Chapter 23: FUHRMAN'S POLYGRAPH
Picture this: Mark Fuhrman accepts a challenge made by F. Lee Bailey on the Larry King show to be questioned on national TV by an LAPD polygraph expert. As the former police detective, now best-selling author, sits wired to the machine, the camera pans back and fourth between the grim faces of the two battle-hardened ex-Marines. After 2 years of wondering what the truth was about Fuhrmans role in the Simpson murder investigation, you are about to get some definitive answers. Everyone will be watching and judging. If a majority of experts agree, it will be hard to argue with their collective wisdom.
The polygraph display fills the screen with the graph needles on the right side fidgeting like thoroughbreds at the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby. The faces of Fuhrman and Bailey pop up in small boxes at opposite corners of the screen as the race begins. But, like the slow speed Bronco chase, this is no dash to the finish line. Its more like a drunken march, each needle marching to the tune of a different drummer, tracing jagged lines in horizontal rows as the graph paper scrolls from right to left. A long, cold silence is shattered by an unfamiliar voice....
"Im going to ask you a series of baseline questions and I want you to answer yes to all of them. Do you understand?"
"Yes" (the graph needles barely break stride). We recognize this voice. Its the voice we heard on the McKinny tapes boasting about his ability to plant evidence and having partners so close they could kill someone and cover for each other without being told what to say.
"Is your name Mark Fuhrman?"
"Yes" (the needles make a nervous twitch, but thats to be expected; its a tense situation).
"Are you sitting down?"
"Yes," (same unbroken rhythm).
" Is your hair green?"
"Yes" (needles go crazynow we know what a lie looks like).
"Did you plant the bloody Rockingham glove?"
Wed all seen enough television to expect something along these lines, even though we knew that the real thing couldnt be as dramatic in every detail as we imagined. We knew that it would be dramatic nonetheless because of who was involved and what was at stake. We thought that we were going to see a major television event recorded earlier that day.
How were we to know that what we were expecting to see took place in private three days before? How were we to know that we were only going to see an explanation of the results by Fuhrman and the examinerwho refused to have his work reviewed by anyone not approved by Fuhrman and Regnery Publishing, the company that paid for his services? No wonder the press was playing this one down. No wonder Larry King took the night off....
When all was said and done, we would know that Fuhrmans strongest reaction was to the question, "Did you plant the bloody glove," to which the examiner would explain why it should be ignored. We learned that other "relevant" questions Fuhrman aced were, "Did you see an empty knife box?" "Did you plant any evidence?" and "Did you see a bloody fingerprint?"
We learned that the only polygraph test accepted as evidence in court was not the Relevant/Irrelevant Test given to Fuhrman, but the Control Question Test Bailey wanted him to take. We also learned, as an aside, that Bailey "knows" Fuhrman didnt commit the murders, which answered all of my questions about why the evidence linking him to the slayings was never aggressively explored by the defense; it was never seriously considered.
I later discovered on the internet that Bailey was pursuing the idea that the prosecution scaled up the size of the bloody shoe prints from 10 to 12 to fit O.J. Simpson. That would clear Fuhrman as well because, as I learned through a considerable amount of study and work, Fuhrman wore size 12.
This is how the show went with Jim Moret sitting in for Larry King:
JM: Joining us from our Washington DC studios, former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman. Also joining him, is Paul Minor, who is President, American International Security Corporation, former member of the FBI who was their chief polygraph examiner from 1978 to 1987...
...Mark, you were on the stand in the Simpson criminal case nearly 2 years ago to the day, from today. Why did you wait so long to take this polygraph? I know that you said the timing wasnt right, but why 2 years later?
MF: Well, you know, Ive actually asked myself that quite a few times, and just recently, you know, I was ah you know, I was talking to some friends and I said, "Why didnt the prosecution basically confront the defense out of the presence of the jury and say, well fine, if you wanna make these accusations then lets put Mark Fuhrman on a polygraph, agree to the results and we get together on who should give the test and whatever the findings are well put in front the jury." That would have gone a long way to solve a lot of these problems. I cant believe it wouldnt be done because I surely would have gone on a polygraph.
Q: Well you took the polygraph, I understand, on Monday in Washington DC. You took it in private. Why did you elect to do that as opposed tolive on TV, for example?
MF: Well, you know, we do the polygraphs at LAPD in a room with the polygraph examiner and the subject. Ah, Its quite. Ah, The temperature is normal. You know, your responses are going to be the most appropriate and the most accurate when the stimulus in the room is not detracting you like these two lights that are shining above my head right now.
Q: So, youre talking about controlled conditions so that the results you get are reliable and accurate?
Q: Lets talk to Paul Minor the person who actually administered this test also in our Washington DC studios. Paul, tell us first, what is a polygraph; weve come to call it, in laymans terms a lie detector test. Is that really what it is?
PM: A polygraph actually records psycho-physiological reactions of the body that occur in response to questions.
