Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Evidence Gathering Adds Complications to Simpson's Case

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Evidence Gathering Adds Complications to Simpson's Case

Article excerpt

In lawyer-speak, it's called "the fruit of the poisoned tree," and it constitutes any evidence gained as a result of an improper search-and-seizure action by police.

When the O.J. Simpson preliminary hearing was adjourned Friday, a tantalizing question was left hanging over the holiday weekend: Whether or not the so-called tree of evidence growing in this case was poisoned by police - who scaled the wall of Simpson's Brentwood estate the evening Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered.

The defense motion to suppress blood and other physical evidence taken from Simpson's home is scheduled to be argued Tuesday.

Most legal experts interviewed last week said that judges generally are very reluctant to dismiss evidence in a murder case. But they admitted that Simpson's attorney, Robert Shapiro, has raised a legitimate legal question about whether police violated Simpson's constitutional rights when they scaled a brick wall at 5 a.m. on June 13 to notify him that his former wife had been found slashed to death.

If so, they said, any evidence gained during that search - and resulting from things found during the search - would be considered compromised.

John Burris, a leading California attorney who represented Rodney King in his civil case against police there, said, "Once you poison the tree, then all the fruit that comes from the tree is poisoned." Though he acknowledged that the motion has merits, he said it was unlikely the judge would grant it.

Simpson's estate is enclosed by a brick wall, with the entrance secured by two electronically controlled iron gates. A police statement said that detectives first tried to contact the occupants of the house through an intercom system at the gate. They then tried by telephone but got a tape-recorded message.

According to an affidavit by Philip Vannatter, a lead investigator in the case, detectives went to Simpson's home and saw what appeared to be human blood on the driver-side door handle of Simpson's white Ford Bronco, which was parked at the curb on the west side of his home.

The statement says that police roused Simpson's daughter, Arnell Simpson, who told them her father wasn't home. …

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