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O. J. Simpson murder case

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California v. Simpson
Seal of Los Angeles County, California (1957-2004).png
Full case name People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson
Decided October 3, 1995; 22 years ago (1995-10-03)
Verdict

Not Guilty in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony upon Nicole Brown Simpson, a human being.

Not Guilty in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony upon Ronald Lyle Goldman, a human being.
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Lance Ito

The O. J. Simpson murder case (officially titled People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson) was a criminal trial held at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in which former National Football League (NFL) player, broadcaster, and actor O. J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder for the June 12, 1994, deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. On the morning of June 13, 1994, they were found stabbed to death outside Brown's condominium in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Simpson was a person of interest in their murders. He did not turn himself in, and on June 17 he became the object of a low-speed pursuit in a white 1993 Ford Bronco SUV owned and driven by Al Cowlings.[1] TV stations interrupted coverage of the 1994 NBA Finals to broadcast the incident live. It was watched by an estimated audience of 95 million people.[2] The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized events in American history. The trial, often characterized as the trial of the century because of its international publicity similar to that of Sacco and Vanzetti and the Lindbergh kidnapping, spanned eleven months, from the jury's swearing-in on November 9, 1994.[3] Opening statements were made on January 24, 1995,[4] and the verdict was announced on October 3, 1995, when Simpson was acquitted on both counts of murder.[5][6] Following his acquittal, no additional arrests or convictions related to the murders have been made.[7] According to the newspaper USA Today, the case has been described as the "most publicized" criminal trial in history.[8]

Simpson was represented by a very high-profile defense team, also referred to as the "Dream Team", which was initially led by Robert Shapiro[9][10][11] and subsequently directed by Johnnie Cochran. The team also included F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Shawn Holley, Carl E. Douglas, and Gerald Uelmen. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were two additional attorneys who specialized in DNA evidence.

Deputy District Attorneys Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden believed they had a strong case against Simpson, but Cochran was able to convince the jurors that there was reason to doubt the DNA evidence provided by the State, which was a relatively new form of evidence in trials at that time.[12] The reasonable doubt theory included evidence that the blood sample had allegedly been mishandled by lab scientists and technicians, and there were questionable circumstances that surrounded other court exhibits.[13] Cochran and the defense team also alleged other misconduct by the LAPD related to systemic racism and the actions of Detective Mark Fuhrman. Simpson's celebrity status, racial issues, and the lengthy televised trial riveted national attention. By the end of the trial, national surveys showed dramatic differences in the assessment of Simpson's guilt or innocence between black and white Americans.[14]

Immediate reaction to the verdict was notable for its division along racial lines: a poll of Los Angeles County residents showed that most African Americans there felt that justice had been served by the "not guilty" verdict, while the majority of whites and Latinos expressed an opinion that it had not.[15]

After the trial, the Brown and Goldman families filed a civil lawsuit against Simpson. On February 4, 1997, the jury unanimously found Simpson responsible for both deaths.[16] The families were awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling $33.5 million ($51.1 million in 2017 dollars), but have received only a small portion of that.

Background

Brown–Simpson marriage

Simpson with his daughter, Sydney, in 1986

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown were married on February 2, 1985, five years after Simpson's retirement from professional football.[17][18] The couple had two children, Sydney Brooke Simpson (b. 1985) and Justin Ryan Simpson (b. 1988).[19] Their marriage lasted seven years, during which time Simpson was investigated multiple times by police for domestic violence and pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 1989.[20] Brown filed for divorce on February 25, 1992, citing "irreconcilable differences" as the reason.[21] Still, the abuse continued; Brown called 9-1-1 on 25 October 1993, crying and saying that "[Simpson] is going to beat the shit out of me".[22]

Murders

At 12:10 a.m.[23] on June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were found murdered outside of Nicole's Bundy Drive condominium in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California. She had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck, and had defensive wounds on her hands. Her larynx could be seen through the gaping wound in her neck, and vertebra C3 was incised;[24] her head remained barely attached to the body.[22] Both victims had been dead for about two hours prior to being discovered by police. Robert Riske, one of the first two officers on the scene, found a single bloody glove, among other evidence.

Detectives went to Simpson's Brentwood estate to inform him that Nicole had been murdered. Detective Mark Fuhrman climbed over an external wall and unlocked the gate to allow the other three detectives to enter as well. The detectives argued that they entered without a search warrant because of exigent circumstances—specifically, in this case, out of fear that Simpson might have been injured also. Simpson was not present when the detectives arrived early that morning; he had taken a flight to Chicago late the previous night. Detectives briefly interviewed Kato Kaelin, who was staying in Simpson's guest house. In a walk-around of the premises, Fuhrman discovered a second bloody glove; it was later determined to be the match of the glove found at the murder scene. Through DNA testing, the blood on this one was determined to have come from both victims. This, together with other evidence collected at both scenes, was determined to be probable cause to issue an arrest warrant for Simpson.

Simpson, while waiting in his bedroom, invited longtime friend and police officer Ron Shipp for a private discussion; Simpson jokingly told him, "To be honest, Shipp, I've had some dreams about killing her."[25][26]

Arrest of Simpson

Simpson's mugshot, 17 June 1994

Lawyers convinced the LAPD to allow Simpson to turn himself in at 11 a.m. on June 17, 1994,[27] although the double murder charge meant that no bail would be set and a first-degree murder conviction could result in a death penalty.[28] More than 1,000 reporters waited for Simpson at the police station, but he did not arrive. At 2 p.m., the LAPD issued an all-points bulletin. At 5 p.m., Robert Kardashian, a friend of Simpson's and one of his defense lawyers, read a letter by Simpson to the media.[29] In the letter, Simpson sent greetings to 24 friends and wrote, "First everyone understand I had nothing to do with Nicole's murder ... Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life."[29][27][30] Some interpreted this as a suicide note; Simpson's mother Eunice collapsed after hearing it,[22][31] and reporters joined the search for Simpson. Simpson's lawyer Robert Shapiro was present at Kardashian's press conference and said that Simpson's psychiatrists agreed with the suicide note interpretation. Through television, Shapiro appealed to Simpson to surrender.[32]

News helicopters searched the Los Angeles highway system for Simpson's white Ford Bronco.[31] At around 6:20 p.m., a motorist in Orange County notified police after seeing Simpson riding in the Bronco, driven by his longtime friend Al "A.C." Cowlings. The police tracked calls placed from Simpson on his cell phone. At 6:45 p.m., police officer Ruth Dixon saw the Bronco head north on Interstate 405. When she caught up to it, Cowlings yelled out that Simpson was in the back seat of the vehicle and had a gun to his own head.[32] The officer backed off, but followed the vehicle[33] at 35 miles per hour (56 km/h),[34] with up to 20 police cars following her in the chase.[35]

More than nine news helicopters eventually joined the pursuit; the high degree of media participation caused camera signals to appear on incorrect television channels.[32] The chase was so long that one helicopter ran out of fuel, forcing its station to ask another for a camera feed.[22] Radio station KNX-AM also provided live coverage of the low-speed pursuit. USC sports announcer Peter Arbogast and station producer Kash Limbach contacted former USC football coach John McKay to go on the air and encourage Simpson to end the pursuit. McKay agreed and asked Simpson to pull over and turn himself in instead of committing suicide;[36] "My God, we love you, Juice. Just pull over and I'll come out and stand by you all the rest of my life", he promised.[31]

