Chapter 31: O.J.'S ALIBI
Contrary to what you may have heard before, the only Rockingham scenario that fits all of the material evidence and independently corroborating testimony is O.J. Simpsons. Lets see how it looks with an accurate diagram. But remember, the car that was parked on the left of the driveway when Park turned left to take O.J. to the airport was never identified and could have come or gone at any time. Until Park made that left-hand turn, there was no reason for him or O.J. to have given it a second thought if it had been there all along. At this juncture we cant prove that it was there before Park left with O.J. for LAX although Freed and Briggs report in Killing Time that neighbors, who would not reveal their identities, said that an unknown car was parked "near Rockingham." Was that "near" the street or near the street address of O.J. Simpson? More about that later.
O.J. said that he normally parked his Bronco on Ashford, which is where he says it was before he drove it around his driveway to Rockingham. Kato Kaelin, who also parked his car on Ashford, could not recall ever seeing it parked elsewhere. All of which means, thats where it probably was before O.J. moved it. That alone is an important part of O.J.s alibi in that it establishes a reasonable explanation for where the Bronco, parked on Rockingham, came fromAshford, not Bundy.
After Sydneys dance recital, between 7:00 and 9:00 p.m., O.J. goes to his Bronco, parked in its usual spot on Ashford. He drives it into the compound to unload some items for his trip to Chicago.
He drives to the Rockingham gate. The remote gate opener he had kept in the Bronco is missing, so he gets out of the vehicle and opens the gate manually with a button on the left.
He drives through the open gate, makes a sharp right turn and parks at a 2-degree angle to the curb. The move from Ashford to Rockingham around his circular drive is now complete. Its the last time he drives it anywhere. A spare key to the Bronco is kept in a kitchen drawer for the maid and other members of the household who might make use of it while hes away.
Around 9:00 P.M., O.J. called Christian Reichardt and they talk for 15 minutes or so. Afterward, O.J. took his Bentley out of the garage and drove to McDonalds with Kato. While they were away, the alarm was off. No one else was home. Rosa Lopez heard footsteps near the garage. The Broncos spare key was stolen. O.J. didnt know this. Neither did Kato, who would soon be asked to get it by a homicide detective named Phil Vannatter investigating the murder of Simpsons ex-wife, Nicole.
O.J. and Kato return from McDonalds. O.J. parks the Bentley on the driveway at 9:45. No sign of bleeding. O.J. and Kato go their separate ways.
This is where we have only O.J.s word, phone company records, and the blood trail to tell us what he did until Park saw him at 10:55.
Its quite a chore to see from O.J.s civil trial deposition whether he called Paula Barbiari before or after he chipped a few golf balls and walked the dog. Petrocellis style of questioning had much to do with that. He often walked O.J. step by step through a long sequence of events, going so far at one point as to ask O.J. how long he spent sitting on the crapper. Then he would suddenly jump forward or backward in time, skipping over some actions hed asked about before to ask about others. O.J. sometimes fell into that pattern with his answers, which led to statements like, "...She likes to talk to me but she is no longer living." You may want to think about that the next time you hear about the high inconsistency count in his testimony. Most of the inconsistency came from the framing of the questions and misrepresentation of the answers. The restlike most of the other witnesseswas perfectly consistent with the imperfections of oral communication and an imperfect memory.
Once O.J. said Jason when he was talking about Justin, his other son whose two-syllable name started with J. Another time, he said Bronco when he was talking about his other car whose two-syllable name started with B, his Bentley. He didnt remember Katos Nissan any more than Park did at first, though he acknowledged that it must have been there. These are not inconsistencies that have anything to do with lies. The insinuation that they do is the lie.
Our only guide as to whether O.J. was chipping golf balls or putting on his murder clothes between 9:45 and 10:30 is the physical evidence left behind. There were no blue/black fibers from the murderers sweatsuit (if thats where they came from) in the Bronco or on his bedroom rugno imprints of the Silga sole anywhere in the house or on the grounds. There were golf balls collected by police from O.J.s front yard (though the prosecution and the plaintiffs hinted that there werent, without producing the relevant documentation). Furthermore, his 10:03 call to Paula Barbiari and the blood-drops he didnt know about are all on his side.
