O.J. Simpson's defense introduced the idea today that the glove and the knit cap also might have been planted at the murder scene, as attorney Robert C. Baker cross-examined Tom Lange, the retired detective who was one of the leaders of the murder investigation. That suspicion was never raised in the criminal trial, when Simpson's defense tried virtually every other angle to suggest that police framed O.J.

Baker suggested that the glove and hat should have been dirtier than they were for lying in soft soil. Not that Baker got very far today with Lange on the theory. "Certainly not," the ex-cop responded when asked if he gave any credence to the possibility that they were planted.

Baker also covered the surprisingly slow pace at which police collected blood evidence. The murder was on June 12, 1994--the blood droplets on the rear gate weren't collected by criminalists until July 3. "I would call that careless," Lange said. The defense contends that police had time to plant the blood sample (which matched Simpson's DNA) in the interval.

After Lange's testimony, the plaintiffs' attorneys pulled a surprise maneuver. They called the other lead detective on the case, Philip Vannatter, but only questioned him for 13 minutes--and only about why he carried Simpson's blood sample from downtown L.A. to the murder scene instead of booking it in the nearby police crime lab.

The defense team in the criminal trial used Vannatter's curious behavior to suggest that someone in the police, perhaps Vannatter, had taken some of O.J.'s blood sample and planted it on the back gate. Vannatter had a simple explanation today: He wanted to hand the sample directly to the criminalist on the scene.

On cross examination, Baker tried to ask Vannatter if he had ever carried a blood vial to a crime scene before. But the judge sustained an objection that the question was irrelevant because it was not an issue raised by the plaintiffs.

Baker accused the plaintiffs of limiting questions to Vannatter in order to force the defense to spend the money to bring him back (he's now retired in Indiana) for testimony about other issues besides his driving habits.

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