LAPD detective Tom Lange, who had previously interviewed Simpson about the murders on June 13, realized that he had Simpson's cell phone number and called him repeatedly. A colleague hooked a tape recorder up to Lange's phone and captured a conversation between Lange and Simpson in which Lange repeatedly pleaded with Simpson to "throw the gun out [of] the window" for the sake of his mother and children. Simpson apologized for not turning himself in earlier that day and responded that he was "the only one who deserved to get hurt" and was "just gonna go with Nicole." Cowlings' voice is overheard in the recording (after the Bronco had arrived at Simpson's home surrounded by police) pleading with Simpson to surrender and end the chase peacefully.[37] During the pursuit, and without having a chance to hear the taped phone conversation, Simpson's friend Al Michaels interpreted his actions as an admission of guilt.[32]

ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN, as well as local news outlets, interrupted regularly scheduled programming to cover the incident, with an estimated 95 million viewers nationwide;[38][39][32][40] only 90 million had watched that year's Super Bowl.[22] While NBC continued coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden, the game appeared in a small box in the corner while Tom Brokaw covered the chase.[38][32] The chase was covered live by ABC anchors Peter Jennings and Barbara Walters on behalf of the network's five news magazines, which achieved some of their highest-ever ratings that week.[40] Benefiting from the event occurring in the evening, Domino's Pizza stated that its pizza delivery sales during the chase were as large as on Super Bowl Sunday.[41]

Thousands of spectators and on-lookers packed overpasses along the procession's journey, waiting for the white Bronco. In a festival-like atmosphere, many had signs urging Simpson to flee.[36][35] They and the millions watching the chase on television felt part of a "common emotional experience", one author wrote, as they "wonder[ed] if O. J. Simpson would commit suicide, escape, be arrested, or engage in some kind of violent confrontation. Whatever might ensue, the shared adventure gave millions of viewers a vested interest, a sense of participation, a feeling of being on the inside of a national drama in the making."[38] Sports Illustrated later commented the chase and subsequent hoopla was "The Sugarland Express meets The Fugitive".

Simpson reportedly demanded that he be allowed to speak to his mother before he would surrender.[35] The chase ended at 8:00 p.m. at his Brentwood estate, 50 miles (80 km) later, where his son, Jason, ran out of the house, "gesturing wildly",[35] and 27 SWAT officers awaited.[22] After remaining in the Bronco for about 45 minutes,[36] Simpson was allowed to go inside for about an hour; a police spokesman stated that he spoke to his mother and drank a glass of orange juice, causing reporters to laugh.[32] Shapiro arrived, and Simpson surrendered to authorities a few minutes later. In the Bronco, police found "$8,000 in cash, a change of clothing, a loaded .357 Magnum, a passport, family pictures, and a fake goatee and mustache."[36] Neither the footage of the Bronco chase nor the items found in the Bronco were shown to the jury as evidence in the trial.[42]

As Simpson was driven away, he saw the crowds, many of whom were African Americans, cheering him; Simpson said, "What are all these niggers doing in Brentwood?"[26]

Trial

Judge Lance Ito presided over the trial

On June 20, Simpson was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to both murders. As expected, the presiding judge ordered that Simpson be held without bail. The following day, a grand jury was called to determine whether to indict him for the two murders. Two days later, on June 23, the grand jury was dismissed as a result of excessive media coverage, which could have influenced its neutrality. Jill Shively, a Brentwood resident who testified that she saw Simpson speeding away from the area of Nicole's house on the night of the murders, told the grand jury that the Bronco almost collided with a Nissan at the intersection of Bundy and San Vicente Boulevard.[43] Another grand jury witness, a cutlery salesman named Jose Camacho, said he had sold Simpson a 15-inch (380  mm) German-made knife, similar to the murder weapon, three weeks before the killings.[43] Shively and Camacho were not presented by the prosecution at the criminal trial because they had sold their stories to the tabloid press.[40] Shively had talked to the television show Hard Copy for $5,000,[40] while Camacho sold his story to the National Enquirer for $12,500.

Rather than a grand jury hearing, authorities held a probable cause hearing to determine whether or not to bring Simpson to trial. This was a minor victory for Simpson's lawyers because it would give them access to evidence as it was being presented by the prosecution in contrast to the procedure in a grand jury hearing. After a week-long court hearing, California Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell ruled on July 7 that there was sufficient evidence to bring Simpson to trial for the murders. At his second arraignment on July 22, when asked how he pleaded to the murders, Simpson, breaking a courtroom practice that says the accused may plead using only the words "guilty" or "not guilty," firmly stated: "Absolutely, one hundred percent, not guilty."

District Attorney Gil Garcetti elected to file charges in downtown Los Angeles, as opposed to Santa Monica, where the crime took place.[44] The decision would prove to be highly controversial, especially after Simpson was acquitted.[44] It likely resulted in a jury pool with more blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and blue-collar workers than would have been found from Santa Monica.[45]

The prosecution decided not to seek the death penalty and instead sought a life sentence. Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark was designated as the lead prosecutor. Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden became Clark's co-counsel. Simpson wanted a speedy trial, and the defence and prosecuting attorneys worked around the clock for several months to prepare their cases. In October 1994, Judge Lance Ito started interviewing 304 prospective jurors, each of whom had to fill out a 75-page questionnaire. On November 3, twelve jurors were seated with twelve alternates.

The trial began on January 24, 1995, and was televised by Court TV, and in part by other cable and network news outlets, for 134 days. Darden argued that Simpson killed his ex-wife in a jealous rage; the prosecution opened its case by playing a 9-1-1 call from Nicole Brown Simpson on January 1, 1989, in which she expressed fear that Simpson would physically harm her, and he could be heard yelling at her in the background. Other material related to domestic violence was presented. The prosecution also presented dozens of expert witnesses to place Simpson at the scene of the crime, on subjects ranging from DNA profiling to blood and shoeprint analysis.

During the opening weeks of the trial, the prosecution presented evidence that Simpson had a history of physically abusing Nicole. Simpson's lawyer Alan Dershowitz argued that only a tiny fraction of women who are abused by their spouses are murdered. Within days after the start of the trial, lawyers and those viewing the trial from a single closed-circuit TV camera in the courtroom saw an emerging pattern: continual and countless interruptions with objections from both sides of the courtroom, as well as one sidebar conference after another with the judge, beyond earshot of the unseen jury located just below and out of the camera's frame.

Jury selection and revolt

According to media reports, Clark thought that women, regardless of race, would sympathize with the domestic violence aspect of the case and connect with her personally. On the other hand, the defense's research suggested that women generally were more likely to acquit than men, and that jurors did not respond well to Clark's combative style of litigation. The defense also speculated that black women would not be as sympathetic as white women to the victim, who was white, because of tensions about interracial marriages. Both sides accepted a disproportionate number of female jurors. From an original jury pool of 40% white, 28% black, 17% Hispanic, and 15% Asian, the final jury for the trial had ten women and two men, of which there were nine blacks, two whites, and one Hispanic.[14][46]

At the start of trial, twelve jurors and twelve alternates were selected from a pool of 250 potential jurors. Over the course of the trial ten were dismissed for a wide variety of reasons. Only four of the original jurors remained on the final panel.[47] During the middle of the trial, a number of the jurors staged what the media called a "revolt." After being sequestered for 101 days, thirteen of the eighteen jurors refused to enter the courtroom until they were granted a meeting with Judge Ito. Eventually, the jury returned with thirteen members wearing black or dark-colored clothing in what was described as a "funeral procession."[48][49]