Since memory is seldom perfect, a perfectly consistent story could be a giveaway of a practiced fabrication. Still, one expects the main points to stay the same, and finding inconsistencies is one way of separating fact from fiction. So where does that leave O.J.?
In pretty good shape, actually, thanks to his 10:03 phone call and the blood on his driveway.
Considering Allan Parks false memories of the Nissan, the dog and the SAAB when his main concern was getting O.J. to the airport on time, we might ask what O.J.s main concern was. Would the order in which he went looking for his sand wedge or his light jacket, or the time he walked the dog, have seemed as significant to him as the fact that he did those things in some order? Not if his biggest plans for the night were to fly to Chicago. Phone company records and the placement of the blood-drops say, that pretty well sums it up.
From 10:04 to 10:55, O.J. had to be more upset about not getting in touch with Paula than he wanted to admit when confronted with the DAs contention that his feelings drove him to murder. There is no reason to doubt that he wanted her to drive him to the airport, as he said. They had serious things to talk about and he had to leave within the hour. He always ran late, so there is no reason to believe that he was packed and ready to go when his last call to Paula didnt go through.
O.J. ends up talking to the dogprobably about Paula and Nicole and women in general. Hes going to be in the public eye shortly and he wants to maintain an outgoing, upbeat appearance, even with Dale, the limousine driver he expects to see in less than 45 minutes. He has to relax. With a 3 wood in hand, he heads for his Bronco to see if the sand wedge he couldnt find in the trunk of the Bentley is in there. He presses the button to open the gate and steps back to get out of the way. Chachi runs out. He calls to her. A car is now behind the Bronco, where Rosa Lopez had been with the Salingers dog a few minutes earlier. The man in the car knows her habits as well as he knows O.J.s, and can now feel safe in staking himself out in the ideal location to see and do everything his assignment calls for.
10:05: As O.J. exits the gateway, the first 2 blood-drops appear on the drive.
Without retrieving the sand wedge he was looking for in the Bronco, O.J. let Chachi relieve herself in his neighbors yard and walked toward Ashford. Chachi and O.J. entered the estate through the Ashford gate.
10:15 or 10:20. O.J. takes pitching wedge out of Bentley trunk, stands on the edge of the grass and begins chipping golf balls toward the sand in the playground. He has stopped bleeding and never realizes hed been cut.
Between 10:15 and 10:20, O.J. enters his house through his garage. He goes upstairs to his bedroom. Meanwhile, Allan Park is looking for 360 North Rockingham. He sees the number on the curb but he has already passed the Rockingham gate so he keeps going.
Park drives onto Ashford. Realizing that he is early, he turns around so that he is best positioned to observe the front door of the house and enter the compound through either gate. He goes to the back of the limo for a smoke while he waits for the appointed time to pick up his famous passenger. He has no way to know that O.J. is in his bedroom, and O.J. has no way to know that Park is outside. Neither of them is aware of the blood-drops on the driveway and O.J. has not bled in the house. As near as anyone but the killer and his Rockingham lookout can tell, there is no blood in the picture anywhere.
If O.J. was framed, there had to have been an observer positioned inconspicuously to keep a constant eye on the Bronco, an ear to his police scanner or other eavesdropping device, and an open cell phone line to the killer. Inconspicuous is what Katos Nissan was to O.J. because there was no reason for him to pay attention to it. Its what O.J.s Bronco was to Allen Park, whose only memory of it was a visual "obstruction" of some kind when he was checking for traffic on his way out of the Rockingham gate and a physical one when he was thinking about turning into it. When Park said "cars," he could only have been talking about the Bentley and the Bronco or the Bronco and the unidentified car on the neighbors side of the driveway.
The car on the other side of the driveway was inconspicuous. No one has ever bothered to find out who it belonged to, how long it was there and why it was there, much less who might have been inside of it and why.
