Monday, July 21, 2014

Murder In Brentwood, by Mark Fuhrman

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Synopsis: This book yields two surprises that have nothing to do with what made its author so notorious, but which have plenty to do with how public bureaucracies fail. First, it includes Furhman's contemporaneous crime scene notes (with observations as meticulous as any TV sleuth's), which make mention of a "visible fingerprint" Furhman saw on the Bundy back gate (and discussed with his partner at the time). Second, it reveals that Lange and Vannatter, the detectives from "downtown" who took over the case from Furhman, didn't check out the print that night or subsequently, and indeed never read Fuhrman's notes at all. That's why you didn't hear about the fingerprint during the criminal trial. (When authorities returned to sample blood from the back gate two weeks later, the print was gone.) In short, the main lesson of this book is an organizational one worth remembering: it doesn't matter if the grunts do a good job, if the big-shots don't follow up.

Thoughts: During the trial, I always felt that Fuhrman got a raw deal in the way he was treated. He was interested in doing proper police work, and it seemed to me that the detectives who took charge of the case were more interested in protecting O.J.'s reputation. The entire "racist" accusation never sat right with me, and after listening to this book, I now understand why. It was a created issue, and the prosecution chose to buy into it rather than protecting their witness. 

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