Prosecution case

The prosecution believed it had a strong case despite the lack of known witnesses to the crime and the failure to recover the murder weapon.[50] Clark's case was supported by DNA evidence, and she expected a conviction. From the physical evidence that was collected, the prosecution claimed that Simpson drove to Brown's house on the evening of June 12 with the intention of killing her. They maintained that Brown had put their two children to bed and was getting ready to go to bed herself when she opened the front door of her house after either responding to a knock on the front door or hearing a noise outside. Simpson allegedly grabbed her before she could scream and attacked her with a knife. Forensic evidence from the Los Angeles County coroner alleged that Goldman arrived at the front gate to the townhouse sometime during the assault, and the assailant apparently attacked him and stabbed him repeatedly in the neck and chest with one hand while restraining him with an arm chokehold. Brown was found lying face down when authorities arrived at the crime scene. According to the prosecution's account, after Simpson had finished with Goldman, he pulled Brown's head back using her hair, put his foot on her back, and slit her throat with the knife, severing her carotid artery.[24] They argued further that Simpson left a "trail of blood" from the condo to the alley behind it; there was also testimony that three drops of Simpson's blood were found on the driveway near the gate to his house on Rockingham Drive.[51]

According to the prosecution, Simpson was last seen in public at 9:36 p.m. that evening when he returned to the front gate of his house with Kaelin, a bit-part actor and family friend who had been given the use of a guest house on Simpson's estate. Simpson was not seen again until 10:54 p.m.—an hour and eighteen minutes later—when he came out of the front door of his house to a waiting limousine he had hired to take him to Los Angeles International Airport to fly to a Hertz convention in Chicago. The defense and prosecution both agreed that the murders took place between 10:15 and 10:40 p.m., with the prosecution alleging that Simpson had driven his Bronco during the required five minutes to and from the murder scene. They presented a witness in the vicinity of Bundy Drive who saw a car similar to Simpson's Bronco speeding away from the area at 10:35 p.m.[13]

Limousine driver Allan Park testified that he arrived at Simpson's estate at 10:24 p.m. Driving past the Rockingham gate, he did not see Simpson's Bronco parked at the curb. Park testified that he had been looking for and had seen the house number, and the prosecution presented exhibits to show that the position in which the Bronco was found the next morning was right next to the house number (implying that Park would surely have noticed the Bronco if it had been there at that time).[52] According to Simpson's version of events, the Bronco had been parked in that position for several hours. Meanwhile, Kaelin was in his guest house and on the telephone to his friend, Rachel Ferrara. Park parked opposite the Ashford Street gate, then drove back to the Rockingham gate to check which driveway would have the best access for the limo. Deciding that the Rockingham entrance was too tight, he returned to the Ashford gate and began to buzz the intercom at 10:40, getting no response. Park got out of the limo and looked through the Ashford gate and saw that the house was dark with no lights on, except for a dim light coming from one of the second floor windows, which was Simpson's bedroom. While smoking a cigarette, Park made a series of phone calls from his cellular to the pager of his boss, Dale St. John, and then to Park's home, trying to get St. John's home phone number from his mother in an attempt to get the phone number for Simpson's house. At approximately 10:50, Kaelin (who was still on the phone to Ferrara) heard three thumps against the outside wall of his guest house. Kaelin hung up the phone and ventured outside to investigate the noises, but decided not to venture directly down the dark south pathway from which the thumps had originated. Instead, he walked to the front of the property and saw Park's limo outside the Ashford gate.

At the same time Park saw Kaelin come from the back of the property to the front, he testified that he saw "a tall black man" of Simpson's height and build enter the front door of the house from the driveway area, after which lights were turned on and Simpson finally answered Park's call.[citation needed] Simpson explained that he had overslept and would be at the front gate soon. Kaelin opened the Ashford gate to let Park drive the limo onto the estate grounds, and Simpson came out of his house through the front door a few minutes later. Both Kaelin and Park helped Simpson put his belongings (which were already outside the front door when Park drove up to the front of Simpson's house) into the trunk of the limo for the ride to the airport. Both Kaelin and Park remarked in their testimony that Simpson looked agitated. But other witnesses, including the ticket clerk at LAX who checked Simpson onto the plane and a flight attendant, said that Simpson looked and acted perfectly normal. Conflicting testimony such as this was to be a recurring theme throughout the trial.

Simpson's initial claim that he was asleep at the time of the murders was refuted by several different accounts. According to defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran, Simpson had never left his house that night, and he was alone as he packed his belongings to travel to Chicago. Cochran claimed that Simpson went outside through the back door to hit a few golf balls into the children's sandbox in the front garden, one or more of which made the three loud thumps on the wall of Kaelin's bungalow. Cochran produced a potential alibi witness, Rosa Lopez, a neighbor's Spanish-speaking housekeeper who testified that she had seen Simpson's car parked outside his house at the time of the murders. However, Lopez's account, which was not presented to the jury, was pulled apart under intense cross-examination by Clark, when she was forced to admit that she could not be sure of the precise time she saw Simpson's Bronco outside his house.

The defense tried to convince the jury that Simpson was not physically capable of carrying out the murders, saying that Goldman was a fit young man who put up a fierce struggle against his assailant. Simpson was a 46-year-old former professional football player with chronic arthritis, and had scars on his knees from old football injuries. However, Clark produced into evidence an exercise video that Simpson made a few months before the murders titled O.J. Simpson Minimum Maintenance: Fitness For Men, which showed that, despite some physical conditions and limitations, Simpson was anything but frail.[53]

The prosecution called Brown's sister, Denise, to the witness stand. She tearfully testified to many episodes of domestic violence in the 1980s, when she saw Simpson pick up his wife and hurl her against a wall, then physically throw her out of their house during an argument. The prosecution then called Karen Lee Crawford, the manager of the Mezzaluna restaurant where Brown ate on the night she was murdered. Crawford recounted that Brown's mother phoned the restaurant at 9:37 p.m. about a pair of lost eyeglasses. Crawford found them and put them in a white envelope. Goldman left the restaurant at 9:50 p.m. after his shift, taking the glasses to drop them off at Brown's house.[54]

Brown's neighbor, Pablo Fenjves, testified about hearing a "very distinctive barking" and "plaintive wail" of a dog at around ten to fifteen minutes after 10:00 p.m. while he was at home watching the news on television. Eva Stein, another neighbor, testified about very loud and persistent barking, also at around 10:15 p.m., that kept her from going back to sleep. Neighbor Steven Schwab testified that while he was walking his dog in the area near Brown's house at around 11:30 p.m., he noticed Brown's wandering and agitated Akita dog trailing its leash. He saw that it had bloody paws, but after examining it, he found the dog uninjured. Schwab said he took the dog to a neighbor friend of his, Sukru Boztepe, before taking it into his home where it became more agitated. Boztepe took the dog for a walk at approximately 12:00 midnight and testified that it tugged on its leash and led him to Brown's house. There he discovered Brown's dead body. Minutes later, Boztepe flagged down a passing patrol car.

Riske, the first officer at the crime scene, testified that he found a barefoot woman in a black dress lying face down in a puddle of blood on the walkway that led to the front door of her house. He next saw Goldman's body a short distance away, lying on its side beside a tree and off the walkway. Riske said he saw a white envelope, which was later found to contain the glasses left at the restaurant by Brown's mother. He also saw Goldman's beeper, a black leather glove, and a dark blue knit ski cap on the ground near the bodies. The front door of Brown's house was wide open, but there were no signs of forced entry nor any evidence that anyone had entered the premises. Nothing inside was out of the ordinary.

On Sunday, February 12, 1995, a long motorcade traveled to Brentwood and the jurors, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and Judge Ito made a two-hour inspection of the crime scene. It was followed by a three-hour tour of Simpson's estate. Simpson was under guard by several officers but did not wear handcuffs; he waited outside the crime scene in and around an unmarked police car and was permitted to enter his house.

