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Prosecutors in Simpson Case Introduce DNAEvidence

Los Angeles Times

More than three months after promising jurors that DNA test results would connect O.J. Simpson to a pair of bloody homicides, prosecutors began the task Monday of presenting that crucial evidence, opening the most important phase of their case with a brief seminar on genetics.

Dr. Robin Cotton, director of the nation's largest private DNA laboratory, began her testimony by delivering a basic primer on how DNA works, peppering her lecture with a series of metaphors intended to illuminate the scientifically dense topic. At various points, Cotton compared DNA to an alphabet, a thread, a zipper, a pair of interwoven ribbons, a chapter in the genetic book that is the chromosome and a blueprint for human development similar to the plans for erecting a building.

"If we make the assumption that a blueprint contains all the information for how to build your house," she said, "the analogy is that DNA contains all the information on how to build you."

Though she did not describe any results of DNA tests performed by her laboratory in this case, prosecutors say those results will reveal a trail of blood linking Simpson to the murder scene - showing that blood with some of his genetic characteristics was at the scene and that blood apparently from both victims, Ronald Lyle Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, was found inside his car and at his Brentwood estate.

Simpson has pleaded not guilty to the June 12, 1994, killings, and his legal team is prepared to mount an aggressive challenge to the DNA evidence.

Looking directly at jurors and speaking in a soft, clear voice, Cotton illustrated her testimony Monday with neatly drawn charts on sheets of butcher-block paper. She told jurors that degradation of DNA samples never would cause a sample to falsely point to a suspect, a notion that defense attorneys have hinted at for weeks.

Senate Republicans Scale Back Product Liability Legislation

Los Angeles Times

Senate Republican leaders, chastened by dissent within their own party over a bill to overhaul product liability statutes, on Monday agreed to a compromise measure that would substantially scale back an ambitious first draft of the reform legislation.

The new proposal, hammered out by Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., and Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., would limit the punitive awards that juries could give plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits to two times their compensatory damages, or $250,000, whichever is greater.

At the same time, it would give judges discretion to hand out larger awards, although in such cases, a defendant would be entitled to receive a new trial.

Finally, in cases where small businesses are defendants, the compromise bill would limit punitive damages to twice compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is lesser, giving judges no discretion. The measure, which Rockefeller predicted would win "very broad support," is to be voted on Tuesday.

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Volume 115, Number 24.
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