Chain of Custody
How many times have you seen "evidence" like this in the O.J. Simpson case:
Shoe prints found at Bundy were from a size 12 Bruno Magli shoe, and bloody shoe impressions on the Ford Bronco carpet was consistent with a Bruno Magli shoe.
Simpson wore a size 12 shoe.
Photographs showing O.J. Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes, the same brand of shoes experts say a killer wore, were admitted as evidence in Simpson's wrongful death trial. The civil trial was by the relatives of Goldman and Ms. Simpson.
The photographs were taken of OJ Simpson on Sept. 26, 1993, at Rich Stadium, N.Y., before a Buffalo Bills game against the Miami Dolphins,
Simpson testified in the civil trial that he never owned them because they were ''ugly.''
No one attempted to present the combined information in the article above http://www.ohnonews.com/simpson.html as evidence in O.J. Simpson's criminal trial. It didn't come to light until late in the civil trial. If it had fallen into the prosecutors hands it is unlikely that they would have used it or that the judge would have allowed it if they had tried for one practical reason: It's not evidence. It's an interweave of facts and allegations that ultimately relies on trust in the integrity of four men, the only men with the motivation, control and resources to fake it. The same is true of all the photos showing O.J. Simpson wearing Bruno Magli Lorenzos in Rich Stadium on September 26, 1993. Who took the photos? When were they taken and when were they developed? Where? By what process? What controls were in place to prevent tampering? Did anyone other than the people who profited from them see them before the killer's shoes were identified as Bruno Maglis? Who were they? How did the photo in the article become a "CNN" photo?
A murderer pleading innocent has little choice but to cry, “I was framed!” when confronted with hard evidence against him. This defense can't fly if police and prosecutors handle the evidence in a way that precludes switching samples or producing evidence that did not exist. That's what establishing an unbroken chain of custody is supposed do. That's what it does in fact by plugging potential gaps where false evidence can be accidentally or deliberately introduced into a criminal trial. It becomes strong evidence of guilt.
Chain of custody is law enforcement documentation of how incriminating evidence passed from person to person on its way from initial observation to packaging and presentation in court. It shows when, how and by whom the evidence was found, secured, collected, transported, preserved and tested. Following strict chain of custody procedures is the only thing that ties defendants to the evidence that brought them to trial without resort to blind faith in the competence and integrity of the entire prosecution team at every critical point from observation to presentation.
People convinced that O.J. Simpson murdered his ex wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman have to go straight to the quantity and specificity of blood, hair and fiber evidence that prosecutors used in his murder trial. This is astoundingly easy to do with the rare quantity and specificity of evidence incriminating O.J. that the killer left at the South Bundy Drive murder scene and at O.J.’s North Rockingham Avenue estate. These items of evidence in such abundance raise a question that immediately answers itself. How could anyone other than the killer have left all of that incriminating evidence? Nobody. However, as the civil trial plaintiffs' attorney Dan Petrocelli said, "The Devil is in the details." Digging into those details he found what everyone finds who examines them closely. Only the killer with an accomplice can account for all of the evidence against O.J. and all of the missing evidence that cannot be scientifically traced to its origin or disappearance.
In addition to the positive identification of O.J.’s DNA and the DNA of Ron and Nicole in incriminating places, hair and fiber evidence also seemed to incriminate O.J. Blood identified in various labs as O.J.’s, Nicole’s and Ron’s inside O.J.’s Bronco tie the Bronco to Bundy and Rockingham on June 12, 1994 and to O.J.’s blood on his driveway and in his foyer.
California Department of Justice lab director Gary Simms extracted Nicole’s DNA and O.J.’s from blood on a sock. It was one of a pair of dark blue socks captured in a video by LAPD videographer Willie Ford on a rug in O.J.’s bedroom.
LAPD photographer Rolf Rokahr’s photos of the Bundy crime scene show:
1) The position of the bodies, their clothing and some of their wounds
2) Blood flowing down the walkway from the wound in Nicole’s neck
3) The pattern of blood flow between Nicole’s head and the items below Ron’s boot
4) A bloody, left-hand, dark brown leather, men’s XL Isotoner Aris Light glove
5) Bloody, size-12 shoeprints matching the tread pattern of Bruno Magli Lorenzos
6) A clean, dark blue knit cap
7) A white, #10 envelope with blood on in containing Juditha Brown’s glasses
8) Five blood drops on the walkway between the courtyard and the ally
9) Discolorations on the bottom of the rear gate later identified as blood.