Detective Ron Phillips testified that when he called Simpson in Chicago to tell him of his ex-wife's murder, he sounded shocked and upset, but did not ask about how she died. Lange testified that Brown was probably killed first because the soles of her bare feet were clean, implying that she was struck down to the ground before any blood flowed. This was a key point that suggested Simpson might have set out to kill Brown, whereas Goldman appeared to have inadvertently stumbled upon the scene, prompting Simpson to kill him as well. In cross-examining Lange, Cochran proposed two hypotheses for what happened at the murder scene. First, he suggested that one or more drug dealers encountered Brown while looking for her friend and house guest, Faye Resnick, an admitted cocaine abuser. In the second hypothesis, Cochran suggested that "an assassin, or assassins," followed Goldman to Brown's house to kill him.[citation needed]

Evidence presented to the jury

The prosecution offered circumstantial evidence to show Simpson's guilt.[55]

  • DNA analysis of blood discovered on a pair of Simpson's socks found in his bedroom identified it as Brown's. The blood had DNA characteristics matched by approximately only one in 9.7 billion, with odds falling to one out of 21 billion when compiling results of testing done at the two separate DNA laboratories.[24][55] Both socks had about twenty stains of blood.[24] The blood made a similar pattern on both sides of the socks. Defense medical expert Dr. Henry Lee of the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory testified that the only way such a pattern could appear was if Simpson had a "hole" in his ankle, or a drop of blood was placed on the sock while it was not being worn. Lee also testified that the collection procedure of the socks could have caused contamination.[56]
  • DNA analysis of blood found in, on, and near Simpson's Bronco revealed traces of Simpson's, Brown's, and Goldman's blood.[57]
  • Strands of hair consistent with Simpson's were found on Goldman's shirt.[57]
  • Several coins were found along with fresh blood drops behind Brown's condominium, in the area where the cars were parked.
  • DNA analysis of blood on a left-hand glove, found outside Brown's home, showed that it was a mixture of Simpson's, Brown's, and Goldman's blood. Although the glove was soaked in blood, there were no blood drops leading up to, or away from the glove. No other blood was found in the area of the glove except on the glove.[57][not in citation given]
  • The gloves contained particles of hair consistent with Goldman's, and a cap contained carpet fibers consistent with fibers from Simpson's Bronco.[13] A black knit cap at the crime scene contained strands of African-American hair.[13] Several strands of dark blue cotton fibers were found on Goldman. The prosecution presented a witness who said Simpson wore a similarly-colored sweat suit that night.[13]
  • The left-hand glove found at Brown's home and the right-hand glove found at Simpson's home proved to be a match.[58]
  • Officers found arrest records indicating that Simpson was charged in 1989 with beating Brown. Photos of Brown's bruised and battered face from that attack were shown to the court.
  • Much of the incriminating evidence — bloody glove, bloody socks, blood in and on the Bronco — was discovered by LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman. He was later charged with perjury for falsely claiming during the trial that he had not used the word "nigger" within ten years of the trial. Later during the trial, with the jury absent, he invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination when asked "did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case?"[59] In a 2016 interview, Dershowitz suggested that Detective Philip Vannatter – not Fuhrman – may have planted evidence on socks, based upon the presence of anti-coagulant in the blood discovered on the socks.[60] Dershowitz said that the jury may have concluded that if the bloody socks were fabricated by the police, then other evidence may have been fabricated as well.[60] F.B.I. expert testimony said that the defense exaggerated the significance of the presence of the anti-coagulant.[61]
  • The bloody shoe prints at the crime scene were identified by FBI shoe expert William Bodziak as having been made by a pair of extremely rare and expensive Bruno Magli shoes; only 29 pairs of this style were sold in the U.S.[13] The large size 12 (305 mm) prints matched Simpson's shoe size.[13] In the trial, Simpson's defense attorneys said the prosecution had no proof Simpson had ever bought such shoes. There were no witnesses who testified to selling Simpson the shoes and there wasn’t any receipts recovered that indicated he bought the shoes.[13] But freelance photographer E.J. Flammer claimed to have found a photograph he had taken of Simpson in 1993 that appeared to show him wearing a pair of the shoes at a public event, which was later published in the National Enquirer. Simpson's defense team claimed that the photograph was doctored, but other pre-1994 photos appearing to show Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes were later discovered and published.[62] None of these photos were shown until late in the trial and not during the "big shoe debate".[63]
  • Evidence collected by LAPD criminalist Dennis Fung was criticized by the defense. He admitted to "having missed a few drops of blood on a fence near the bodies;" on the stand he said that he "returned several weeks afterwards to collect them."[59]
  • Fung admitted that he had not used rubber gloves when collecting some of the evidence.[59] But the blood tested had no DNA from Fung, within published guidelines.
  • Vannatter testified that he saw photographs of press personnel leaning on Simpson's Bronco before evidence was collected.[59]

Evidence not presented to the jury

  • At the June 1994 grand jury hearing, Ross Cutlery provided store receipts indicating that Simpson had purchased a 12-inch (305 mm) stiletto knife from salesman Jose Camacho six weeks before the murders. The knife was determined to be similar to the one the coroner said caused the stab wounds. The prosecution did not present this evidence at trial after discovering that Camacho had sold his story to the National Enquirer for $12,500.[5] The knife was later collected from Simpson's residence by his attorneys; they presented it to Judge Ito and it was subsequently sealed in a manila envelope to be opened only if brought up at trial. This was not the murder weapon: tests on the knife determined that an oil used on new cutlery was still present on the knife, indicating it had never been used. The police searched Simpson's estate three times and could not find this knife. Simpson told his attorneys exactly where it was in the house and it was promptly recovered.[64]
  • Jill Shively testified to the 1994 grand jury that she saw a white Ford Bronco speeding away from Bundy Drive in such a hurry that it almost collided with another car at an intersection. She talked to the television show Hard Copy for $5,000, after which prosecutors declined to use her testimony at trial.[5]
  • A women's shelter, Sojourn, received a call from Brown four days prior to the murders; she said that she was afraid of her ex-husband, who she believed was stalking her. The prosecution did not present this information in court because they thought that Judge Ito would rule the evidence to be hearsay. In addition, friends and family indicated that Brown had consistently said that Simpson had been stalking her. Her friends Resnick and Cynthia Shahian said she was afraid because Simpson had told her he would kill her if he ever found her with another man.[5]
  • Former NFL player and pastor Rosey Grier visited Simpson at the Los Angeles County Jail in the days following the murders. A jailhouse guard, Jeff Stuart, testified to Judge Ito that at one point Simpson yelled to Grier that he "didn't mean to do it," after which Grier had urged Simpson to come clean. Ito ruled that the evidence was hearsay and could not be allowed in court.[5]
  • The events of the Bronco chase, and the materials in the Bronco including the cash, handgun, and disguise, were not presented to the jury. The prosecution did not cover Simpson's apparent suicide note and statement to the police.
  • A few months before the 1994 murders, Simpson completed a film pilot for Frogmen, an adventure series in which he starred. Although the prosecution investigated reports that Simpson, who played the leader of a group of former U.S. Navy SEALs, received "a fair amount of" military training – including use of a knife – for Frogmen, and holds a knife to the throat of a woman in one scene, it was not introduced as evidence during the trial.[65]
  • The testimony of Lopez was recorded on videotape, but not shown to the jury.

