Prosecutors play on emotion to crack Simpson's defence

`Trial of the century': Former American football star is painted in summing up as a volcano of rage waiting to explode
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The Independent Online
In an impassioned summing up Chris Darden yesterday crystallised the motives that prosecutors believe drove O J Simpson to murder his ex-wife and, by an accident of time and circumstance, Ron Goldman.

Following on from the previous evening, Mr Darden presented to the jury a history of Simpson's 10-year relationship with Nicole Brown that ended, he said, in an explosion of murderous anger towards her.

"With each thrust of the knife, there is a release of rage... he's settling a personal score, the hate he has for her flows through that knife and he wants her to know who it was that was doing this."

In contrast to Marcia Clark's summing up that was largely a distillation of the physical evidence in the case, Mr Darden attempted to charge the jury with an emotional obligation to convict Simpson of 1st degree murder. He characterised the defense as "smoke and mirrors" and likened the jury's predicament in the coming deliberations to saving a baby from a burning house. "That baby is justice and you have a commitment to baby justice."

Earlier Mr Darden painted a chilling picture of Simpson as a man whose rage and jealousy was always under the surface. He stalked, beat and humiliated Nicole Brown until, spurned by both her and his current girlfriend, Paula Barbieri, on the afternoon of 12 June 1994 his fuse finally burnt down. Mr Darden reminded the jury that police called to an incident in 1989 had found Nicole Brown, then married to Simpson, hysterical and hiding in the bushes of his Rockingham estate. Falling into the arms of an officer she cried repeatedly that Simpson was going to kill her.

The court saw photographs of Nicole Brown's bruised and scarred face that she had stored in a bank deposit box which, he surmised, she had placed there as a roadmap for authorities to uncover what she already knew would be her fate.

The court also heard the replay of a taped emergency 911 call in October 1993 in which Simpson can be heard screaming and breaking through the back door of her house. On a second tape, recorded in 1989, Nicole Brown can be heard being hit by the defendant.

Mr Darden suggested a double rejection on the day of the murders prompted his decision to kill; he could not reach Paula Barbieri, who had left to stay with singer Michael Bolton in Las Vegas without telling him and Nicole Brown had not invited him to a dinner she had arranged for her family after a school dance recital of their daughter, Sidney.

The prosecution ended its closing arguments at lunchtime and lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran began his closing arguments in the afternoon.

Invoking the wisdom of Cicero and Abraham Lincoln, Mr Cochran laid out the parameters of defense's closing arguments by the question: "Have you ever been falsely accused of something?" He urged the jury not to compromise and warned them that this was not a case for the timid. He accused the police of rushing to judge Simpson a suspect, of bungling the collection of evidence and of allowing their investigation to be infected by a dishonest and corrupt detective.