10) A dime and a penny on Nicole’s driveway near the driver side of her Jeep
11) A butcher knife on Nicole’s kitchen counter with the blade tip pointing out
All of these photos were taken at the direction of the first homicide investigator on the scene, Mark Fuhrman. He tied himself inextricably to all 11 items by way of:
A) Photos he appeared in on Bundy, one of which shows his size-12 shoes (1-7)
B) Two entries in his Bundy notes (8 and 9)
C) His Murder in Brentwood theory of where the coins came from (10)
D) His Murder in Brentwood theory of why the butcher knife was on the counter (11)
Fuhrman was the first detective who could have seen the butcher knife. He did not put the observation in his notes. Officer Robert Riske, who called in the murders from Nicole's kitchen, did not mention the butcher knife. He was in the kitchen with Fuhrman before the other detectives arrived. The first person to notice the knife was Det. Phil Vannatter who arrived on Bundy an hour and fifty minutes after Fuhrman did.
According to Fuhrman in Murder in Brentwood the most important evidence in the case against O.J. was a clear fingerprint in blood on the back gate lock. He refers to it in item 15 of his 17-item notes: “Rear gate, inside dead bolt (turn knob type) poss blood smudge and visible finger print.” He did not have Rokahr photograph this evidence. He did not have it secured. He did not tell his supervisor Ron Phillips that it existed. Neither did his partner Brad Roberts who Fuhrman claims spotted it first. Roberts was not on the Bundy scene when detective Phil Vannatter and Vannatter’s partner Tom Lange arrived to take over the case. Fuhrman did not tell Vannatter or Lange about the bloody fingerprint. No chain of custody was ever established at the alleged point of initial observation to show that it existed.
Two other items of evidence at Bundy that did not find their way into a chain of custody were:
According to physical evidence and the testimony of Robert Riske, these items did exist. Lange did not book the plastic heart into evidence until mid August but O.J.’ s attorneys received a photo of it that was taken on the 13th. Between June 13 and August 15 Lange kept the plastic heart in his desk drawer at Parker Center. No one else mentioned the plastic heart. Only Riske, the first patrol officer on the scene, testified about the blue jean jacket. He testified in the murder trial that he and Fuhrman discussed whether it might have belonged to one of the victims. It never linked up anywhere in a chain of custody. Fuhrman did not make a note of it and it disappeared without being photographed.
Although Fuhrman was officially off the case when he went to Rockingham on the 13th, the new lead investigator Phil Vannatter put him in charge there while he left to secure a warrant to search the house. Fuhrman was in charge of Rockingham when Deputy DA’s William Hodgman and Marcia Clark arrived around noon. Fuhrman briefed them at a patio table in O.J.'s backyard and took them on a tour of the estate.
The photos used in O.J.’s preliminary hearing and criminal trial include:
1) The parking position of the Bronco from the front, rear and driver side.
2) A reddish brown spot above the door handle of the Bronco.
3) A piece of white splintered wood on the parkway near the Bronco’s front tire.
4) O.J.’s Bentley parked in front of Arnelle’s SAAB in the driveway.
5) Blood drops on the driveway between O.J.’s front door and Rockingham Ave.
6) Three tightly grouped blood drops on the wooden floor of the foyer
7) Two dark socks on the rug next to O.J.’s bed.
8) Luggage straps spread out on the bed
9) A black leather glove on the back of a couch in O.J.’s living room
10) A bloody, right hand, dark brown leather, men’s XL Isotoner Aris Light glove on the narrow walkway between Kato’s bungalow and a 4 ½ foot cyclone fence
The LAPD’s Piper Tech serology lab tested blood that incriminated O.J. So did the California Department of Justice and a private DNA testing facility in Maryland called Cellmark. FBI hair and fiber expert Douglas Deedrick identified Negroid limb hair in the Rockingham glove and on Ron Goldman’s shirt. Piper Tech criminalists found blue-black cotton fibers on Ron Goldman’s shirt, O.J.’s socks and the Rockingham glove.
So, what’s wrong with all of this dramatic evidence?
None of it isolates O.J. as the only person who could be responsible for its appearance because the chain of custody required to link it exclusively to him was broken at every critical point. No chronological record exists of who took each of the LAPD photos on Rockingham , who directed them to be taken or when. Evidence means nothing without proof of where it came from and when it appeared. The only way to know that photos of evidence match the physical samples they are supposed to match is through independently verifiable documentation. That documentation with respect to the evidence against O.J. Simpson was either fatally flawed or absent in every instance.
