In a plot twist which would feel right at home in Hollywood, Los Angeles Police confirmed Friday they are testing a knife which reportedly was found years ago on the site of O.J. Simpson’s former Brentwood estate. Investigators said the knife was found by a construction worker and was then given to off-duty officer George Maycott, who kept it rather than turning it over to police.
Maycott’s lawyer says his client reported the knife to the West LA division the night he was given the knife in 2001 or 2002. But the watch commander allegedly told the officer answering the phone that Simpson had been acquitted and there was nothing more they could do. Maycott said he had kept it in a bag in his garage ever since.
“It is being treated as we do all evidence,” said Capt. Andrew Neiman, of the Los Angeles Police. “It has been submitted to our lab. They are going to study it and examine it for all forensics, including serology and DNA.”
Multiple law enforcement sources told NBC News that the knife is an inexpensive small bladed knife, typically carried by construction workers or gardeners, and that it did not appear to be consistent with the weapon used in the murders.
Still, at a time when America’s interest in the case has been stoked anew by an FX miniseries, “People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”, police are leaving nothing to chance. And they would not speculate why the officer had kept the knife for so long.
“I don’t know what the circumstances are,” Neiman said, “why that didn’t happen, or if that’s entirely accurate, or if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go.”
The bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were found outside her home on June 12, 1994. The weapon used in the killings has always been the elusive missing link in the case. But no knife was ever found at the murder scene, or at Simpson’s home. The former football star flew to Chicago within hours of the murders, but a massive search of the woods behind his O’Hare area hotel turned up nothing.
While all parties close to the case are urging caution about the latest revelation, it is at the very least, an intriguing new development in a case which has had more than its share of twists and turns.
“I don’t know what to think about that,” said Chicago attorney Mark Partridge, who sat next to Simpson on a flight back to Los Angeles the morning after the murders. “We of course don’t know if it’s the murder weapon, or has any connection to the murders at all.”
Partridge testified at the trial that Simpson seemed distraught during the four hour flight.
“He commented that he was trying to reach his mother, he was trying to reach people at his house, and he was trying to find out what was going on with his kids,” Partridge recalled. (He said) that he had found out that somebody he loved was dead, and that he had found out that she had been killed in the garden of her house.”
Partridge’s testimony had been key in the trial, because he recalled seeing a cut on Simpson’s hand.
“I noticed that he had a cut on the middle finger of his left hand,” Partridge said. “He had it wrapped in a piece of paper towel.”
Another witness testified that the cut was not there on the flight to Chicago. Simpson insisted he had cut it on a broken glass in his Chicago hotel room.
The jury in Simpson’s trial acquitted him after deliberating for only four hours. In 1997, a civil court found him liable for the slayings and awarded $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families.
The Brentwood mansion was torn down after Simpson moved to Florida after his acquittal. No matter what the results of the tests, he cannot be charged again with the murders.
“Double jeopardy would be in place here,” Neiman said. “We could not charge Mr. Simpson with the homicides he’s already been charged with, because he was acquitted.”
The family of victim Ronald Goldman released a statement, warning that the validity of the knife is purely speculative.
“We cannot validate every claim with a discussion,” the statement said. “It only creates more unnecessary hype, and encourages the media circus.”
Sources told NBC News that the knife does not appear to have been buried for the length of time which would place it in the period of the slayings. But those same sources cautioned that it was necessary to fully test the knife to either rule it in or out as a possible murder weapon.
Partridge, a Chicago trademark attorney, says even now, he has never formed an opinion about Simpson’s guilt or innocence.
“In the criminal case the state did not prove that he was guilty,” he said. “In the civil case, where the burden of proof was different, they found that he was liable. And I don’t have any reason to doubt that one way or another.”