DNA evidence

Samples from bloody shoe prints leading away from the bodies and from the back gate of the condo were tested for DNA matches.[13] Initial polymerase chain reaction testing did not rule out Simpson as a suspect. In more precise restriction fragment length polymorphism tests, matches were found between Simpson's blood and blood samples taken from the crime scene (both the shoe prints in blood and the gate samples).[12][13] Fung testified that this DNA evidence put Simpson at Brown's townhouse at the time of the murders. But defense expert Barry Scheck conducted an eight-day cross-examination questioning most of the DNA evidence. Dr. Robin Cotton, of Cellmark Diagnostics, testified for six days. Blood evidence had been tested at two separate laboratories, each conducting different tests.[24] At this time, the general population was still unfamiliar with the precision and significance of DNA matching.[66]

It emerged during the cross-examination of Fung and the other laboratory scientists that LAPD scientist Andrea Mazzola (who collected blood samples from Simpson to compare with evidence from the crime scene) was a trainee who carried the vial of Simpson's blood around in her lab coat pocket for nearly a day before handing it over as an exhibit.[67][68] While two errors had been found in the history of DNA testing at Cellmark, one of the testing laboratories, in 1988 and 1989, the errors were found during quality control tests and had not occurred since.[24] One of the companies hired for DNA consulting by Simpson's defense had made the same error as found in 1988.[12] What should have been the prosecution's strong point became their weak link, amid defense accusations that police technicians handled the blood samples with such a degree of incompetence as to render the delivery of accurate and reliable DNA results almost impossible. The prosecution argued that they had made the DNA evidence available to the defense for its own testing, and if the defense attorneys disagreed with the prosecution's tests, they could have conducted their own testing on the same samples. The defense had chosen not to accept the prosecution's offer.[24]

On May 16, Gary Sims, a California Department of Justice criminalist who helped establish their DNA laboratory, testified that a glove found at Simpson's house tested positive for a match of Goldman's blood.[24]

Mark Fuhrman

Mark Fuhrman in 2008

In March 1995, Fuhrman testified to driving over to Simpson's house to question him on the night of the murders. After getting no response when buzzing the intercom of the house, which appeared empty, he scaled one of the outer walls to enter the property. He found blood marks on the driveway of the house, as well as a black leather glove on the premises near the location of Kaelin's bungalow. It was later found to have the blood of both murder victims on it, as well as Simpson's, matched through DNA analysis.[13]

Despite an aggressive cross-examination by F. Lee Bailey,[69] Fuhrman denied on the stand that he was racist or had used the word "nigger" to describe black people in the ten years prior to his testimony.[69] However, a few months later, the defense played audio tapes of Fuhrman repeatedly using the word – 41 times, in total. The tapes had been made between 1985 and 1994 by a young North Carolina screenwriter named Laura McKinney, who had interviewed Fuhrman at length for a screenplay she was writing on police officers. The Fuhrman tapes became one of the cornerstones of the defense's case that Fuhrman's testimony lacked credibility.

With the jury absent, Fuhrman was called back to the witness stand by the defense to answer more questions about the discovery of the blood marks and leather glove that he found on Simpson's property. When questioned by attorney Gerald Uelmen, Fuhrman, with his lawyer standing by his side, invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination and further questioning after his integrity was challenged. The prosecution told the jury in closing arguments that Fuhrman was a racist, but said that this should not detract from the factual evidence that showed Simpson's guilt.[5] Fuhrman's testimony resulted in his indictment on one count of perjury; he later pleaded no contest.

The glove

One dark leather glove was found at the crime scene, with its match found near Kaelin's guest house behind Simpson's estate. Kaelin testified that he had heard "thumps in the night" in the same area around the guest house the night of the murder. Brown had bought Simpson two pairs of this type of glove in 1990. Both gloves, according to the prosecution, contained DNA evidence from Simpson, Brown and Goldman. The glove at Simpson's house also contained a long strand of blonde hair similar to Brown's.[13]

On June 15, 1995, Bailey goaded Darden into asking Simpson to put on the leather glove that was found at the scene of the crime. The prosecution had earlier decided against asking Simpson to try on the gloves because the glove had been soaked in blood from Simpson, Brown and Goldman,[24] and frozen and unfrozen several times. The leather glove seemed too tight for Simpson to put on easily, especially over the sanitary gloves he wore underneath.[13] Uelmen came up with, and Cochran repeated, a quip he had used several times in relation to other points in his closing arguments: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit".

On June 22, 1995, Darden told Judge Ito of his concerns that Simpson "has arthritis and we looked at the medication he takes and some of it is anti-inflammatory and we are told he has not taken the stuff for a day and it caused swelling in the joints and inflammation in his hands". However, this theory was debunked by Cochran who informed Judge Ito on the record the next day that Shawn Chapman contacted the Los Angeles County Jail doctor who confirmed Simpson was taking his medication every day and that the jail’s medical records verified this.[70] He said Simpson “takes his medicine every day and that he has never at any time not taken his medicine for his rheumatoid arthritis, sulfathiazole I think it's called, and that the records at the jail so indicate that. And I think that the record should be made clear in that regard. And we took the further statement, as I said, to talk to Dr. Johnson this morning who verifies that fact also. So I felt compelled to indicate that to the Court.”[71] The prosecution also stated their belief that the glove shrank from having been soaked in blood and later testing.[13] They presented a photo during the trial of Simpson earlier wearing the same type of glove that was found at the crime scene.

Prosecutors claimed that the presence of Simpson's blood at the crime scene was the result of blood dripping from cuts on the middle finger of his left hand. Police had noted his wounds and asserted that these were suffered during the fatal attack on Goldman. However, the defense showed that none of the gloves retrieved at the crime scene had any cuts in them. Plus, both prosecution and defense witnesses testified that they did not see cuts or wounds of any kind on Simpson's hands in the hours after the murders took place. The defense alleged that Fuhrman may have planted the glove at Simpson's house after taking it from the crime scene. The analysis that found that the hair could be Brown's was not reliable.[13] The prosecution contended that the glove had not been moved. They noted that by the time Fuhrman had arrived at the Simpson home, the crime scene at Brown's home had already been combed over by several officers for almost two hours, and none had noticed a second glove at the scene. In his first round of testimony, Fuhrman answered "no" when asked by Bailey if he had planted any evidence at Simpson's house. In his second round of testimony after the tapes had been revealed, Fuhrman took the Fifth Amendment when asked the same question by Uelmen.

In May 2008, Mike Gilbert, one of Simpson's former sports agents, released his book How I Helped O.J. Get Away with Murder, in which he revealed that the gloves did not fit because, on his advice, Simpson had stopped taking his arthritis medicine, which made his hands swell.[72][73]

On September 8, 2012, Darden accused Cochran of tampering with the glove before the trial.[74] Dershowitz, a member of the Simpson defense team, refuted the claim, stating "the defense doesn't get access to evidence except under controlled circumstances."[75]

Racial issues

In closing arguments, Darden ridiculed the notion that police officers might have wanted to frame Simpson.[5] He questioned why, if the LAPD was against Simpson, they went to his house eight times on domestic violence calls against Brown between 1986 and 1988 but did not arrest him; they only arrested him on charges of abuse in January 1989 (when photos of Brown's face were entered into the record). Darden noted the police did not arrest Simpson for five days after the 1994 murders.[5]

In Cochran's summation to the jury, he emphasized that Fuhrman was proved to have repeatedly referred to African-Americans as "niggers" and also to have boasted of beating young African-Americans in his role as a police officer. Cochran's rhetoric was later criticized by Shapiro and by at least one juror,[5] as well as Goldman's father, Fred Goldman. Cochran called Fuhrman "a genocidal racist, a perjurer, America's worst nightmare and the personification of evil".[5] Fuhrman later pleaded no contest to a felony charge of perjury, which had arisen from his testimony in Simpson's trial.

Fears grew that race riots would erupt across Los Angeles and the rest of the country if Simpson was convicted of the murders, similar to the riots in 1992 which occurred after the acquittal of four police officers for the beating of black motorist Rodney King (King's beating was captured on an amateur video). As a result, all Los Angeles police officers were put on 12-hour shifts. The police arranged for more than 100 police officers on horseback to surround the Los Angeles County courthouse on the day the verdict was announced, in case of rioting by the crowd.