Two of Rokahr’s Bundy photos showed a dime and a penny in different proximity to each other. Lange’s report noted two dimes and two pennies. This is proof that the only people who could have been responsible for the way those coins appeared in the photos and in Lange’s notes were police officers who arrived on Bundy before Lange did. The shifting of evidence in this area, only a foot or so away from the last blood drop in a trail of blood drops later identified as O.J.’s puts the real source of any evidence found between the bodies and the ally into question. Even though the blood drops in the photos were present when the first patrol officers arrived, there is no evidence that they were the same blood drops represented as O.J.’s in court. There is overlapping chain of custody evidence that they weren't.
When you look at the chain of custody for blood evidence in the O.J. case, only the blood drops ordered to be photographed on Rockingham by Dennis Fung stand up to scrutiny. These blood drops were exculpatory because they left a trail going out of the Rockingham gate, a trail of blood from a small cut that match O.J.’s story of walking his dog before the murders. The incriminating blood drops on Bundy were too large to have come from that cut.
Fung did not photograph or collect a trail of blood running along the left side of the Rockingham driveway. The only person who can be linked to those incriminating blood drops in any way is the man that Mark Fuhrman claimed in Murder in Brentwood collected them, his partner Brad Roberts.
Blood on Bundy identified as O.J.’s in the Piper Tech lab went into a coin envelope with the initials of criminalist Andrea Mazzola on it and came out of an envelope with no initials. Blood that went into that envelope dry came out with evidence that it went in wet. The FBI did not test this blood for EDTA because the lab director Michelle Kestler said there wasn’t enough of it to send to the FBI.
No blood in the Bronco was tested for EDTA and no blood was documented as being in the Bronco until June 14. The door to the Bronco in police custody was not locked and the vehicle was not guarded before Dennis Fung took the samples. He did not fill out the form indicating when he took them. Michelle Kestler filled it out later.
Blood identified as O.J.’s on the Rockingham glove was exposed to an open vial of O.J.’s reference blood sample. 1.5 cc’s of blood was missing from that vial before discolorations on Nicole’s back gate were swabbed and identified as O.J.’s blood. This happened nine weeks after the crime scene was washed down. This “old blood” had the highest concentrations of DNA of any other sample. It also contained EDTA.
No blood was discovered on the socks until nine weeks after they were first examined. EDTA was found in that blood but not on the surrounding material.
A missing lens from Juditha Brown’s glasses kept in Piper Tech demonstrated that the facility was not secure. The missing lens had blood on it that Dr. Henry Lee believed was a fingerprint. The lens disappeared before it could be tested but not before the glasses were photographed with both lenses.
July 5, 1995
MARCIA CLARK examining FBI hair and fiber expert Douglas Deedrick: Now, I think you said earlier that you found some limb hairs of black origin collected from the evidence in this case?
DEEDRICK: I did, yes.
CLARK: And by "Limb hairs" I think you defined it before as from the hand or the arm or the leg?
DEEDRICK: That's correct.
CLARK: And which items of evidence revealed black limb hairs?
DEEDRICK: That would have been Ron Goldman's shirt as well as the glove recovered at Rockingham.
MS. CLARK: Now, did you receive any limb hair samples from the Defendant?
MR. DEEDRICK: I did not.
CLARK: What is your habit and custom with respect to the comparison of limb hairs?
DEEDRICK: Well, they are not routinely compared in a forensic laboratory because of their limited nature.
CLARK: What do you mean by that, "Limited nature"?
DEEDRICK: Well, limb hairs do not have enough individual microscopic characteristics, like head hairs and pubic hairs, for me to say or for forensic examiners to say that this person is a likely candidate of this particular hair as being the source. There is too much overlap that we find. There is some broad conclusions that can be reached. That is, a person with blond limb hair is going to look different than an individual that has black-colored limb hair. It is possible to distinguish race in some instances, but they are not as good as head and pubic hairs for comparison purposes.
One Negroid head hair was also found on the Rockingham glove and one Negroid head hair on Ron Goldman’s shirt. One Negroid limb hair and one Causation limb hair was found inside the Rockingham glove.
Here’s the problem with that evidence:
CLARK: Now, we've talked a little bit about your experience in previous stabbing cases, sir, and I wanted to ask you is it common in your experience to find head hair transfers in stabbing cases?
DEEDRICK: It is not very common from my experience, no.
CLARK: And why is that?
DEEDRICK: Well, certain types of cases don't lend themselves well for a transfer of hair evidence. Cases like sexual assault case where you have bed sheets and clothing and worn by the individuals are often probably the better items of evidence to collect--to collect hair and fiber material from. They are large items, they tend to hold hair and fiber for a longer period of time. But in stabbing cases I just haven't seen it. And I would have expected in stabbing cases, being violent as they are, that--that I would find a lot of hair transfers, such as head hair transfers, but I just don't see it. Once in awhile you do, but it is uncommon.
