On the surface, the bloody glove that LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman found on the property of OJ Simpson on June 13, 1994 appears to be very incriminating, however appearances alone cannot reveal the complete story of the Rockingham glove; forensic science can. Episode 23 of OJ Simpson: Fact or Fiction? is all about the forensics of the bloody glove found on the Rockingham estate owned by OJ Simpson. Is the bloody glove the smoking gun that proves OJ Simpson’s guilt? Or do the forensics point to a more sinister episode with the right handed glove?
The Scientific Investigation Division (SID) of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) – aka LAPD crime lab – prides itself as being America’s first crime lab; however by the 1990’s it had devolved into one of America’s worst crime labs.
Perhaps the most significant reform resulting from California v. Simpson is the complete overhaul of the LAPD SID. In December 1998, the Los Angeles Times reported:
After spending millions of dollars to restore its credibility and improve its ability to analyze evidence, the Los Angeles Police Department’s much-maligned crime lab has received national accreditation, LAPD officials announced Wednesday.
The long-sought accreditation places the LAPD’s crime lab among the country’s top facilities, city officials said.
Established in 1923, the LAPD crime lab was the first such laboratory in the nation. Although it was a cutting-edge facility for many years, the lab’s reputation took a severe beating several years ago during the O.J. Simpson murder trial when defense attorneys attacked the quality and professionalism of the lab’s work.
That trial helped shed light on the lab’s antiquated equipment and its criminalists’ tremendous workloads.
“Poor equipment, inadequate facilities and insufficient personnel are all unacceptable and were in need of remedy,” said City Councilwoman Laura Chick, chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee.
Mayor Richard Riordan, who has made it a priority of his administration to better equip the lab, said the “public deserves nothing less” than an “elite” facility.
Since 1995, the LAPD has added 32 employees for the lab, spent about $500,000 on new training programs, and invested about $3 million in facility and equipment upgrades. Those upgrades ranged from smoke alarms and emergency eye-wash stations to high-tech equipment used for analyzing DNA and identifying drugs in blood and urine.
To comprehend the significance of the issues that Mr. Simpson’s defense team shined a light on, one must grasp the realities of LAPD’s SID in 1994. Those who place the blame criminalists Dennis Fung, Andrea Mazzola and/or Collin Yamauchi are misguided; they are simply the product of the division’s management.
On June 13, 1994, when LAPD began their investigation into the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, criminalists had not been trained in the collection and preservation of evidence for DNA testing. As we know, this resulted in nearly all of the blood evidence from the Bundy crime scene being completely degraded.
Earlier in 1994 LAPD’s SID implemented an in-house DNA testing program using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. In 1994, PCR was the newest method of DNA testing – in 1993, Dr. Kary Mullis had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his invention of the PCR method. The PCR method requires just one-half of one nanogram of DNA (whereas the more reliable RFLP test requires 25 to 50 nanograms of DNA). In the PCR method, that tiny amount of DNA is then amplified by one-million to create much more DNA from the tiny sample. PCR is exquisitely sensitive and highly susceptible to contamination.
The LAPD SID was the epitome of a culture of carelessness: No clear set of policies and procedures, criminalists not trained in the collection and preservation of DNA evidence, criminalists working in the lab were overwhelmed with work and forced to rush through their analysis of the evidence with little to no supervision.
The simple fact that OJ Simpson’s DNA was found in the reference blood samples of both Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman should make it clear that the culture of carelessness was thriving in the SID in 1994.
The bloody glove found on the property of OJ Simpson contained a total of 27 nanograms of DNA consistent with OJ Simpson. (Note: The glove found at the Bundy murder scene contained 0 nanograms of OJ Simpson’s DNA) Those 27 nanograms were all found in the notch area of the Rockingham glove; this is the same area that criminalist Collin Yamauchi wrote his initials on the glove after getting blood from OJ Simpson’s reference blood sample onto his lab gloves (and potentially onto the table at his workstation).
Per the testimony of prosecution witness Gary Sims of the California Department of Justice, one-drop of blood contains between 500 – 1,000 nanograms of DNA.
27 nanograms of DNA is such a tiny amount. If one considers the following facts:
- The culture of carelessness in the crime lab;
- None of OJ Simpson’s DNA being found in areas of the Rockingham glove that it should have if he was cut as the prosecution contends;
- Criminalist Collin Yamauchi’s testimony that he spilled OJ Simpson’s reference blood sample immediately prior to handling the bloody glove found on the property of OJ Simpson
- All of the DNA consistent with OJ Simpson was found in the area of the glove that Collin Yamauchi wrote his initials
It becomes clear that it is extremely unlikely the DNA consistent with OJ Simpson found on the Rockingham glove was excreted directly from Mr. Simpson onto the glove, rather it is highly likely that those 27 nanograms were transferred from criminalist Collin Yamauchi’s lab gloves onto the Rockingham glove.
With that, we hope you enjoy episode 23 of OJ Simpson: Fact or Fiction?
We Welcome Your Feedback
Feel free to contact the author of this article using the various options to connect with us which can be found at the top of this page. Follow Brian Heiss on Twitter @BrianHeiss