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Way cleared for DNA tests


LOS ANGELES -- A judge cleared the way for DNA testing of blood samples today in the O.J. Simpson murder case amid signs the defense will wage a molecule-by-molecule battle over evidence.

At an emergency hearing yesterday, Judge Lance Ito affirmed his decision that defense experts could remove 10 percent of each of the samples before the prosecution's testing began this morning. Officials at the laboratory had wanted their own technicians to do the job.

The defense, meanwhile, objected to Judge Ito's requirement that they use the lab's equipment to cut their samples, which were to be stored at the lab until Judge Ito decides if they can conduct their own tests.

The blood undergoing testing was swabbed up at the crime scene, Mr. Simpson's white Bronco and Mr. Simpson's estate.

A defense expert in forensics, Dr. Henry Lee, was seen entering Cellmark Diagnostics in Germantown, Md., shortly before 9 a.m. today, when DNA testing was to begin. Lab officials wouldn't comment on today's testing.

With a case based on circumstantial evidence, prosecutors hope the genetic fingerprinting will link Mr. Simpson to the slashing deaths of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Mr. Simpson has pleaded innocent to two counts of first-degree murder.

The defense is fighting over minutia -- down to blood cells and the genetic material encoded within -- as a distraction, a Loyola University law professor said.

"The defense is hoping that all these things will make the jury forget there are two dead people with their throats slashed and make them concentrate on other issues," Stanley Goldman said.

Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro objected to Judge Ito's ground rules on the sampling: "They are totally unacceptable. They are useless and we will not be participating."

After the hearing, Mr. Shapiro refused to say if the defense planned to cut the the samples .

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