I think we can and should narrow that down to one man before we go on to account for the rest of the blood-drops: Who but a person with years of surveillance experience could have expected that car to go unnoticed for over an hour? Who but a person with years of surveillance experience would have thought to unscrew the interior light bulb (standard surveillance practice) in the Bronco? Who knew O.J.s habits and the layout of his estate well enough to create a reason for him to appear rattled when it was time for him to meet the driver, and to give Fuhrman a reason to look in the right place for the "missing" glove? Who was close enough to Fuhrman, O.J. and Nicole to steal the spare keys to Nicoles house and O.J.s Bronco, the remote control opener for Nicoles garage and O.J.s gate, and to pass a message on to Fuhrman that O.J. was bleeding from his left hand? Who was well versed in standard police procedures? Who might have gotten in and out of the Bronco and been mistaken for O.J. if hed been seen by someone in a passing car? Does such a person exist?
His name is Ron ShippO.J.s "friend," and spouse abuse-counselor who testified about O.J. telling him hed dreamed of killing Nicole. Hes the man who said he feared that O.J. was guilty based on his past abuse and the cut on his finger. Hes the guy who called Mark Fuhrmanhomicide detectiveat Rockingham and supposedly said, "O.J. didnt hurt Nicole, did he?" The killer would have required telephone contact with an observer exactly like Shipp in a car exactly where we know one was. The question is, where was Ron Shipp?
Lets go back to 10:00 p.m. and see what a frame-up scenario looks like with the mystery car in the picture. Consider what a man in that car tuned into O.J.s cell phone frequency or a listening device would have been able to see, hear, do, and pass on covertly to the killer. There was a blood-drop somewhere on the street behind the Bronco. When it appeared, and exactly were it was located, is not clear. But whenever it appeared, the observer would have been ideally placed to see it. At 10:40-10:45 his path to Katos wall in front of the air conditioner where the thumps came from, would have been a straight shot.
He would have heard the message O.J. left with Paula and heard him talking to the dog as he approached the gate. He would have seen Chachi run out and O.J. call out to her as she did. Seeing the blood-drops outside of the gate, he could have assumed by O.J.s sharp call that the dog had nipped him. He would have known when to duck down and when to look up again. He would have known when O.J. was out of contact with everyone long enough for the only man with good reason to know what time it was to show up and see the Bronco.
When Park arrived at 10:24 instead of 10:40, no adjustments had to be made. Investigators will believe that the killing happened 20 minutes before the limo driver testifies that he saw the Bronco at 10:24 because the killer will break Nicoles watch and set the time back to 10:03, just like in the movies. Why not? A big black man had been there around that time driving a white Bronco. O.J.s call had been made at 10:03. He hadnt talked to anyone and no one had seen or talked to him since then.
Now all the killer had to do was get into position at Bundy with a lookout in front and wait for Goldman to arrive. The cut finger meant the killer had to improvise. Time was short. What could he do? ...The left glove could not be made to match the cut on O.J.s hand, which meant O.J. couldnt have been cut when he was wearing it. It would have to have been left with the cap and shoeprints. No problem...But if the glove was off, "O.J.s blood" would have to be left somewhere and a bloody fingerprint, too. There would be plenty of blood and a sample of O.J.s would be available in the lab. He could use his own fingerprint until someone "accidentally" smeared it. The mission was still a go.
10:39: While the murders at Bundy are in progress, Park drives south on Rockingham and stops in the middle of the street wondering if he can turn into the drive. He looks to his left and sees two cars he will later recall being parked on the driveway. Because of the narrow space, the acute angle, the hedges and the cars he does not turn into the drive. Park never says whether he saw the Bronco on his way in or out of the Rockingham drive. On his way out he refers to a car on his left and an "obstruction" of some sort on his right. Could that obstruction be one of the cars he sees on his left at 10:39? It could have been nothing else.
