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O.J. TEAM AIMS TO DISCREDIT DOCTOR WHO DID AUTOPSIES

Dealt yet another setback by the O.J. Simpson judge, the defense regrouped and rejuggled its witness list to shift the focus from bloody socks and news leaks to autopsy evidence.

Defense attorneys said Thursday's testimony at Simpson's murder trial probably would come from Michael Baden or Barbara Wolf, two forensic pathologists working for Simpson.Whoever takes the stand was expected to heap criticism on the doctor who conducted autopsies on the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman and suggest the evidence points to a later time of death closer to when Simpson has an alibi.

Jurors were given the day off Wednesday to allow the defense to shift gears.

The defense had hoped to be calling police technicians, laboratory officials and two journalists to press a theory that a news leak about DNA tests was linked to a police conspiracy of evidence tampering.

But Judge Lance Ito ruled Wednesday that the leak about tests on a bloody sock was irrelevant to the case. That dashed the defense's hopes of seeing confidential police documents and avoided a First Amendment battle with the journalists over whether they would have to reveal sources.

"Without this ruling, we would have seen the LAPD on trial," said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson.

Outside court, defense attorney Carl Douglas said his team was disappointed in the ruling but added, "We remain undaunted. We're not going to cry about it. The central aspect of our claim that blood on the sock was planted has not been affected by this ruling."

Ito acknowledged the defense has presented extensive material to show blood could have been planted on one of the socks at Simpson's house. But he said the defense failed to show that whoever prematurely revealed test results to journalists also probably tampered with evidence.

"Viewed optimistically," the judge said in a written ruling released after his remarks from the bench, "a forced disclosure (of reporters' sources) would reveal a police officer in possession of misinformation. This does little to advance the defense case."