Mark Fuhrman in Jacksonville, NC (2008)
February 5, 1952 |
Eatonville, Washington, U.S.
|Department||Los Angeles Police Department|
|Years of service||1975–1995|
|Rank||Sworn in as an Officer – 1975
– Detective – 1985
|Other work||author, radio host|
Mark Fuhrman (born February 5, 1952) is a former detective of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). He is primarily known for his part in the investigation of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman and his subsequent felony conviction for perjury. He has written true crime books and hosted talk radio.
Fuhrman was born in Eatonville, Washington and attended Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor, Washington. In 1970, at age 18, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he was trained as a machine gunner and military policeman. He served in Vietnam and was honorably discharged in 1975, having attained the rank of sergeant. Later that year, he graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy. Fuhrman was promoted to detective in 1989. He served as a police officer for 20 years, earning more than 55 commendations before his retirement in 1995. As a result of his felony perjury conviction he is banned from serving as a police officer again in most states. Fuhrman has married and divorced three times, Barbara L. Koop from 1973 to 1977, Janet Ellen Sosbee from 1977 to 1980, and Caroline Lody from the early 1980s to 2000. The marriage to Lody produced two children, a daughter Haley and a son Cole.
Role in O.J. Simpson murder trial
Fuhrman stated he found a blood-stained glove at Nicole Brown Simpson's condo (the scene of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman), and another at Simpson's home. He also claimed to have seen a number of blood drops and smears at Simpson's home and in his vehicle. He entered Simpson's estate without a search warrant due to exigent circumstances -– specifically, concern that Simpson himself might have been harmed. Soon after the preliminary hearing in the O. J. Simpson murder case, Simpson's defense team alleged that Fuhrman planted the glove found at Simpson's Brentwood estate as part of a racially motivated effort to frame Simpson for the murders.
As part of their defense, Simpson's attorneys questioned Fuhrman about his alleged prior use of racist terms. The prosecution tried to stop the defense from pursuing this line of questioning by arguing that it was too inflammatory and could prejudice the predominantly black jury against them. The California Evidence Code gives the trial judge the discretion to exclude evidence if its relevance to the case is substantially outweighed by the danger of undue prejudice to either the prosecution or the defense. Judge Lance Ito initially ruled that there had to be some evidence that Fuhrman planted the glove before the defense could question Fuhrman on prior use of racial slurs. Eventually, Judge Ito allowed the defense to cross-examine Fuhrman on the issue of his alleged racial animosity.
During cross-examination, Fuhrman, when asked by defense attorney F. Lee Bailey whether he had used the word "nigger", said he hadn't used the word in 10 years. The defense produced four witnesses to establish that Fuhrman had used the word "nigger" more recently, as well as an audiotape contradicting his testimony. This testimony eventually resulted in a perjury conviction. In one 1985 recording, Fuhrman had given a taped interview to Laura Hart McKinny, a writer working on a screenplay about female police officers. In another interview, he had talked about gang members and was quoted as saying, "Yeah we work with niggers and gangs. You can take one of these niggers, drag 'em into the alley and beat the shit out of them and kick them. You can see them twitch. It really relieves your tension." He went on to say "we had them begging that they'd never be gang members again, begging us." He said that he would tell them, "You do what you're told, understand, nigger?"
With the jury absent on September 6, 1995, the defense asked Fuhrman whether he had ever falsified police reports or if he had planted or manufactured evidence in the Simpson case. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. His words on the tapes resulted in him being widely condemned nationally, and even by the prosecution.
After the trial, there was widespread pressure on Los Angeles County district attorney Gil Garcetti to bring perjury charges against Fuhrman. Garcetti initially refused, saying that Fuhrman's use of racist language was "not material to the case", a major element of proving perjury.
However, many members of Garcetti's office made public statements on the issue, and Garcetti, citing the high emotions in his office about the Simpson case, opted to tender the decision to prosecute to Attorney General Dan Lungren to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
On July 5, 1996, Lungren announced that he would file perjury charges against Fuhrman and soon thereafter offered Fuhrman a plea bargain. On October 2, Fuhrman accepted the deal and pleaded no contest to the charges. He was sentenced to three years' probation and fined $200. As a result, Fuhrman is a convicted felon. Although he retired from the LAPD well before the plea, he is prohibited from ever serving as a police officer in most states again. He is the only person to have been convicted of criminal charges related to the Simpson case.
