MIAMI – O.J. Simpson testified in his road-rage trial Tuesday that the other driver lied about the confrontation, prompting the prosecutor to ask former football star whether he has ever lied or been aggressive.
The defense rested after Simpson, the sole defense witness, ended about three hours of cross-examination over two days in his trial on auto burglary and battery charges. He could get up to 16 years in prison if convicted.
The prosecution rested after calling a detective who took Simpson's statement the night after the encounter, and the judge told jurors to return for closing arguments Wednesday.
In response to prosecution questions about his believability, Simpson said he can be convincing but filled the courtroom with laughter when he said: "I don't think I've ever been accused of being an actor."
Prosecutor Abbe Rifkin asked if Simpson ever called himself a liar or would lie "especially if your life depended on it."
Simpson, 54, responded: "I've never been put in that position to have to lie with my life on the line."
Rifkin also asked Simpson if he's ever been aggressive, but Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy cut off questioning in an area that was getting close to Simpson's relationship with his ex-wife. Simpson was acquitted in his criminal trial of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman but was found liable in a civil trial to pay $33.5 million for their deaths.
The judge barred a substitute question about whether Simpson has been aggressive "in a situation with another vehicle on the road."
Aside from being on the same street at the same time on Dec. 4 in their neighborhood in suburban Kendall, the drivers in the road-rage trial gave drastically different accounts of their nighttime encounter.
Simpson said the confrontation began after he rolled through a stop sign while the other driver, Jeffrey Pattinson, was approaching the intersection from another direction. Pattinson said he had to brake hard twice to avoid hitting Simpson.
With both men out of their SUVs, Simpson said Pattinson "just puffed up like a bullfrog, got animated and just went off." Pattinson has testified that he stayed in his vehicle, that Simpson stormed at him, shouting, and that he asked Simpson if he was "a madman or something."
Simpson accused Pattinson of lying about staying in his car with his eyeglasses on. Pattinson said Simpson grabbed his eyeglasses off his head as he sat at his steering wheel. Simpson said both drivers got out and Pattinson had his eyeglasses in his hand.
Simpson's explanation for getting his thumbprint on Pattinson's glass lens was that he raised his arms and must have brushed against them as he ended a 30-second, profanity-laced shouting match with Pattinson.
In retrospect, Simpson testified: "I was upset with myself that I stopped. ... It was wrong for me to stop, but the guy made it impossible for me to drive."
Simpson said Pattinson kept his high beams on and laid on his horn. Pattinson said he honked and flashed his lights once, maybe twice, to get Simpson to pull over and stop.