with Cashmore and the men from New Orleans. He came to the Rio the afternoon of the 13th with two guests.
Linda testifies that she brought them down to the buffet and left them about 12:55 because she had to get back to her desk. They were still eating when she left.
This, again, is timeline evidence. If CJ was here at 12:55, it establishes his movements that afternoon. We know that the audio tape at the pool begins at 1:30 from Caldwell’s testimony, so the Defense is trying to show that CJ couldn’t have been there for that important “planning meeting”. And his voice is never identified on that tape, although people have placed him there and this meeting is the basis for his conspiracy charges.
On cross Owens established that Willy Singleton paid for the meal with his American Express card – so they know he was one of the guests that CJ had with him, although the defense never actually *says* the names. Owens wants the jury to know it was Willy Singleton, because Willy Singleton *was* at the poolside meeting – identified by Tom Riccio and talked about on the tape as A “lawyer of OJ’s”. The implication being, well, if Willy was at the pool, no reason CJ couldn’t have been.
There are no other questions from the attorneys – and none from the jury. Who probably have no idea why this witness was called other than to promote the fact that the Rio has a nice buffet. The defense will need to tie up all this timeline testimony in closing arguments before the jury knows the purpose of this witness.
And with this witness, the defense rests for Clarence Stewart.
The State says it has a few rebuttal witnesses – the first being Linda Foresta.
She is the keeper of records for the County Clerk’s office. She handles the marriage bureau. She brings along records and documents pertaining to the Scotto marriage license. According to the time stamp on the record it took 5 minutes from the time they got to the window until the transaction was complete. She generated a report from all the transactions that afternoon that shows that the average wait time during the times period in question was 9 minutes.
Bryson brings out that, of course, she wasn’t there that day and doesn’t know how long the Scotto’s spent filling out the application, and she agrees.
There are no further questions from the lawyers.
The jury has one question:
What information is asked for in the application? ANSWER: Gender, date, parties names, residence, Date of Birth, Birth state and country, Social Security number, the number of this marriage, the data of their divorce, where they were married before, parents info and their birth information, and the parties mailing address.
The state then recalls Detective Caldwell. Their primary reason for re-calling this witness is to answer an earlier jury question. There was prior testimony about some phone calls between OJ and Beardsley, and the taped call OJ made from jail to Arnelle Simpson references the fact that Beardsley wanted to drop all charges against OJ, and Beardsley said as much on the stand in this trial. The jury had asked if there were any calls between Beardsley and OJ to shore up the statements made by OJ to Arnelle in the jailhouse call that “I’ve talked to Beardsley and he said he wanted to drop the charges”. So OJ tells Arnelle to call Beardsley, if she can get back into OJ’s room at the Palms she can find his number on a notepad (“Christy knows where it is”) and if she can’t get into the room and get that notepad, then she needs to call Linda Deutsch and get Beardsley’s number, because Deutsch has talked to both Beardsley and OJ.
The state’s position is that OJ was manipulating Beardsley into changing his mind about the charges – and the defense contends that Beardsley gave media interviews before he ever talked to OJ and was already saying “I want to drop the charges”.
Caldwell has made another little chart of the calls between Deutsch, Beardsley and OJ, and there are many, many calls, ranging from 8 second calls to 18 minute calls. Again confirming that Deutsch has a definite bias and sympathy for OJ. So keep that in mind when reading her AP report.
And Beardsley called Deutsch the night of the incident. But he was making tons of calls at the same time. The next day, on the 14th at 10:00 am, there was an 18 minutes call when Deutsch called OJ. 45 minutes later OJ called Deutsch and spent 6 minutes on the phone with her.
And this little round about goes on for numerous calls over the next 3 days.
Owens then asks Caldwell about the testimony this morning from Scotto about the McClinton/Alexander meeting at Stewart’s party. The detective testifies that he did not know of this meeting – that Scotto did not tell him about it. But that Scotto certainly had many opportunities to bring it up.
Oh – and this is where all hell breaks loose in the courtroom, okay, because Caldwell (who, remember is a Detective and really SHOULD know better), says that one of the opportunities that Scotto had to tell Caldwell about this incident was when Mrs. Scotto was kicked out of the courtroom during the preliminary hearing for witness tampering.
And the lawyers, every one of them, jumps up, the judge starts looking like she’s going to have a fucking heart attack and puts her head in her hands mumbling “no, no, no…..” and Galanter starts screaming MISTRIAL.
