Maid Backs Up O.j. Simpson's Alibi She Says The Bronco Was At His Mansion

Posted: February 28, 1995

LOS ANGELES — The only known witness to support O.J. Simpson's murder-night alibi testified on videotape yesterday that Simpson's Ford Bronco was parked at the curb outside his mansion at the time his ex-wife and her friend were being slain two miles away.

Speaking through an interpreter of Spanish, Rosa Lopez, a former maid to Simpson's next-door neighbor, said she was walking the owners' golden retriever shortly after 10 p.m. June 12 when she looked toward the street outside the Simpson estate.

"Were you able to see any cars parked out on Rockingham there?" defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. asked.

"Si," said the El Salvador native, whose testimony was taped so it could be played later for jurors if she leaves the country. " . . . El Bronco blanco" - the white Bronco.

Although she wasn't wearing a watch, she said, she looked at a bedroom clock before leaving her guest room to walk the retriever.

Lopez also testified about hearing suspicious men's voices and the sound of a barking dog outside Simpson's estate beginning around midnight - after Simpson had left town on a red-eye flight to Chicago.

Lopez said she recounted the suspicious noises to a detective who knocked on her door the next morning as police converged on Simpson's estate looking for clues to the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman.

But she said the detective did not write down anything and failed to send other officers over to take her statement, as he had promised.

Asked the detective's name, Lopez indicated it was Mark Fuhrman - though she twice mispronounced his name, first calling him "Mike Fuhrman" and later ''Mark Frayman."

When Cochran tried to clarify, Lopez told him impatiently: "I can't pronounce it very well. You can pronounce it better than I can."

Lopez's testimony - dismissed as incredible by prosecutors - is considered crucial to the defense. Not only does the housekeeper seem to corroborate Simpson's alibi that he was at home when the killings occurred, but she also supports the defense contention Fuhrman deliberately ignored clues pointing to other suspects as part of a conspiracy to frame the former sports star.

Defense lawyers have suggested Fuhrman planted a bloody glove on Simpson's property out of racial animus and a desire to further his career.

Though prosecutors did not get a chance to cross-examine Lopez, her credibility will be sharply questioned when she returns today, especially contradictions between two statements she gave the defense.

Yesterday, prosecutors charged the defense purposely withheld a second statement, in which Lopez made no mention of the Bronco. After Lopez had been excused, a defense investigator admitted he had tape-recorded the undisclosed interview. The judge ordered the investigator to produce it today.

Yesterday, before Lopez testified, defense lawyers filed court papers exploring new allegations against the white detective, suggesting that he had been seen with a Nazi swastika at work and had told colleagues that "he knew

Nicole Brown Simpson personally, or was familiar with her anatomy."

Offering no specifics, Simpson's lawyers asked Judge Lance Ito yesterday to

allow the defense to review police and personnel files detailing the allegations, which they said had been investigated recently by the Internal Affairs Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. Defense lawyers also sought access to police files relating to allegations that Fuhrman had planted evidence in the case.

Ito, who has previously denied the defense the use of Fuhrman's personnel files, put off until Friday a ruling on the requests.

Lopez, returning to the stand yesterday, looked more rested and relaxed than she had Friday, when prosecutors grilled her for hours about her threat to flee the country to escape media attention in the case.

Born in El Salvador, Lopez described herself as the middle of 10 children. She said she left school at age 10 because her family was too poor to buy notebooks and pencils and because her labor was needed in the fields, planting corn, beans and rice.

Lopez said she had worked as a housekeeper since coming to the United States in 1969 and had been working for Simpson's next-door neighbors for 2 1/ 2 years last June.

On June 12, Lopez said, she twice saw Simpson's Bronco parked on the curb outside his mansion - once about 8:15 and the second time about two hours later when she took the dog for a walk.

Using glasses borrowed from an attorney, Lopez identified photos of the vehicle and described how both times she saw the Bronco it was parked "a little bit crooked," with its rear end stuck into the street.

Lopez also corroborated other elements of Simpson's account of the evening. She reported seeing him leave the house, in his Rolls-Royce, sometime around 9 p.m. and return about 45 minutes later - corresponding to his trip to McDonald's with houseguest Brian "Kato" Kaelin.

And she said she heard Simpson's voice in his yard about 11 p.m. - corresponding to his departure in an airport limousine.

"Everything was quiet" after that until about midnight, she said, when she "heard men that were talking" and Simpson's dog, which she said "barked and cried" until she went to sleep about 2 a.m.

Asked whether she saw anyone suspicious in Simpson's yard, Lopez said she was "very scared" and "wasn't about to open my window."

The next morning, she said, a detective identifying himself as Fuhrman knocked on her door after 8 a.m. and questioned her briefly. She recounted the conversation verbatim:

"He said, 'Something horrible has happened on the other side.' And I asked him, 'Is Mr. Simpson dead or wounded?'

"He said, 'No, why?'

"I said, 'Because last night very late I heard voices, I heard men that were talking in the back yard.'

"And he asked me if I had heard a woman screaming, and women's voices," Lopez testified. "And I said, 'No, they were men.'

"After that," Lopez said, Fuhrman "told me we are going to send the police so that you can give testimony to the police."

Did the police ever come back? Cochran asked.

"Never," Lopez said. "I am still waiting for them."

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