10:40. Park drives backward on Rockingham, backs around the corner onto Ashford and pulls up to the gate. He gets out of the limo and begins ringing the bell while O.J. is in the shower. From O.J.s vantage point, the ringing tells him that his regular driver, Dale St. John, has arrived and will let himself in. From Parks vantage point, no one seems to be home because he can see no lights on in the house. His calls to St. John and to his mother at various times set up an accurate record for how long he rang the bell and when he first saw Kato and O.J. That, in turn, helps bracket the time when Kato heard the thumps.
Between 10:40 and 10:45, while Park continues to ring for entry, Kato Kaelin hears the thumps that shake his wall and make him wonder if there had been an earthquake. In a way there has been. 2 1/2 miles southeast, at 875 South Bundy, Robert Heidstra and Sydney Simpson hear a man yell, "Hey! Hey! Hey!" (H-2) followed by an argument between two men. Sydney, who knows O.J.s voice and Ron Goldmans, does not recognize either of these voices. Heidstra, who details all kinds of vehicles for a living, does not recognize the make of the light-colored sports utility vehicle heading south on Bundy a short time later (H-3).
Shortly after 10:50, Kato grabs a flashlight and nervously circles the main house to investigate the source of the noise, which the plaintiffs in the wrongful death action say he heard at 10:50. Kato and Park see each other while Park is in the limo talking on the phone with Dale St. John, who called him at 10:52. St. John does not explain his usual routine with O.J. Instead, he tells the young man to wait until 11:15 and then to leave.
10:56: Kato is behind the garage. He had to lift the first gate before he could open it because it was broken and didnt sit right on its hinges. He stops at the second closed gate on the southeast corner of his bungalow afraid to go further with his dim flashlight. About this time, Park spots O.J. in dark clothes coming toward him for a few steps before turning into the pavement leading to his door. He is on the edge of his driveway by a park bench where he has placed some luggage. Neither Park nor Kato had seen him come out.
Park gets back out of the car and again tries the buzzer. This time O.J. answers. The driver
tells him how long he has been ringing and O.J. tells him that he was in the shower. He does not tell him that he overslept and does not buzz him in because he doesnt want the dog to get out. Meanwhile, Kato comes back from behind the garage, sees the limo still sitting there and the driver standing beside it. The dog is sitting in the middle of the driveway. Kato walks to the gate, moves the dog out of the way and opens the gate. Only after he is inside does Park notice the dog. Kato still hasnt seen O.J. since they got back from McDonalds.
11:02. Park pulls up to the entrance way of the house when O.J. comes out of the door, showered, dressed, groomed and almost ready to go with a packed suitcase in each hand. Kato, who has gone back behind the garage, hears them talking. He does not go back as far as he had the first time and never opens the gate nearest to his bungalow.
O.J. is right-handed and had done nothing until now to stretch the skin around the sealed cut on the far edge of the middle finger of his left hand. Lifting the bag with his fingers instead of his fist would have done it. Without knowing that he had a freshly sealed wound on that finger, he would have had no reason to be careful about how he picked up his luggage.
Kato, hearing O.J. and the driver talking, joined them and asked O.J. if hed heard or felt an earthquake. But the first thing he asked O.J. was whether hed overslept. O.J. didnt answer and Park later recalled Katos words as coming from O.J. Though Kato and O.J. remember it the same way, the media recorded and replayed it Parks way, and pointed to it snidely and repeatedly as one more example of an obvious O.J. Simpson lie. The truth is in the transcripts and there is not the slightest doubt about it. Its another case of turning exculpatory evidence on its head. Between the time Park saw O.J. walking into the house and the time he saw him come out, clean, groomed, dressed, packed and ready to go, only 6 minutes had elapsed. O.J. said nothing to misrepresent where hed been or what hed been doing before then. What he did say was consistent with what the evidence showed.