Murder in Brentwood
After the trial, Fuhrman retired to Sandpoint, Idaho. During 1997, he wrote a book about the Simpson case, called Murder in Brentwood (1997, ISBN 0895264218). It includes a foreword by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor of the Charles Manson case. In the book, Fuhrman apologized for making racist remarks, terming them "immature, irresponsible ramblings" made because of a desire to make money. He also contended that Lungren had charged him in order to garner black support for a planned campaign for Governor in 1998. Despite being told that Lungren's case was "flimsy at best", Fuhrman said he pleaded no contest because the odds were so greatly against him that it wasn't worth having his family being hassled by the press. He stated he could not afford to defend himself effectively; he already owed thousands of dollars in legal bills, and the area's Police Protective League would not help him pay them. He also claimed he could not afford living expenses for a trial that would take several months (or years, in case of an appeal). He also said he did not think he could get a fair trial in the racially charged climate of the time, and thought an acquittal would cause a riot similar to the events of 1992.
Fuhrman has said he believes the LAPD could have arrested Simpson on the afternoon of June 13, based on the blood evidence and his apparently contradictory statements during questioning. However, he believes senior LAPD officials didn't want to take a chance on being wrong about Simpson and wanted to wait until the preliminary genetic evidence came in.
Fuhrman argues that several errors made by his LAPD colleagues permitted the defense to allege that there was suspicious police conduct at Nicole Brown Simpson's house. For instance, Fuhrman claims that the initial search warrant submitted by one of the detectives on the case, Phillip Vannatter, was too short and did not include enough details of the probable cause and evidence on hand at the time. He also argues that major pieces of evidence were mishandled. Fuhrman believes his colleagues did not realize that their every move would be scrutinized in court due to the nature of the case.
Fuhrman also argues that the police and the prosecution made other errors that reduced the chances of a guilty verdict. For example, Mark and his partner, Brad Roberts, found a bloody fingerprint on the north walkway gate of Nicole Brown Simpson's house. According to Fuhrman, at least some of it belonged to the suspect, as there was enough blood at the scene to suggest the suspect was bleeding. This was potentially critical evidence; Simpson claimed that he'd cut himself on the night of the murders, but hadn't been to his ex-wife's house in a week. Had the fingerprint been tied to Simpson in any fashion it would have been a crippling, and possibly fatal, blow to his defense. It also could have contradicted the defense's allegations that Fuhrman planted the glove, since he did not know or have reason to know that it was Simpson's blood.
However, the fingerprint was destroyed at some point, and was only mentioned superficially at trial. In fact, Fuhrman later discovered that Vannatter and his partner, Tom Lange, didn't even know the fingerprint was there because they never read Fuhrman's notes. Roberts could have offered testimony to corroborate that the fingerprint was there, but was never called to testify– something that rankled Fuhrman almost as much as the fact that Vannatter and Lange never read his notes. Fuhrman also claimed that Roberts could have corroborated many of his other observations, but Marcia Clark didn't call him to avoid embarrassing Vannatter on the stand.
Fuhrman has said that he feels the prosecution abandoned him once the tapes were made public. He said that he pleaded the Fifth Amendment after he couldn't get the prosecution to call him to the stand for a redirect prior to the tapes being played for the jury. Once the tapes came out, Fuhrman said, he would have been nearly beyond rehabilitation.
Like many critics of the prosecution, Fuhrman felt that Judge Lance Ito allowed the defense to control the trial. For instance, like Bugliosi, he insists that relevant case law demanded that Ito foreclose the defense from asking him about racial slurs because of the possibility of prejudice to the prosecution's case. However, Fuhrman also says that Ito should have never been assigned to the case in the first place. Ito was married to Margaret York, an LAPD captain who had worked with Fuhrman in the past, and Fuhrman felt that Ito should have been challenged by the prosecution or voluntarily recused himself from the case on that basis.
Bugliosi and Outrage
In his own book on the Simpson murder case, Outrage, Bugliosi argued that, to prove Fuhrman had planted the glove, the defense would have had to prove that there was a far-reaching criminal conspiracy between Fuhrman and other officers. Bugliosi said that Clark should have opposed any conspiracy assertion in her closing argument. Bugliosi also said that, had there been such a conspiracy, anyone involved would have been risking both their careers and their lives. At the time, California law stated that anyone who fabricated evidence in a death penalty case could be sentenced to death themselves.