Defense case

Simpson hired a team of high-profile defense lawyers, including Bailey, Kardashian, Shapiro, Dershowitz, Cochran, Uelmen (then the dean of law at Santa Clara University), Carl E. Douglas and Shawn Holley. Two attorneys specializing in DNA evidence, Scheck and Peter Neufeld, were hired to attempt to discredit the prosecution's DNA evidence.[12] They argued that Simpson was the victim of police fraud and what they termed as sloppy internal procedures, which had contaminated the DNA evidence.[24] Simpson's defense was said to have cost between US$3 million and $6 million.[76] Simpson's defense team, dubbed the "Dream Team" by reporters, argued that Fuhrman had planted evidence at the crime scene. LAPD criminalists Fung and Mazzola were subject to strong scrutiny.

Simpson's defense sought to show that one or more hit men hired by drug dealers had murdered Brown and Goldman—giving both "Colombian neckties"—because they were looking for Brown's friend, Faye Resnick, a known cocaine user who had failed to pay for her drugs. However, Judge Ito barred testimony about Resnick's drug use. She had stayed for several days at Brown's condo until entering rehab four days before the killings. Ito stated that the defense had failed to provide sufficient direct or circumstantial evidence that the scenario was possible, indicating: "I find that the offer of proof regarding motive to be highly speculative." Consequently, he prohibited Christian Reichardt from testifying about his former girlfriend Resnick's drug problems.[77][78]

Verdict

At 10:07 a.m. PDT on October 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted of murder on both counts of murder. The only testimony reviewed was that of limo driver Alan Park, who had said that he did not see Simpson's Bronco outside of his estate when he arrived to pick him up after the murders occurred. The jury arrived at the verdict by 3:00 p.m. on October 2, after only four hours of deliberation, but Judge Ito postponed the announcement.[79]

Before the verdict, President Bill Clinton was briefed on security measures if rioting occurred nationwide due to the verdict. An estimated 100 million people worldwide watched or listened to the verdict announcement. Long-distance telephone call volume declined by 58%, and trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange decreased by 41%. Water usage decreased as people avoided using bathrooms. So much work stopped that the verdict cost an estimated $480 million in lost productivity.[79]

The U.S. Supreme Court received a message on the verdict during oral arguments, with the justices quietly passing the note to each other while listening to the attorney's presentation. Congressmen canceled press conferences, with one telling reporters, "Not only would you not be here, but I wouldn't be here, either".[80]

Reaction to the verdict

In post-trial interviews, a few of the jurors said that they believed Simpson probably did commit the murders,[81] but that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Three jurors together wrote and published a book called Madam Foreman,[82] in which they described how their perception of police errors, not race, led to their verdict. They said that they considered Darden to be a token black assigned to the case by the prosecutor's office.[69]

Critics of the jury's not-guilty verdict contended that the deliberation time was unduly short in comparison to the length of the trial. Some said that the jurors, most of whom did not have any college education, did not understand the forensic evidence.[83] After the verdict was read, juror number six, 44-year-old Lionel Cryer, gave Simpson a black power raised fist salute.[84] The New York Times reported that Cryer was a former member of the revolutionary nationalist Black Panther Party that prosecutors had "inexplicably left on the panel".[85]

In 1996, Cochran wrote and published a book about the trial. It was titled Journey to Justice, and described his involvement in the case.[86] That same year, fellow defense attorney Shapiro also published a book about the trial, entitled The Search for Justice. He criticized Bailey as a "loose cannon" and Cochran for bringing race into the trial.[87] In contrast to Cochran's book, Shapiro said that he does not believe that Simpson was framed by the LAPD for racial reasons, but believed the verdict was correct due to reasonable doubt.[69]

Clark published a book about the case titled Without a Doubt (1998).[88] Her book recounts the trial proceedings, from jury selection to final summation. She concluded that nothing could have saved her case, given the defense's strategy of highlighting racial issues related to Simpson and the LAPD, and the predominance of blacks on the jury. In Clark's opinion, the prosecution's factual evidence, particularly the DNA, should have easily convicted Simpson. That it did not, she says, attests to a judicial system compromised by issues of race and celebrity.

Former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi wrote a book titled Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder (1997). Bugliosi was very critical of Clark and Darden, faulting them, among other reasons, for not introducing the note that Simpson had written before trying to flee. He contended that the note "reeked" of guilt and that the jury should have been allowed to see it. He also noted that the jury was never informed about items found in the Bronco. The prosecution said that they felt these items of evidence would bring up emotional issues on Simpson's part that could harm their case, despite the fact that the items seemed as though they could be used for fleeing.[5][89] Bugliosi also said the prosecutors should have gone into more detail about Simpson's domestic abuse; that the prosecution should have presented evidence contrary to the defense's assertion that Simpson was a leader in the black community; and criticized the prosecution's closing statements as inadequate.[89] Bugliosi also criticized the prosecution for trying the murder in Los Angeles rather than Santa Monica.[90] During the jury selection process, the defense made it difficult for the prosecution to challenge potential black jurors, on the grounds that it is illegal to dismiss someone from the jury for racially motivated reasons. (California courts barred peremptory challenges to jurors based on race in People v. Wheeler,[91] years before the U.S. Supreme Court would do so in Batson v. Kentucky).[92]

District Attorney Garcetti's supporters noted that the decision to move the trial was made by the Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge, and not by Garcetti. The trial was moved due to security concerns at the smaller facility and the poor physical condition of the Santa Monica Courthouse.[90] In a 2010 review, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise said that Garcetti had "micromanaged" the trial, and that he had decided to have Simpson try on the gloves in open court that had been recovered at the murder scene and at Simpson's estate. Also, pundits criticized the prosecution for calling Fuhrman to the witness stand in the first place; they criticized the prosecution for lack of due diligence, which should have discovered his earlier racist statements. The D.A.'s office argued that the defense would have called Fuhrman anyway and that no one knew of the existence of the McKinney tapes until after the trial started.[93]

Discussion of the racial elements of the case continued long after the trial's end. Some polls and commentators have concluded that many blacks, while having their doubts as to Simpson's innocence, were more inclined to be suspicious of the credibility and fairness of the police and the courts, and thus more likely to question the evidence. The LAPD had a history of abusing African-Americans in the city, which was emphasized in the Rodney King case. After the civil verdict against Simpson, most whites surveyed said they believed justice had been served. Most blacks (75%) disagreed with the verdict and believed that it was racially motivated.[14] An NBC poll taken in 2004 reported that, although 77% of 1,186 people sampled thought Simpson was guilty, only 27% of blacks in the sample believed so, compared to 87% of whites. The Simpson case continues to be assessed through the lens of race. In 2016, FiveThirtyEight reported that most black people now think Simpson was guilty.[94]

According to a 2016 poll, 83% of white Americans and 57% of black Americans believe Simpson was guilty of the murders.[95]

Media coverage

When the trial began, all of the networks were getting these hate-mail letters because people's soap operas were being interrupted for the Simpson trial. But then what happened was the people who liked soap operas got addicted to the Simpson trial. And they got really upset when the Simpson trial was over, and people would come up to me on the street and say, 'God, I loved your show.'