And a funny note. All these lawyers heard “MR. Scotto” in the detective’s statement. I heard MRS Scotto and wrote it in my notes as such.
The judge quickly gets the jury out of the courtroom, and Galanter tells the court “Your honor, this witness just shot a big fat hole in the defense’s case. This statement is inflammatory and untrue. It was directed at us only to damage our case by discrediting the only defense witness we had, and was made to elicit this kind of response.”
Bryson, of course, joins in the motion and says that the testimony was by design. And that the court is way beyond and kind of effective curative instruction and there is no possible admonishment that would be sufficient. This witness carries the indicia of Law Enforcement, and because he’s been here three times he carries a weight of importance so his statement that our star witness is tampering with witnesses is extremely prejudicial.
The state thinks that the fact that Scotto was kicked out of the courtroom for witness tampering is totally admissible, so what is everyone getting upset about? They are offering it to show that Scotto has a bias towards OJ that would allow him to tamper with witnesses.
The judge says she isn’t going to grant a mistrial motion at this late date, and that she doesn’t believe that the detective made the statement on purpose to kill her case, that he knows what they are doing here and she doesn’t think it was intentional. She says that they’ve had testimony in this case about any number of highly prejudicial acts – extortion, hits, and this is just one more.
The state continues to argue that they think this is all admissible – that Scotto was the main witness for the defense and the state has the right to discredit this witness.
Galanter argues that if they want to do that – then they need to do it some other way – this witness wasn’t even in the courtroom and doesn’t know what happened – and the witness said that Judge Bonaventure threw Scotto out of the courtroom which absolutely did not happen, Galanter was there and would have known about that. And if the state wants to proceed down this path that the defense will call Judge Bonaventure to the stand.
The jury comes back and the judge admonished them that they are to disregard any statements from Caldwell regarding the allegations that Scotto was removed from the courtroom and why he was allegedly removed.
And Owens finishes his examination.
He tiptoes around the whole Scotto issue, and asks the witness if he met Scotto in the hallway at the preliminary hearing. The witness says yes, and that he asked Scotto at that time if Scotto had the time to give that formal interview they had spoken about before and Scotto said No, that he had nothing to add.
Galanter wants to ask the witness about the tampering allegations, and he asks the judge for more time. He wants to listen to the tape and read the court’s transcript and get Caldwell’s exact words – he wants to know if Caldwell actually said “Judge Bonaventure threw Scotto out of the courtroom:”, because Galanter knows for a fact that this did not happen. The judge very, very reluctantly gives Galanter permission to do this and some extra time, and VIOLA, when court re-convenes everyone finds out that Caldwell didn’t say MR Scotto he said MRS Scotto, so this was all for naught, since MRS Scotto wasn’t even a witness in this case, although the defense argues that it’s a difference without a distinction, that if he denigrated one Scotto, he denigrated the other, and they are not withdrawing their motion for a mistrial, although the judge IS going to withdraw the earlier admonishment she made to the jury.
Galanter then gets up to cross the witness on the tampering allegations, and he only asks the witness if he had personal knowledge of the facts of the tampering, and the witness admits he doesn’t.
Galanter then gets back to the witnesses primary purpose in being here – the phone calls and he asks if there are 5 calls between Linda Deutsch and OJ and Linda Deutsch and Beardsley *before* there is a phone call between Beardsley and OJ, and the witness says yes, there are.
Galanter then asks if the detective is aware that Beardsley made media interviews BEFORE the time of the first call between himself and OJ, but the detective doesn’t know if this is so. He is not aware of when Beardsley’s first interview was.
Galanter also asks if there is a statement on the tape to his daughter that everyone just “needs to tell the truth” – the detective agrees there is.
Owens asks the witness only if he said MRS Scotto, not MR Scotto, the witness says yes.
And the state rests, the defense for Simpson rests, the defense for Stewart rests – everyone rests.
The the judge goes over jury instructions – informally and off the record (too bad). Jury instructions will be tomorrow and closing arguments will begin after they are read.
To Sum Up: ENUNCIATE – or you’ll make the judge’s head explode; The Rio has a great buffet; Don’t go out to an unlit grassy are with two thugs who threatened you with bodily harm an hour before.
FUN FACT: Friday the jury here could begin deliberations. If they come back with a verdict it will be October 3rd – exactly 13 years to the day after the jury in Los Angeles came back with a not guilty verdict in the murder trial.