Another twist as the OJ court carnival begins

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The Independent Online
Hours before the curtain was due to rise on a tale of celebrity, sex, violence, jealousy, and deceit which has obsessed America for months, the double- murder trial of OJ Simpson threw up another unexpected twist. Opening statements in the much-vaunted "trial of the century" were delayed yesterday but not before lawyers for the former Buffalo Bills' running back unveiled fresh allegations that potentially key evidence had been withheld by a Los Angeles policemaninvestigating the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson's "dream team" of millionaire attorneys produced court papers saying that his white Ford Bronco was seen parked at his house around the estimated time when the two were stabbed to death on 12 June last year. The bodies were found outside his ex-wife's townhouse in Brentwood, Los Angeles; Simpson has denied committing the murders.

The allegations came in papers submitted to Judge Lance Ito in a last-minute attempt to persuade him to allow them to introduce evidence that the detective, Mark Fuhrman, once used a slur against blacks. They contend that Mr Fuhrman is a racist, who planted a bloody glove found on Simpson's estate shortly after the slayings.

In the documents, Simpson's lawyers said that Mr Fuhrman withheld an interview with a woman, Rosa Lopez, who said she had seen his Bronco parked near his driveway between 10.15pm and 10.20pm on 12 June. She allegedly also heard voices and noises coming from Simpson's house after he had left for the airport for a flight to Chicago.

It has been obvious for months that the case has turned into a drama far more complex than a mere murder story, but it was never more clear than yesterday, as the world awaited the start of opening statements.

When Simpson, 47, walked nervously into court, watched by his wheelchair-bound mother, Eunice, and by relatives of his alleged victims, he knew he was strutting a stage on which every action was being broadcast to hundreds of millions of people.

The prosecution enters this crucial phase of the trial, having cleared two important hurdles. It can show the results of DNA tests which match Simpson's blood to drops found at the scene.

Although the defence strategy is impossible fully to predict, some is already clear. They will attack the police and coroner's office for sloppy methods. They will try to prove that Simpson did not have enough time to commit the killings.

And they may suggest that Nicole Simpson and Goldman may have been the victims of a drug-killing carried out by several hitmen. This theory may involve citing the unsolved murder of Brett Canton, an underground music promoter, who was found dead in his Hollywood home on 30 June 1993. Canton worked at a nightclub frequented by Nicole Simpson and Goldman, who sometimes worked there. His throat had been slashed and his body had multiple stab wounds - a chillingly similar scene to the one which sparked the biggest, gaudiest carnival in the history of the United States.