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O.J. Simpson Sues for Browns’ Telephone Records

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

O.J. Simpson claims that records of phone calls between his ex-wife and her mother on the night Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered can clear him of having any role in the stabbing deaths of her and Ronald L. Goldman.

Simpson is asking a judge in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to order GTE Corp. to turn over the phone records of his former in-laws, Lou and Juditha Brown. The suit was filed, Simpson said, after attempts to obtain copies of the phone records from the Los Angeles courts, prosecutors and members of his own “dream team” of criminal defense lawyers failed.

In court papers, Simpson claims he needs the records to clear up discrepancies in statements by witnesses about the times when the phone conversations occurred. Those estimates ranged from 9:37 to 11 p.m. the night of the murders, his court papers say.

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If the women talked on the phone at 11 p.m., Simpson claims, he has an ironclad alibi: He was riding in a limousine to Los Angeles International Airport to catch a flight to Chicago.

“It’s completely bogus,” said attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli, who represented Ronald Goldman’s father in a civil action against Simpson. “The evidence from Day 1 has been, through records and witness testimony, that Nicole Brown Simpson last spoke to her mother well before 10 p.m.”

Simpson’s suit states that his latest lawyers subpoenaed the phone records a year ago in connection with the appeal of a $33.5-million civil verdict holding him legally liable for the June 12, 1994, stabbing deaths of Nicole Simpson and Goldman. But GTE refused to hand over the phone records, Simpson’s suit claims, unless he produced a court order and written consent from the Browns.

A GTE spokeswoman said the phone company was complying with California laws that protect customers’ privacy. The spokeswoman, Sharon Cohen-Hagar, said GTE “will vigorously defend its proper handling of subscriber records and will continue to comply with all relevant laws, including court orders.”

She added that Simpson already had attempted, without success, to obtain the records through legal proceedings in federal court in Texas.

The federal suit alleges civil rights violations and seeks an injunction ordering that the phone records be turned over to Simpson. Court papers say the phone records “are the most crucial, relevant exculpatory evidence that is essential to the complete exoneration” of Simpson.

It also has been impossible to obtain the records from other sources, said Thomas Johnson, an investigator working on Simpson’s appeal.

“Simpson has attempted to get them from the dream team and they wouldn’t give them to him,” Johnson said. The courts have released them as the “personal property” of William Hodgman of the district attorney’s office, he added.

Simpson was acquitted in Los Angeles of two counts of murder. However, he was found civilly liable for the deaths after the trial of a wrongful-death case in Santa Monica. But the $33.5-million verdict has proved to be virtually uncollectable.

Simpson claims that the Browns, who dined with their daughter Nicole at Brentwood’s Mezzaluna restaurant the night she was killed, have refused to release their phone records to him.

Juditha Brown, who left her eyeglasses at the restaurant, telephoned Nicole shortly before her death.

While there was testimony about the call at Simpson’s criminal and civil trials, the actual phone records were never admitted into evidence, his court papers claim.

“The determination of the time of their last phone conversation is essential to the complete exoneration of Simpson,” the suit states.

Simpson contends that it would have been impossible for the Browns to have driven from Brentwood to their home in Dana Point by 9:37 p.m., when some testimony indicates the call was placed. And if the call was placed at 11 p.m., as other testimony indicates, Simpson was already on the way to the airport.

Simpson’s suit claims the phone records will help him in his appeal and in his custody battle with the Browns involving his children, Sydney and Justin.


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