Q: So put that in laymans terms. What does that mean if you were to ask me questions and Im hooked up your machine?
PM: It would mean that during the test, during the asking of the questions you would recognize what the question is, you would, maybe your heartbeat would pick up, blood pressure go up somewhat, you would maybe have some reaction in what we call the galvanic skin response which is essentially perspiration, sweat gland activity, electro-dermo activity of the skin.
Q: Well Paul, that happens, frankly, every time I go to the doctor and have my blood pressure taken. So how do you account for differences in nervousness and so forth?
PM Well its just higher apprehension when you go to the doctor and also while youre there, that anxiety is probably somewhat evenly occurring. Its not occurring just when the doctor does one certain thing unless its one of those personal examinations we go through
Q ...So, Paul, based on these tests as you have come to know them, can you tell if an individual is lying or telling the truth?
PM: Yes, I think we can, with about 1, maybe 2 percent error rate built in.
Q: Mark, I suppose the question is not begged, how do you know youre not that 1 or 2 percent?
MF: Well, because all the evidence in the case. My partners. Ah, other officers. Everybody corroborates these findings; its not the reverse. And plus the impossibilityah when you look at some of these questions, youll seelike knowing the whereabouts of O.J. Simpson. Um, the tampering of evidence. Did I see one glove and a knit cap at the Bundy scene [small, quick smile]. Did I remove anything from the Bundy scene. All these go towards one purpose; disproving any sequence of events that would allow me to do anything in this case.
JM: We will talk in detail about the polygraph examination that Mark Fuhrman took on Monday and we will see the results right after this....
After the commercial break, Morant reintroduced his two guests and said:
"...Mark, your book, Murder in Brentwood, is currently number one on the New York Times Best-Seller list. How can the audience be assured that the polygraph examination is not in some way related to the publicity of the book?"
Fuhrman told him that he couldnt, and then worked F. Lee Bailey into his answer, reminding the audience that Bailey had promised to give Fuhrman an apology on national television if he passed the lie detector testwhich, according to Paul Minor, he did. However, according to Bailey, who appeared on the show after Minor walked Morant and the audience through some high points of the test, "he flunked." That is, he failed the test in Baileys opinion and the opinion of another expert he was talking to during the demonstration, if one could call the test valid. Bailey had serious reservations about that and called upon Minor to submit his work for peer review to the American Polygraph Association, to which Minor belonged and all of the experts mentioned belonged.
Minor refused, citing the fact that he had asked the opinion of Warren Holmes, an expert recently retired from the Miami Police Department, who agreed with him. He also cited his inability to get in touch with the expert who agreed with Bailey. He said that he didnt want to make a circus of the test and would have to get permission from Fuhrman and the publisher of Fuhrmans book before he could pass it on to anyone.
In other words, you could pick the expert you wanted to interpret it any way you saw fit, so there was no doubt about how the OJGs or the OJIs in our group would interpret it.
But what about the OJUs who might be impressed enough with Minors credentials to overlook, in the matter of peer review, his deference to Fuhrman and the people who paid him? What about Dable, Chameleon, and Phil? If the test was even grudgingly acceptable to any of them, the OJGs could put that non-news story in the victory column for them, and we could count on hearing how Mark had passed his polygraph test and O.J. had flunked his. Never mind Marks two years to get ready vs. OJs two days. Never mind what Fuhrman said about the time and the conditions being right to get an accurate reading. Never mind the fact that O.J.s test was never completed and neither test was ever certified valid by an independent panel of experts.
This, to me, was the stinky stuff that all of Fuhrmans evidence was made ofpowerful, slightly out of whack but convincing enough for those who could get past a few inconvenient details. Most people do that automatically. The man knew what he was doing. Only this time, I was ready for him. Thanks to my experience on the boards and in the e-mail group, I knew how his experience with the public and the courts allowed him to anticipate reaction to dramatic evidence against Simpson. I now knew that he had the final ingredient necessary to believe he could kill two people, frame a popular celebrity, and get a big payoff in money and glory for doing it. Once you know the patterns, making the predictions is old hat.
While we were waiting for the polygraph test that we thought was coming, there were other issues we could discuss.
So, you might ask, where was the evidence for sweats? Where were the blue/black fibers in the washing machine or the bathroom drains? Never mind. The Larry King Show was on and all of us who could were watching it....
Thats what I thought, too, after studying Paulas MFG scenario. There was, in fact, little inconsistency with Fuhrmans answers to the questions and my current theory of how the killing and planting of evidence was accomplished. I would have expected some reaction to the "relevant" questions, but not much, if he hadnt done the actual planting himself. Knowing what he knew about homicide investigations, it wouldnt have surprised me if the killing and framing had been carried out with a polygraph test in mind. Be that as it may, I knew what a skillful liar he was from the demonstrable lies he told in his book.
Contact the author: Jasper Garrison