Judge Lance Ito's wife has nothing relevant to add to the O.J. Simpson trial, another judge ruled Friday, which keeps Ito on the case and resolves an emotional conflict-of-interest dispute set off by the inflammatory Mark Fuhrman tapes.
The ruling by Superior Court Judge John Reid came as the tape-recorded Fuhrman interviews continued to rock the Simpson trial, with jurors presumably totally unaware. No testimony was heard Friday, and the jury was sent to the beach. Among the developments:- The police chief joined the police citizen oversight board in demanding immediate access to the tapes, in which Fuhrman reportedly spouts racial epithets, speaks of framing and beating suspects and derides his former supervisor, Capt. Margaret York, who is Ito's wife. The tapes are under a court order that limits access to only a few people, and prosecutors had asked police officials to wait until the trial ended before pursuing an investigation.
- A 1978 police brutality case in Los Angeles appears to match elements of Fuhrman's reported description of officers taking bloody revenge on gang members suspected of shooting two policemen.
- Civil rights activists called for a federal investigation into the incidents Fuhrman describes on the tapes.
At the center of the storm are a dozen hours of interviews with Fuhrman recorded sporadically from 1985 through 1994 by North Carolina screenwriting professor Laura Hart McKinny for a project on the Los Angeles police.
The defense wants to use the tapes to discredit Fuhrman and bolster its contention Fuhrman is a racist cop who planted evidence.
Fuhrman, now retired, testified in March about finding a bloody glove behind Simpson's house the morning after the June 12, 1994, knife murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Simpson has pleaded not guilty.
After it was disclosed Fuhrman made disparaging comments about Ito's wife, Reid was appointed to review the tapes and determine whether Ito's wife had anything relevant to offer at trial. Prosecutors had suggested they might need to call York to rebut some of Fuhrman's claims on the tapes, forcing Ito to step down for conflict of interest.
After listening to the tapes, Reid said he heard nothing that would warrant calling York.
"There is no reasonable expectation that Capt. Margaret York . . . could give relevant evidence in regards to any issue before the court," Reid wrote in a two-page ruling.
As Reid ruled, police officials held news conferences to comment on the tapes and reveal that at least one of Fuhrman's most brutal tales could be partially corroborated. Police Chief Willie Williams said the tapes must be handed over to police officials immediately and not disseminated in the form of news leaks and comments.
The Police Commission, in a letter to the city attorney requesting "all formal assistance" to get the tapes, said police officials need to review the recordings for the good of the city.