— Marcia Clark, 2010[22]

The murders and trial—"the biggest story I have ever seen", said a producer of NBC's Today—received extensive media coverage from the very beginning; at least one instant book was proposed two hours after the bodies were found, and scheduled to publish only a few weeks later.[40] The Los Angeles Times covered the case on its front page for more than 300 days after the murders. The Big Three television networks' nightly news broadcasts gave more air time to the case than to the Bosnian War and the Oklahoma City bombing combined. The media outlets served an enthusiastic audience; one company put the loss of national productivity from employees following the case instead of working at $40 billion.[96] The Tonight Show with Jay Leno aired many skits on the trial, and the Dancing Itos—a troupe of dancers dressed as the judge—was a popular recurring segment.[97]

Participants in the case received much media coverage. Fans approached Clark at restaurants and malls, and when she got a new hairstyle during the trial, the prosecutor received a standing ovation on the courthouse steps; People approved of the change, but advised her to wear "more fitted suits and tailored skirts". While Cochran, Bailey, and Dershowitz were already well known, others like Kaelin became celebrities, and Resnick and Simpson's girlfriend Paula Barbieri appeared in Playboy. Those involved in the trial followed their own media coverage; when Larry King appeared in the courtroom after a meeting with Ito, both Simpson and Clark praised King's talk show. Interest in the case was worldwide; Russian president Boris Yeltsin's first question to President Clinton when they met in 1995 was, "Do you think O.J. did it?".[22]

The issue of whether or not to allow any video cameras into the courtroom was among the first issues Judge Ito had to decide, ultimately ruling that live camera coverage was warranted.[98] Ito would be later criticized for this decision by other legal professionals. Dershowitz said that he believed that Ito, along with others related to the case such as Clark, Fuhrman, and Kaelin, was influenced to some degree by the media presence and related publicity. The trial was covered in 2,237 news segments from 1994 through 1997.[79] Ito was also criticized for allowing the trial to become a media circus and not doing enough to regulate the court proceedings as well as he could have.[99]

Among the reporters who covered the trial daily from the courtroom and a media area they dubbed "Camp O.J."[100] were Steve Futterman of CBS News, Linda Deutsch and Michael Fleeman of the Associated Press, Dan Whitcomb of Reuters, Janet Gilmore of the Los Angeles Daily News, Andrea Ford of the Los Angeles Times, Michelle Caruso of the New York Daily News, Dan Abrams of Court TV, Harvey Levin of KCBS and David Margolick of the New York Times. Writers Dominick Dunne, Joe McGinniss and Joseph Bosco also had full-time seats in the courtroom.

O. J. Simpson on the cover of Newsweek and Time. Time darkened the image, leading to controversy.

On June 27, 1994, Time published a cover story, "An American Tragedy," with a photo of Simpson on the cover.[101] The image was darker than a typical magazine image, and the Time photo was darker than the original, as shown on a Newsweek cover released at the same time. Time became the subject of a media scandal. Commentators found that its staff had used photo manipulation to darken the photo, and speculated it was to make Simpson appear more menacing. After the publication of the photo drew widespread criticism of racist editorializing and yellow journalism, Time publicly apologized.[102]

Aftermath

In the February 1998 issue of Esquire, Simpson was quoted as saying, "Let's say I committed this crime… Even if I did this, it would have to have been because I loved her very much, right?"[103]

In April 1998, Simpson did an interview with talk show host Ruby Wax. As a joke, Simpson shows up at her hotel room, and waved a banana about his head, as if it were a knife, and pretended to stab Ruby with it. The footage soon made its way onto the US TV networks, causing predictable outrage.

Civil trial

In 1996, Fred Goldman and Sharon Rufo, the parents of Ron Goldman, filed a civil suit against Simpson for wrongful death, while Brown's estate, represented by her father Lou Brown,[76] brought suit against Simpson in a "survivor suit." The trial took place over four months in Santa Monica and, by judge's order, was not televised.[99][104] The Goldman family was represented by Daniel Petrocelli, with Simpson represented by Bob Baker.[104] Attorneys for both sides were given high marks by observing lawyers.[104] Simpson's defense in the trial was estimated to cost $1 million and was paid for by an insurance policy on his company, Orenthal Enterprises.[76]

Fuhrman was not called to testify, and Simpson was subpoenaed to testify on his own behalf.[8][14] In addition, a photo of Simpson, taken while he was attending a Buffalo Bills game in 1993, was presented at trial that showed him wearing Bruno Magli shoes,[105] the same type of shoes which investigators said the killer of Goldman and Brown was wearing when the murders were committed.[106] The photo was presented as evidence against him, as Simpson had previously denied ever wearing such shoes.[106]

The jury in the civil trial awarded Brown and Simpson's children, Sydney and Justin (Brown's only children), $12.6 million from their father as recipients of their mother's estate.[8] The victims' families were awarded $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, thereby finding Simpson "responsible" for the respective murders.[107] In 2008, a Los Angeles superior court approved the plaintiffs' renewal application on the civil court judgment against Simpson.[108]

Four years after the trial, at an auction to pay some of the money in the compensation order, Bob Enyart, a conservative Christian radio host, paid $16,000 for some of Simpson's memorabilia, including his Hall of Fame induction certificate, two jerseys, and two trophies he was given for charity work. Enyart took the items outside the courthouse where the auction was held, burned the certificate and jerseys, and with calm deliberation smashed the trophies with a sledgehammer.[109][110]

If I Did It

In November 2006, ReganBooks announced a book by Simpson, titled If I Did It, an account which the publisher said was a hypothetical confession. The book's release was planned to coincide with a Fox special featuring Simpson. "This is a historic case, and I consider this his confession", publisher Judith Regan told the Associated Press.[111] On November 20, News Corporation, parent company of ReganBooks and Fox, canceled both the book and the TV interview due to a high level of public criticism. CEO Rupert Murdoch, speaking at a press conference, stated: "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project."[112]

Later, the Goldman family was awarded rights to the book to partially satisfy the civil judgment against Simpson. The title of the book was changed to If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. On the front cover of the book, the title was stylized with the word "If" to appear much smaller than those of "I Did It", and placed inside the "I", so unless looked at very closely, the title of the book reads "I Did It: Confessions of the Killer".[113]

On March 11, 2018, Fox broadcast Simpson's previously unaired interview with Regan in a special titled O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?[114] In the decade-old interview, which was supposed to air with the release of the book by ReganBooks, Simpson gave a very detailed hypothesis on how the murders would have been committed if he had been involved, initially using phrases like "I would" and "I'd think", but later moved to using first person phrasing with sentences like "I remember I grabbed the knife", "I don't remember except I'm standing there", "I don't recall", and "I must have." Due to the change in phrasing, these comments were interpreted by many as being a form of confession, which stirred strong reactions in print media and the internet.[115][116]

Later developments

In 2007, as a result of an incident in Las Vegas, Nevada, regarding an attempt to reacquire materials Simpson claimed were stolen from him, Simpson was convicted of multiple felonies including use of a deadly weapon to commit kidnapping, burglary and armed robbery, and sentenced to a minimum nine years to a maximum 33 years in prison. His attempts to appeal that sentence were unsuccessful and he resided at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada.[117] During his 2013 parole hearing, Simpson was granted parole on all counts except weapons-related and the two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. After a July 20, 2017, Nevada parole board hearing voting unanimously 4-0, Simpson was granted parole after a minimum nine-year sentence on the remaining counts for the Vegas robbery with Sunday, October 1, 2017, to be his release date from prison on parole. According to Nevada law if he continues his good behavior, Simpson will have his 33-year sentence reduced by 50% to make September 29, 2022, the end of his sentence.[118] Upon release, Simpson intends to reside near his family in Miami, Florida. Goldman's father and sister, Fred and Kim, did not appear before the board, but stated that they had received about 1% of the $33.5 million that Simpson owes from the wrongful death civil suit.[119][120][121][122][123][124][125]

Simpson has participated in two high-profile interviews regarding the case – one in 1996 with Ross Becker, which outlines Simpson's side of the story, as well as a guided tour of his estate, where evidence used in the trial was found. The second took place in 2004, on the ten-year anniversary of the murders, with Katie Couric for NBC speaking to Simpson. He had worked for that network as a sports commentator.[126]

