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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Fireworks to Come' As Simpson Testifies

LOS ANGELES -- O.J. Simpson returns to the witness stand Monday for what legal analysts describe as a make-or-break performance that could determine the outcome of his civil trial.


In their first courtroom showdown Friday, Daniel Petrocelli -- lead attorney in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the families of murder victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman -- hammered at the former football star with a litany of harsh accusations.


A source on the plaintiffs' side promised "bigger fireworks to come" this week as opposing attorneys begin probing deeper into events surrounding the 1994 murders of Simpson's ex-wife and her friend. "We were just warming up," the source said.


Simpson, who was acquitted of double-murder charges in October 1995, scored points for keeping his cool during a grueling 4 1/2 hours on the witness stand.


But legal analysts say he may have hurt his credibility in the eyes of the jury by repeatedly denying that he had ever battered Nicole Simpson and instead depicting himself as the victim of an abusive, erratic wife.


As a result, Simpson -- who is reported to have rehearsed extensively in mock sessions -- will be under pressure to undo the damage and convince jurors to believe his side of the story.


"He has hurt himself very badly. I don't think this is going to play very well with the jury," said Peter Arenella, a law professor at the University of California-Los Angeles who attended Friday's session.


Simpson's denials came as jurors gazed upon enlarged photographs of his ex-wife's bruised and swollen face, and his testimony directly contradicted what police, her friends and her own diary said on the subject.


Legal experts say Simpson's testimony is likely to be the deciding factor in whether he is found "liable" for the murders and is forced to pay millions of dollars in damages.


Testifying in open court for the first time since the double killings, Simpson emphatically proclaimed his innocence.


In a rapid-fire exchange, Simpson replied "That's absolutely not true" again and again as Petrocelli created a sinister portrait of him as a murderer. Petrocelli wound up Simpson's first day of testimony by accusing him of rushing home from the murder scene and dripping a trail of blood on the driveway of his Brentwood estate.


Petrocelli used his courtroom confrontation with Simpson to lay out his theory of the murders -- that Simpson was a jealous bully who butchered his ex-wife and an innocent witness after she humiliated him by breaking off their attempt at reconciliation.


There were no courtroom bombshells, but Petrocelli began homing in on inconsistencies in Simpson's account of his actions on the day of the murders.


When Simpson resumes his testimony Monday, he could face tough questioning about his alibi on the night of the murders, the infamous low-speed freeway chase, the mysterious cuts on his hand and the blood evidence linking him to the crime scene.


The plaintiffs' attorneys are expected to keep him on the stand until the close of Tuesday's session, when the trial goes into a Thanksgiving recess until Dec. 2.