For his next book, Murder in Greenwich (1998, ISBN 0060191414), Fuhrman investigated the then-unsolved 1975 murder of Martha Moxley and presented his theory that the murderer was Michael Skakel, nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Senator Robert Kennedy. Skakel was convicted of Moxley's murder in June 2002. The book was adapted for a 2002 television movie starring Christopher Meloni as Fuhrman.
In 1999, he published The Murder Business: How the Media Turns Crime Into Entertainment and Subverts Justice (ISBN 1596985844), which addressed the fine line between crime reporting and entertainment.
In 2001, Fuhrman published Murder in Spokane: Catching a Serial Killer (ISBN 0060194375), which investigated a serial killer's spree on the West Coast.
In 2005, Fuhrman published Silent Witness: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death (ISBN 0060853379 ), which emphasized gaps in the medical and legal records that might allow for the possibility that Schiavo was murdered.
In 2006, he published A Simple Act of Murder: November 22, 1963 (ISBN 0060721545), about the John F. Kennedy assassination. In it, Fuhrman advanced a theory debunking the Single Bullet Theory while still maintaining that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. He claimed that the Warren Commission was forced to adopt the Single Bullet Theory for political reasons. However, he said that a dent in the chrome above the windshield of the presidential limousine used that day vindicated the story told by John Connally that a first shot at President John F. Kennedy did not hit him.
Fuhrman is a frequent guest of commentator Sean Hannity for Fox News. He was also the host of the Mark Fuhrman Show on KGA-AM in Spokane between the hours of 8am-11am Pacific Time. The show covered local and national topics and included guest callers, and was a casualty of the sale of the station by Citadel Broadcasting Corp. of Las Vegas to Mapleton Communications, LLC of Monterey, California.
- Butterfield, Fox (March 2, 1996). "Behind the Badge: A Special Report". The New York Times.
- Adams, Lorraine (August 22, 1995). "Stories Of Fuhrman Depict Racist Braggart". The Seattle Times.
- Witness for the Prosecution : People.com
- Craig Wolff (March 23, 1997). "Look Who's Talking". The New York Times.
- Business | O.J. Simpson's Lawyers May Say `Racist Cop' Planted Glove - L.A. Detective's Psychiatric History May Be Spotlighted | Seattle Times Newspaper
- Cal. Evid. Code § 352.
- "Ito's Final Decision on the Fuhrman Tapes". Court Document. Jack Walraven. 20 January 1995. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Lewis, Claude. "A Chilling TV Interview Lays Bare Mark Fuhrman, Racist And Liar". blog. Philly.com. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Mark Fuhrman project page at University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law. Accessed January 8, 2008.
- Fuhrman, Mark (1997). Murder in Brentwood. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing. ISBN 0-89526-421-8.
- "Fuhrman May Be Charged With Perjury at Simpson Trial" November, 1995 article originally appearing in the Los Angeles Times. Accessed January 8, 2008.
- Trex, Ethan. "Four Famous People Convicted of Perjury". Commentary. Mental_floss. Retrieved 18 November 2012.
- Bugliosi, Vincent (1996). Outrage: The Five Reasons O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder. New York City: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-04050-X.
- The Martha Moxley Murder — Whirlpool of Doubts — Crime Library on truTV.com
- Murder in Greenwich (TV Movie 2002) - IMDb
- Murder in Brentwood (February 1, 1997); ISBN 0-89526-421-8.
- Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley? (June 1, 1998); ISBN 0-06-019141-4
- Murder in Spokane: Catching a Serial Killer (May 22, 2001); ISBN 0-06-019437-5
- Death and Justice: An Expose of Oklahoma's Death Row Machine (September 2, 2003); ISBN 0-06-000917-9
- Silent Witness: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death (July 1, 2005); ISBN 0-06-085337-9
- A Simple Act of Murder: November 22, 1963 (May 2, 2006); ISBN 0-06-072154-5
- Mark Fuhrman at the Internet Movie Database
- Mark Fuhrman at Library of Congress Authorities, with 7 catalog records