Witness: Fuhrman Said Blacks Should Die -- Simpson Trial Jury Hears Testimony Containing Epithets
LOS ANGELES - Choking back tears, a woman testified today in O.J. Simpson's trial that Mark Fuhrman told her in their first conversation that he wanted to kill black people and that interracial romance disgusted him.
Another witness followed to recount a similarly uncomfortable encounter with Fuhrman.
The prosecution gently cross-examined Kathleen Bell and Natalie Singer for just over five minutes each.
Bell denied suggestions from prosecutor Christopher Darden that, despite her revulsion at Fuhrman's comments, she still introduced him to one of her girlfriends and sat next to him in a bar.
"I would never do that," she said.
At first, about half the jurors were taking notes, but as Bell continued, all of them had their heads down, writing on tablets in their laps.
Singer, who met Fuhrman because her roommate was dating his partner, said the first time she met Fuhrman, he used a racial epithet.
Darden clashed with defense attorney F. Lee Bailey in a heated argument out of the jury's presence about whether Singer could testify that she heard Fuhrman use the racial epithet.
"They realize that Fuhrman is lying in his teeth and these people are telling the truth and they're stuck with it. That wasn't a legal argument he gave, that's tucking your tail between your legs and trying to get out of here," Bailey said of Darden's arguments about Singer.
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito ruled that Singer could testify.
Simpson, 48, has pleaded not guilty to the June 12, 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
As the defense launched its case-climaxing bid to portray Fuhrman as a racist and a liar, Bell testified that she met the police detective at a Marine recruiting office in 1985 or 1986 and that she was initially attracted to him.
"I thought that he was handsome," she said.
"What happened when you mentioned the name Marcus Allen to Mark Fuhrman?" Bailey asked.
"His demeanor changed and his attitude toward me changed. . . . He said that if, when he sees a black man with a white woman driving in a car he pulls them over," she testified.
"I was taken aback a little bit, and so I kind of paused, and I looked at the Marines and I just said, well, what if they didn't do anything wrong?" she said.
"He said he'd find something," she said of Fuhrman's response.
It was the first testimony jurors had heard in a week.
Fuhrman has denied meeting Bell or her friend Andrea Terry.
When asked why she called authorities and wrote a letter after seeing television news on the Simpson slayings, Bell said:
"I didn't want someone to be tried without all the information, and I thought that there might be some reason that they need to know that Mark Fuhrman said these things to me."
"I felt that I was hurting the Goldman family and the Brown family," Bell said during a news conference after her testimony.
Last week, Ito said he would allow jurors to hear two relatively innocuous snippets from taped interviews that Fuhrman granted to screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny from 1985 to 1994. In those tapes, Fuhrman uses the racial epithet 41 times. But jurors haven't heard the tapes.
The defense hasn't said whether it will use the two excerpts. But with or without them, Simpson's lawyers are going after Fuhrman this week.
Lead defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. said earlier: "We're going to end on a high note. . . . Everyone says Mark Fuhrman did not have the opportunity to plant the glove. We are going to show that he did."
As jurors were about to enter the courtroom today, a black woman with a courtroom pass walked to the front of the spectator area with a large envelope in her hand, held it aloft and said in a loud voice, "Judge Ito, Judge Ito, I have a message for you from God. God wants you to play the tapes."
Ito looked but didn't respond, and the woman was quickly escorted out.
After the defense rests, the prosecution gets to put on a rebuttal case, which could last two weeks.
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