In May 2008, Mike Gilbert, a former agent and friend of Simpson, released his book How I Helped O.J. Get Away with Murder,[127] which details Simpson confessing to the killings to Gilbert.[128] Gilbert states that Simpson had smoked marijuana, taken a sleeping pill and was drinking beer when he confided at his Brentwood home weeks after his trial what happened the night of the murders. Simpson said, "If she hadn't opened that door with a knife in her hand... she'd still be alive." This, Gilbert said, confirmed his belief that Simpson had confessed.[129][73]

In March 2016, the LAPD announced a knife had been found in 1998 buried at Simpson's estate, when the buildings were razed. A construction worker had given the knife to a police officer, who, believing the case had been closed, did not submit it as evidence at the time. Forensic tests demonstrated that the knife was not related to the murder.[130]

It can be argued that the presence of Kardashian on Simpson's legal team, combined with the press coverage of the trial, would ultimately be the catalyst for the ongoing popularity of the Kardashian family.[131] While Kardashian's ex-wife Kris Jenner was already married to former Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner (then known as Bruce) at the time of the trial, Kardashian's family was mostly out of the public eye before the trial, only becoming famous due to the trial.[132]

Other theories

Although no one else was charged, and evidence points to Simpson's guilt, the murders continue to be the subject of research and speculation.[133] For example, Detective William Dear conducted a lengthy investigation, and his evidence and conclusions, among those of other experts (e.g., Dr. Henry Lee[134]) who have reviewed the crime, trial, and evidence, were addressed in the BBC documentary, O.J.: The True Untold Story (2000). The documentary, produced by Malcolm Brinkworth, claims that the police and prosecution had contaminated or planted evidence pointing to Simpson as the killer, and ignored exculpatory evidence. Furthermore, it asserts that the state too hastily eliminated other possible suspects, including Simpson's elder son Jason, and individuals linked to the illegal drug trade, in which Brown, Goldman, and Resnick allegedly participated.[135][134][136][example's importance?]

Alternative theories of the murders, supposedly shared by Simpson, have suggested they were related to the Los Angeles drug trade,[137] and that Michael Nigg, a friend and co-worker of Goldman, was murdered as well. Simpson himself has stated in numerous interviews that he believes the two had been killed over their involvement in drug dealing in the area, and that other murders at the time were carried out for the same reason. Brown, Simpson believed, had been planning to open a restaurant using proceeds from cocaine sales. Mezzaluna Trattoria, where she ate her last meal, and where both Nigg and Goldman had worked, was reportedly a nexus for drug trafficking in Brentwood.[137]

Brett Cantor, part-owner of the Dragonfly nightclub in Hollywood, was found stabbed to death in his nearby home on July 30, 1993;[138] no suspects have ever been identified.[139] The case gained renewed attention a year later when O.J. Simpson's defense team successfully petitioned the court trying him for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, his ex-wife, and Ronald Goldman, for access to the case file, on the grounds that the way in which all three were stabbed suggested the same killer.[140] Since Goldman had worked for Cantor as a waiter, and Nicole Simpson was a regular at Dragonfly, some books about the case have raised the possibility that the three killings may also have resulted from involvement in drug trafficking.[141][142][143]

Michael Nigg, an aspiring actor and waiter at a Los Angeles restaurant, was shot and killed during an attempted robbery on 8 September 1995 while withdrawing money from an ATM.[144] Three suspects were arrested a month later but released for lack of evidence and the case remains unsolved. Since Nigg was a friend of Ronald Goldman, with whom he had worked, and seemed to live quite well for someone in his position, leading to some reports that he was involved in drug trafficking, his death has been used to support theories that the murders of Goldman and O.J. Simpson's ex-wife Nicole the year before were drug-related as well.

In 2012, several links between the killings and convicted murderer Glen Edward Rogers were alleged in the documentary film My Brother the Serial Killer, which was broadcast on Investigation Discovery (ID). Clay Rogers, Glen's brother, recounts Glen talking about how he had met Brown and was "going to take her down" a few days before the murders happened in 1994. When the murder case was under process, Van Nuys ADA Lea D'Argostino came to know about a written statement from Glen revealing he had met Brown. The information was forwarded to Simpson's prosecutors, but was ignored. Much later, in his years-long correspondence with criminal profiler Anthony Meolis, Glen also wrote about and created paintings pointing towards his involvement with the murders. During a personal prison meeting between the two, Glen said he was hired by Simpson to break into Brown's house and steal some expensive jewelry, and that Simpson had told him: "you may have to kill the bitch". In a filmed interview, Glen's brother Clay asserts that his brother confessed his involvement.[145] Rogers' family stated that he had informed them that he had been working for Nicole in 1994 and that he had made verbal threats about her to them. Rogers would later speak to a criminal profiler about the Goldman-Simpson murders, providing details about the crime and remarking that he had been hired by O. J. Simpson to steal a pair of earrings and potentially murder Nicole.

Reaction from individuals involved

Such theories have been refuted by Clark,[146] Brown's sister Tanya, and Fred Goldman who said, "I believe [O.J.] did it, and he did it alone".[147]

The families of Brown and Goldman expressed anger at the premise of My Brother the Serial Killer, with both families dismissing the claims by the Rogers family.[148] Kim Goldman accused ID of irresponsibility, stating that no one had informed her of Glen Rogers' claims that he had been involved in her brother's death.[148]

ID's president, Henry Schlieff, replied that the documentary's intention was not to prove that Rogers had committed the crimes, but to "give viewers new facts and let them make up their own minds," and that he believed that Simpson was guilty of the murders.[149] Schlieff also commented that the movie did not point out any inconsistencies with the claims or evidence against Rogers because "ID viewers are savvy enough to root them out on their own."[149]

According to O.J.: Made in America director Ezra Edelman, no plausible alternative theory has emerged. [94]

In popular culture

Media adaptations

TV

Episodes of sitcoms, such as The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Seinfeld ("The Big Salad", "The Caddy"), have mocked the case, or more specifically, Simpson himself.[159]

Music

R&B group H-Town dedicated their album Ladies Edition, Woman's World (1997) to Brown, to help victims of domestic violence.[160]

Rapper Eminem referenced the murders in his 1999 song "Role Model", saying, "Me and Marcus Allen went over to see Nicole, When we heard a knock at the door, must have been Ron Gold. Jumped behind the door, put the orgy on hold, Killed them both and smeared blood in a white Bronco (We Did It)".[161]

The 2002 song "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", by American punk-pop band Good Charlotte includes the lyrics, "You know if you're famous you can kill your wife? There's no such thing as 25 to life, as long as you got the cash to pay for Cochran", in reference to the "Not Guilty" verdict which, many believe, wouldn't have been the case if Simpson hadn't appointed Cochran as his lead attorney.[citation needed]

Rapper Jay Z also referenced the trial in a song named The Story Of O.J which revolves around the case and the influence of systematic racism on the trial.

Hip hop artist Magneto Dayo released a 2013 "diss track" song titled "OJ Simpson" in which he insults his ex-girlfriend/artist V-Nasty, by referencing the Simpson murder case. The song's lyrics were also added to the Houston Press' list of "The 15 Most Messed-Up O.J. Simpson Lyrics".[162][163]

Exhibits

The suit Simpson wore when he was acquitted on October 3, 1995 was donated by Simpson's former agent Mike Gilbert to the Newseum in 2010. The Newseum has multiple trial related items in their collection, including press passes, newspapers and the mute button that Superior Court Judge Lance Ito used when he wanted to shut off the live microphone in court so lawyers could talk privately during the trial. The museum's acquisition of the suit ended the legal battle between Gilbert and Fred Goldman, both of whom claimed the right to the clothing.[164]

The Bronco from the famous police chase was on display at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee as of late 2016.[165]

See also

References

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Bibliography

Further reading

External links