The knife, a five-inch fixed blade buck knife, was given to a retired LAPD motor officer who, while working off duty on a movie set near the Rockingham property in 2002, received the weapon from a construction worker, the officer’s lawyer tells PEOPLE.
“It was an old dirty rusted knife,” says Los Angeles attorney Trent Copeland, who represents the retired police officer George Maycott. “The construction worker said ‘Hey look you are the only cop I see around. I just discovered this around O.J. Simpson’s old place. What do you want me to do with this? Do you guys want it?”
The construction worker “simply told him, ‘I found this knife, we were digging on the property and this is what we found.’ He didn t tell him where on the property. He didn t tell him if it was on the perimeter of the property or under a bush,” says Copeland.
Copeland says Maycott took the knife and immediately picked up the phone and called the West LA Division of the LAPD.
“He knew he was making the right call to the right place,” says Copeland.
Copeland says Maycott spoke to a desk clerk who put him on hold to speak to a supervisor. The clerk came back a few minutes later and told Maycott, “We don t want to have anything to do with this. O.J. Simpson has been acquitted. There is double jeopardy. Even if that knife had blood all over it there is nothing we can do.”
Lawyer: Maycott’s Plan Was to Display Knife on Wall As Artifact
Copeland says the muddy, rusted knife remained in Maycott’s toolbox for 14 years until last month, when he was shopping at the LAPD police academy’s souvenir store and asked a police detective friend the Departmental Record (DR) number of the Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman murder case. Maycott’s plan was to have the knife displayed on his wall with the number engraved on the frame, Copeland says.
“He was going to mount or frame the knife as a sort of artifact knowing it wasn’t the knife – it was simply a knife that had been discovered on O.J, Simpson’s property,” says Copeland. “It was going to be just for kicks and when people came over he was going to say, ‘Hey look I have a knife that was found on O.J. Simpson’s property.’ ”
Copeland says the retired cop’s “buddy” didn’t give him the DR number: “He told him we have to report this to Robbery-Homicide and from there Robbery-Homicide contacted my client.”
Copeland adds: “My client voluntarily gave them a knife.”
At a Friday press conference, LAPD Captain Andrew Neiman said, “It has been submitted to our lab. They are going to study it and examine if for all forensics, including serology and DNA and hair samples.”
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Former Simpson Lawyer Alan Dershowitz: ‘It Probably Will be a False Alarm’
Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her home in 1995. Police searched for the knife used in the attack for months but were never able to find it.
Simpson was later found not guilty in the double murder but was later convicted on robbery and kidnapping charges and sentenced to prison in Nevada.
Attorney Carl Douglas, who was part of Simpson’s “Dream Team” of attorneys for his murder trial, calls the timing of the knife find “oddly coincidental.”
“It is ridiculous,” he says. “How more strongly can I express the absurdity of anyone believing that there is anything in any way useful that has been discovered 18 years later that now comes to the forefront for the first time?”
Even if the knife is, in fact, the murder weapon, Simpson cannot be retried for the murder because of double jeopardy, which prevents people from being tried for the same crime twice.
“He can never ever be prosecuted for their death even if it came back with Ron Goldman’s blood on it, Nicole Brown’s hair on it and O.J.’s fingerprints on it,” says former Los Angeles prosecutor Alan Jackson.
However, Jackson says if the knife does connect Simpson to the crime he could be held accountable by the Nevada parole board when he is up for parole next year.
“The parole board doesn’t have the same evidentiary requirements as a criminal trial court, so if they were to determine that knife was connected to him in any way, that could be used against him in a parole board hearing and utilized by the state to argue for denial of parole,” Jackson says.
Alan Dershowitz, a former member of the Dream Team, says the type of knife discovered will be the key.
“The only way it can really be relevant is if it has a kind of serrated knife blade that they say was consistent with the wounds,” he says. “It won’t change the verdict. It might change the verdict of history. But most people already think he did it.
“For those who think he did it this will just confirm it. For those who think he didn’t do it they will say it is the LAPD again trying to frame him. I don t think it will change much in terms of the way people think about it.”
Copeland says he doesn’t expect the knife will turn out to be the murder weapon. “It does not share the characteristics that investigators previously believed was the knife used in the murders,” he says. “It was dirty, muddy, rusty and it was not a retractable knife, which had long been suspected to be the kind of knife that was used in the murders. It didn’t appear to have any dried blood or tissue on it.”
“It probably will be a false alarm,” says Dershowitz. “They probably won’t be able to tie it to the case at all and it will go down as another episode of the 20-year-old saga. But if it does prove to be significant that could be something the public has a right to know. History has its claims.”