Expert Chips at Simpson Autopsy Testimony

Article excerpt

An expert witness for O.J. Simpson disputed prosecution autopsy testimony Thursday, concluding that Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman fought fiercely for their lives and took longer to die than the coroner contends.

Dr. Michael Baden, a well-known forensic pathologist, also talked about cuts on Simpson's left hand. For the first time, he gave jurors Simpson's explanation of why his blood might have dripped on his property.

In giving his opinions about the murders, Baden said Simpson's ex-wife was probably not unconscious on the ground when her throat was slit and had injuries on her hands consistent with defensive wounds.

"When she received the final wound, she was 18 inches off the ground," Baden said, citing the way blood spurted onto the steps of Nicole Simpson's condominium walkway.

The county coroner testified earlier that the murders happened quickly and that she was probably hit on the head and incapacitated when her assailant pulled her head back by the hair and slit her throat.

"My opinion is she struggled with the assailant or assailants prior to succumbing when her neck was cut," Baden told jurors, who took many notes during his testimony. "There were nine or 10 cut or stab wounds on her body before she suffered the fatal injuries."

He also said Goldman's wounds indicated a struggle, and it could have taken 10 to 20 minutes for him to die - an attack on the prosecution's tight timeline for the June 12, 1994, murders. He also said Goldman's knuckle bruises indicated he had punched his killer.

The defense has displayed photos of Simpson's nearly unscathed body in the days after the killings, saying they prove that he didn't commit the murders because the attacker or attackers would have been wounded during the fight.

Prosecution experts, however, contend that Goldman was quickly "caged" in a small area outside the condominium and probably hurt his hands while he was flailing about.

Prosecutor Brian Kelberg challenged Baden's conclusion that a cut on Simpson's knuckle was caused by broken glass, not a knife. Baden held to that opinion, although he conceded that other small cuts could have been caused by the sharp tip of a knife. …

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