Kato loads O.J.s golf bag and offers to get the bag hed noticed behind the Bentley when he saw Park loading the other things. He hadnt noticed it before. Time is short, O.J. is the only one not doing anything and hes the closest one to the bag. He says hell get it himself and does, before Kato goes back to the path behind the garage. At 11:05, O.J. still doesnt have everything he wanted to take to Chicago, and Park doesnt seem to know what hes supposed to do with the luggage. O.J. then helps the fumbling driver with the luggage, exposing his hand without concern that Kato and Park can see it. He registered very little of what Kato was trying to tell him. If it was that serious wouldnt Kato have called him? Its his property and hes the one with the guns. O.J. steps back into the foyer as Park gets his bags to load in the trunk of the limo. He takes a quick look at his watch and snaps his arm back down, leaving a characteristic cluster of droplets from a superficial wound too small to be called drops by Henry Lee.
How could anyone equate three thumps on a wall to an earthquake? The padded end of a baseball bat would work, or the back edge of a mans fistor a sand wedge. Anything that could reach across the 4 fence and make three wall-shaking impacts with a muffled sound would work. An air-conditioners condenser would have made more noise than movement, noise that Rachel Ferrara would have heard on the phone as distinctly as Kato did. A man accidentally crashing into the wall or the air-conditioner would not have had the necessary momentum from any direction; could not have done so three times, would not have opened and closed the gates and would have left some trace.
While Kato is taking another look behind the garage, O.J. heads for his Bronco to get batteries for his cell phone, taking the most direct route between the cars and across the lawn. Another blood-drop falls, this one near the edge of the grass between the front of the limo and the rear of the Bentley.
After pressing the button for the gate, he loops to his right and hurries through the opening as soon as its wide enough to let him out. The third blood-drop appears by the Rockingham gate.
Among other crimes committed at Rockingham was piss-poor documentation of the scene. In the absence of known reference markers, you have to figure a comparatively wide margin of error into your calculations of where things belong in a distorted space. The parking angle of the Bronco, for example, could be calculated within 20 seconds of a degree because of the constant width of the line next to the curb, the known width of the tire base and the known width of the tires. But since the Bentley was moved before the blood-drop photos were taken, its position and the blood-drop behind it could be off by as much as a foot. Thats at least 10 times closer than the official LAPD photos of the Bentley and 30 times closer to scale than the Fuhrman diagram of the blood-drops. It is not as close as it should be in a murder investigation where time speaks of guilt or innocence and the exact position of cars, gates and blood-drops tell time.
11:08-11:12. O.J. returns from the Bronco and depositing the last 2 blood-drops he will shed on his estate. He is soon joined once again by Kato who is still yammering about an earthquake on the other side of his wall and asking for a better flashlight. It finally dawns on O.J. that Kato might have cause to be excited. He agrees to help with a search, going inside with Kato to get a better flashlight. Neither O.J. nor Kato can find one. O.J. is looking for one in the kitchen when he notices the blood on his finger. He seals it with a small piece of absorbent paper between his fingers. Seeing the time on his wristwatch, he abandons the search, gets in the limo and leaves. Kato goes to the gate, opens it and waves good-bye. He does not see the tiny droplets of blood on the driveway. It is unlikely that he ever would have if they hadnt been pointed out, unless he was looking at O.J. through high-powered binoculars when he shed them.
Park checks for traffic before turning onto Rockingham. Looking to his left, he sees a car on the other side of the driveway. On his right, he notices only that the traffic is clear. In the grand jury investigation he said categorically that there was no vehicle parked there when he arrived or when he left. In his pre-trial deposition, after its presence at that time was firmly established, he said he recalled a visual "obstruction."
Allan Park never did see the Bronco or identify it as a motor vehicle of any kind, any size, shape or color. Police detectives never attempted to identify the car parked in back of the Bronco or to consider its possible role in a frame-up. If they had, they would have discovered a simple explanation for a crucial piece of evidence found next to the Bronco they dismissed because they couldnt tie it to O.J. That is, all of the detectives except one dismissed it. Mark Fuhrman did everything in his power to use it as the centerpiece for his O.J.-busting genius.
PDF version of Chapters 31-35
Contact the author: Jasper Garrison