Friday, November 20, 2009

O.J. Simpson's Rockingham Gate

According to the prosecution, Simpson was last seen in public at 9:36 p.m. that evening when he returned to the front gate of his house with Brian 'Kato' Kaelin, a bit-part actor and family friend who lived on the property of Simpson's estate, after the pair ate at a nearby McDonald's. Simpson was not seen again until 10:54 p.m., an hour and 18 minutes later, when he came out of the front door of his house to a waiting limousine hired to take him to LAX Airport to fly to a Hertz convention in Chicago. Both the defense and prosecution agreed that the murders took place between 10:15 and 10:40 p.m., with the prosecution saying that Simpson drove his white Bronco the five minutes to and from the murder scene. They presented a witness in the area of Bundy Drive who saw a car similar to Simpson's Bronco speeding away from the area at 10:35 p.m.
According to his testimony, limousine driver Allan Park arrived at Simpson's estate at 10:25 p.m. Driving past the Rockingham gate, he did not see Simpson's white Bronco parked at the curb. Park testified that he had been looking for and had seen the house number, and the prosecution presented exhibits to show that the position in which the Bronco was found the next morning was right next to the house number (implying that Park would surely have noticed the Bronco if it had been there at that time). According to Simpson's version of events, the Bronco had been parked in that position for several hours. Meanwhile, Kato Kaelin was on the phone to his friend, Rachel Ferrara. Park parked opposite the Ashford gate, then drove back to the Rockingham gate to check which driveway would have the best access for the limo. Deciding that the Rockingham entrance was too tight, he returned to the Ashford gate and began to buzz the intercom at 10:40, getting no response. He then made a series of calls to his boss's (Dale St.John) pager and then to his home, trying to get Simpson's home number. At approximately 10:50, Kato Kaelin (who was still on the phone to Rachel Ferrara) heard three thumps against the outside wall of his guest house. He ventured outside to investigate but decided not to venture directly down the dark south pathway. Instead he walked to the front of the property where he saw Allan Park's limousine outside the gate.

At the same time Park saw Kaelin come from the back of the property to the front, he saw "a tall black man" of Simpson's height and build enter the front door of the house, after which lights went on and Simpson finally answered Park's call, explaining that he had overslept and would be at the front gate soon. Kaelin opened the front gate to let Park onto the estate grounds. Both Kaelin and Park helped Simpson put his belongings in the trunk of the limo for the ride to the airport, where both remarked that Simpson looked agitated. But other witnesses, such as the ticket clerk at LAX who checked Simpson onto the plane and a few others, testified that Simpson looked and acted perfectly normal. Conflicting testimony such as this was to be a recurring theme through the trial.Simpson's claim that he was asleep at the time of the murders was replaced by a series of different stories. According to the defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran, Simpson had never left his house that night and that he was alone in his house packing to travel to Chicago. Cochran claims that Simpson went outside to hit a few golf balls into the children's sandbox in the front garden, one or more of which made the three loud thumps on the wall of Kaelin's bungalow. Cochran produced a potential alibi witness, Rosa Lopez, a neighbor's Spanish-speaking housekeeper who testified that she had seen Simpson's car parked outside his house at the time of the murders. But Lopez's testimony, which was not presented to the jury, was pulled apart under cross-examination when she was forced to admit that she could not be sure of the precise time she saw Simpson's white Bronco outside his house.

-- wiki

The house in Brentwood where the former football star once lived was long ago bought and flattened, replaced by a Mediterranean with a new address, sky-high hedges and a sign on the door warning, “Dog on Property.”

Some of the tourist maps to stars’ addresses no longer show Mr. Simpson’s home.

-- Jennifer Steinhauer - Los Angeles Journal

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