An exasperated Judge Lance Ito abruptly recessed O.J. Simpson's murder trial Wednesday after prosecutors attempted to introduce photographs of hair and fiber evidence that had not previously been shown to the defense.
The photos were mounted on large boards prosecutors have put together to illustrate testimony by their next witness, FBI special agent Doug Deedrick. He is the forensic expert who analyzed the hairs and fibers the prosecution says link Simpson to the June 12, 1994, slayings of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
However, as Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark prepared to call Deedrick to the stand, defense lawyers got their first look at the graphic boards and exploded into objections.
"They have committed a deliberate discovery violation of the worst kind," said defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, who will cross-examine Deedrick. He asked Ito to bar prosecutors from displaying the boards to the jury.
Although defense experts did have several chances to study the fibers themselves, Bailey said, the photos formed a separate body of evidence that the defense needed time to examine. Withholding the photos, which were taken last December, from them for months on end, Bailey said, was tantamount to saying "because you visited the crime scene in person, you're not entitled to see the photos of the crime scene" presented to the jury.
Arguing that Ito should bar the prosecution from showing the photos at all, Bailey said it would take his team a long time to properly study them.
After listening to considerable back and forth between Bailey and Clark, Ito recessed the proceedings until Thursday morning, but ordered that the boards be left in the courtroom so that Simpson and his attorneys could examine them. The judge also instructed Deedrick to remain behind to answer defense questions.
"I'm going to direct the prosecution to make all of these exhibits available to the defense overnight," Ito said. "If that is still not adequate time to prepare and to compare the reports with those fibers, then I'll consider other sanctions. I would like to finish this case sometime this lifetime."
The defense objections to the illustrative boards were wide-ranging and went beyond the timing of their introduction.
The primary source of concern, however, seemed to be photos of blue-black cotton fibers recovered from Goldman's bloody shirt and the socks seized from Simpson's bedroom and the glove found on the former football star's estate. One of the fibers found on Goldman's shirt was wrapped around one of Nicole Simpson's bloody hairs.