O.J. Simpson's lawyer proposed a new evidence-planting theory Friday, suggesting police placed a glove and cap under a bush inches from the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Later, the plaintiffs added another surprise to the wrongful death trial - taking just 13 minutes to question retired Detective Philip Vannatter, a key witness who spent five days on the stand during the criminal trial.Friday, Vannatter was asked only to describe his handling of a blood vial.
Attorney Robert Baker used his cross-examination of retired detective Tom Lange, Vannatter's partner, to give jurors the new theory, noting the lack of dirt on both items found in the soft soil.
"Did it ever occur to you that the cap and glove could have been placed there?" Baker asked.
"Certainly not," Lange said.
Simpson was acquitted of murder charges last year after a trial in which his lawyers argued, among other things, that a bloody glove that matched the one found near the bodies was planted on the grounds of Simpson's estate.
Simpson is being sued in civil court by relatives of the victims, and if jurors determine he was responsible for the killings, they can recommend monetary damages.
Baker asked whether police had ever tried dropping the items through the plants near Nicole Simpson's condominium to see where they would land. Lange said such an experiment was not done.
"You would agree the cap could not have been dropped in that position?" Baker asked.
"No, not necessarily," Lange answered.
"Could it be kicked under there?" Baker asked.
"Not unless it was kicked while it was coming down," Lange said.
Baker never accused Lange of planting the evidence but suggested he was part of a cover-up for those who did.
Baker also accused plaintiffs attorney John Q. Kelly of deliberately keeping Vannatter's tes-ti-mony brief in order to force the defense to spend extra money to call him back from his retirement home in Indiana to testify during the defense case.
Kelly asked Vannatter to explain his controversial decision to carry Simpson's blood sample 15 miles across town rather than book it at the crime lab.
"I wanted to get it to the criminalist to get it booked," Vannatter said simply.