This line of questioning was to show why there was only one head hair from a black person on Goldman’s shirt. The knit cap with hair in it that could have been O.J.’s (or Justin’s) was put in the same container as the shirt. The forensic value of that hair is therefore zero.
The limb hair is another story. One Negroid limb hair inside the Rockingham glove would suggest that O.J. wore them (or that Fung or Yamauchi shook a black person’s hand and accidentally transferred it to the glove). No individual could be identified as the donor and no time that the hairs were deposited could be determined. An unidentified Caucasian hair was also found inside the Rockingham glove (Fuhrman was checked; his partner Brad Roberts was not). No human hair was found inside the Bundy glove.
The problem here is that the prosecution also argued that Nicole bought the gloves for O.J. in December 1990. They argued that O.J. wore them from then on in the football season as a TV color commentator in cold climates. If O.J. wore those gloves so many times, why was there only one Negroid limb hair? Why no limb hair in the Bundy glove and why any unidentified Caucasian limb hair in the Rockingham glove? What is the rational basis for arguing that the unidentified Negroid limb hair in the glove that Mark Fuhrman found when his partner was unaccounted for is incriminating to O.J. and the unidentified Caucasian limb hair is meaningless?
A logical alternative is that the killer wore both gloves with latex gloves between his hands and the lining of the leather gloves and that the transfer of one Negroid limb hair to the inside of the Rockingham glove was no accident.
Again, this is a chain of custody issue.
Fuhrman announced that he found the Rockingham glove around 6:30 A.M. on the morning of June 13. In Murder in Brentwood he says that he and his partner Brad Roberts saw the socks in O.J.’s bedroom at 8:00 A.M. Fuhrman instructed Dennis Fung to collect the glove around 10:00. As long as the police were invited into the house Fuhrman and Roberts could look around without a search warrant if they stuck to things that were in “clear view.” Fuhrman was in charge of the Rockingham crime scene then because Vannatter put him in charge when he left to get the search warrant. Judge Leftwitz signed the warrant at 10:45.
Vannatter retuned that afternoon and put Det. Burt Luper in charge of the search. Luper was upstairs in O.J.’s bedroom with a black leather glove in his hand that he took from O.J.’s closet. When someone called Luper he went downstairs with the glove and left it downstairs where Willie Ford captured it on videotape. This information came out during Luper’s cross-examination in the criminal trial when Johnnie Cochran asked him about the black glove on the tape. Luper admitted his distraction error. He found only one glove in the bedroom. The matching glove was missing.
A pair of tweezers is all it would have taken to extract a limb hair from the missing black glove and put in the bloody brown glove behind Kato’s bungalow. It is only conjecture to say that this happened but it is a fact that it could have. With proper chain of custody procedures in force it could not have happened. No one guarded the bloody brown glove in Vannatter’s absence, which broke the chain of custody between Fuhrman’s discovery of it and Fung’s collection. Therefore it is also conjecture to say the hair was in the bloody brown glove because O.J.’s hand was in it. No evidence supports that conjecture. Everything in the sequence of events involving Fuhrman and Roberts between Fuhrman’s discovery of the bloody glove with Roberts unaccounted for and Fuhrman's direction to Fung to collect it three and a half hours later, disputes it. The only person who can be tied positively to both of those gloves is Mark Fuhrman.
The prosecution attempted to show that numerous blue-black cotton fibers on Ron’s shirt and the Rockingham glove implicated O.J. because the same fibers were found on O.J.’s socks. This evidence doesn’t even fit into a chain of custody. It has no documented point of origin and no connection to O.J., just to his socks and to the detectives (Fuhrman and Roberts) who claimed after both trials that they discovered them on the 13th. These fibers were only on O.J. socks and, like the EDTA-laced blood on one of those socks, not discovered until August. The fibers from the carpet in O.J.’s Bronco at least had some connection to him. They were rare in his Ford Bronco because the carpet had to be special ordered for the Bronco. That carpet was standard in the Ford Taurus used by the LAPD on Bundy and Rockingham.
If the thinking behind the “Bronco” fiber evidence being incriminating to O.J. is that he must have tracked them into the crime scene from his Bronco, it doesn’t work. FBI experts had a tough time isolated the killer’s shoeprints because most of the bloody shoeprints photographed on Bundy belonged to officers of the LAPD. – Jasper