05/01/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
PUZZLED BY THE O.J. TRIAL? ALL this talk of forensics make your head hurt? Just what do the letters DNA stand for, anyway? John Cargill knows where to get his expert testimony about whodunit—and it isn't from anybody's hired witness. "Kato knows," says Cargill, 48. "The problem is that Kato can't tell us."
Cargill, of course, isn't talking about Kato Kaelin, the all-pro houseguest who spent six months at O.J. Simpson's home and five days on the witness stand last month. He puts his faith in the other Kato, the Akita whose barking on the night of June 12—cited by prosecutor Marcia Clark as fixing the time of the murders—led a neighbor to the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Cargill has a vested interest in putting a doggie-knows-best spin on what happened that night: He is covering the Simpson trial for Dog World magazine. Kato's barks, says Cargill's editor Donna Marcel, are "a real-life example that dogs are capable of more than we typically give them credit for."
It was Kato's howling, his apparent Lassie-like attempts to get help, that triggered the interest of the folks at Dog World, a 60,000-reader monthly published in Chicago. "If he could, I believe this dog would have rung doorbells," says Cargill, who believes Kato didn't go to Nicole's defense because he either knew her assailant or was asleep inside. In February, the magazine sent the reporter on a three-day trip to L.A., where Cargill, who usually writes about subjects like flea control or hip dysplasia, visited O.J.'s estate as well as the murder scene.
The son of a career Navy man and a physical therapist, Cargill spent 22 years in the Navy, ending up as a Marine Corps major, and bought his first Akita in 1969 while stationed in Jacksonville, N.C. He has owned 39 others since, and he still begins each day by walking Ka'aba, 10, his current Akita.
Back in Brazil, Ind., Cargill works as an administrator at the Osier Institute, a continuing education facility for doctors, then comes home at night, taps into Court TV's online library and downloads each day's testimony. Seven witnesses have testified about Kato's barking, and Cargill plans to have his article done in time for Dog World's, July issue. He won't predict how the verdict will go, but he does have a doggie scoop for Shapiro, Cochran or any other defense lawyer who pooh-poohs the relevance of Kato's barking. "If there are dog owners on that jury," he says, "O.J. and his defense team are in a big heap of trouble."