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THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER TRIAL

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UCLA Law School professor Peter Arenella and Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson offer their take on the Simpson trial. Joining them is former Los Angeles District Attorney Ira Reiner, who will rotate with other experts as the case moves forward. Today’s topic: Just when did Nicole’s Akita start barking?

PETER ARENELLA

On the defense: “Pushing the time of the murders closer to 11 p.m. will create reasonable doubt. A couple who were more interested in the time than in each other heard no dog wailing before 10:35, and a neighbor heard two men arguing near Nicole’s condo at 10:40. If the prosecution’s timeline crumbles, so might their mountain of physical evidence.”

On the prosecution: “Hoisted on their own petard! Prosecutors used a wailing dog to pinpoint the time of the murders at 10:15 to 10:20 pm. But the murders could have occurred at 10:10 and the dog might not have discovered the bodies until after 10:30. Whether the dog started wailing at 10:20 or 10:40 shouldn’t matter, given the physical evidence, but it does now.”

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LAURIE LEVENSON

On the defense: “Push that timeline! After demeanor witnesses, the defense went to barking dogs. A couple on their first date did not see or hear anything unusual, but were they really paying attention? As for the others, they also did not hear anything until after 10:30 p.m., narrowing the window of opportunity for O.J. to commit the crimes.”

On the prosecution: “At first Marcia Clark seemed too harsh. After all, none of the defense witnesses really took a good look down the pathway or eliminated the possibility that O.J. committed the crimes. But sometimes Clark hit the mark, especially with Denise Pilnak, a witness who wears two watches but gave the wrong times to police and the press.”

IRA REINER

On the defense: “They successfully created reasonable doubt on time of death. That shouldn’t be especially significant. But it takes on exaggerated importance because the prosecutors dug a hole for themselves by being unnecessarily precise: They wedded themselves to a 10:15 to 10:20 time frame to give O.J. an extra 15 minutes to get rid of the bloody clothes.”

On the prosecution: “Another self-inflicted wound. If they hadn’t tried to be so precise, they could have lived with 10:35 or 10:40 as the time of death. But they were reduced to trying to make liars out of the defense’s timeline witnesses. The witnesses may have been right or wrong, but Marcia Clark didn’t come close to proving they were liars.”

Compiled by HENRY WEINSTEIN / Los Angeles Times

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