By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"What I initially set out to do," he says, "was make the list of people who were considered among the inner circle--family and friends of O.J., Nicole and Ron Goldman--and see who could be eliminated."
In time, all but one was.
In his recently self-published book, O.J. Is Guilty, but Not of Murder, Dear presents a case that O.J.'s troubled son, Jason, 24 at the time of the murders, should have been viewed as a prime suspect. (The Dallas Observer has not attempted to investigate Dear's theory, other than to verify statements of fact.)
"I'm not accusing him of murder," Dear says, "but this is a man with a history of mental problems, a man who was seen carrying a set of sharp chef's knives on the night of the murders." He is also, Dear says, someone who lied about his whereabouts at the time of the crime.
"At the very least," Dear says, "he should have been questioned."
Dear says today that Jason Lamar Simpson was apparently never interviewed by investigators. As proof, Dear pulls a copy of a deposition given by Jason prior to the 1996 civil trial in which his father was found responsible for the crimes. In response to questions from attorney Daniel Petrocelli about his ever being questioned about the murders by the LAPD or the district attorney's office, the young Simpson's answers were "No."
That is but one of many things Dear found troubling as his investigation progressed. Why was it, he asks, that unidentified fingerprints discovered in Nicole's condo were compared to 15 others, yet there was never any attempt to match them to Jason? To satisfy his curiosity, Dear has requested copies of all fingerprints taken at the crime scene.
"My investigation," he writes, "uncovered the fact that the day after the murders...O.J. retained a high-profile criminal defense attorney who specialized in death penalty murder cases to represent Jason Simpson. Why would he hire a criminal attorney to represent Jason, who was not even a suspect at the time?"
The police, Dear says, had, from the outset of their investigation, been convinced that Jason had an alibi for the time--shortly after 10:15 p.m.--when the murders were committed. Jason Simpson was a chef at a trendy Beverly Hills restaurant called Jackson's, and he had allegedly worked until 11 p.m., then was picked up by a girlfriend who was driving his Jeep. They had gone directly to her apartment to watch a movie on television.
However, when Dear located the girlfriend and interviewed her, she told a different story. Because business had been slow that evening, she said, Jason had closed the kitchen early and left work at 9:45. According to her account, Jason had left her place at approximately 11 p.m.
Then, in his civil deposition, Jason provided yet another version: He indicated that he left the restaurant between 10 and 10:30 p.m., drove his girlfriend to her apartment, kissed her good night in the Jeep, then went directly home where he watched TV alone until three in the morning.
"All three versions," Dear says, "can't be right." One thing that is consistent in each version, however, is that Simpson did have his set of chef's knives with him when he left the restaurant.
Why, Dear asks, did those assigned to the case not bother to check Jason Simpson's background? "If someone had done so," he says, "it would certainly have raised some red flags."
In his 339-page book, copies of which he recently sent to the California Attorney General's Office, the Los Angeles County district attorney and the Los Angeles Police Department, Dear offers evidence that the young Simpson was on probation for aggravated assault at the time of the Bundy Drive murders, having attacked a former employer. Medical records obtained by Dear list a lengthy history of mental problems, suicide attempts and excessive use of drugs and alcohol. On at least two occasions, Jason Simpson, diagnosed by his doctor as suffering an intermittent rage disorder that was being controlled by the drug Depakote, had physically assaulted ex-girlfriends. One, who Dear quotes at length, described Simpson as being gentle and loving at one moment, then angry and out of control the next.
In the book, she describes one of many violent incidents that occurred between them: "He [Jason] grabbed me and pinned me down on the bathroom floor. Then he grabbed for my braids. He started whacking off my hair with his chef's knife." Several times, she told the private investigator, Simpson had attempted suicide. On one occasion, she recalled, he had broken a plate-glass window, had picked up one of the shards and began slashing at his wrists. "He was yelling, 'See what I'm going to do? I'm going to kill myself.' It was all so crazy. He was acting like a madman, somebody else, somebody I didn't know."
The violence and anger, she told Dear, generally occurred when Simpson was not taking his medication. She said that she had seen Jason two months before the murders occurred, and he had told her he was no longer taking the Depakote. "I asked him," Dear quotes her as saying, "and he told me, 'No, that medication was fucking me up in the head. I'm not taking that shit anymore.'"