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Murder trial of O. J. Simpson

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People v. Simpson
CourtSuperior Court of California for and in the County of Los Angeles
Full case nameThe People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson
SubmittedJune 16, 1994
StartedJanuary 24, 1995
DecidedOctober 3, 1995; 28 years ago (1995-10-03)
VerdictNot guilty in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony upon Nicole Brown Simpson.
Not guilty in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony upon Ronald Lyle Goldman.
ChargeFirst-degree murder with special circumstances (2 counts)
Case history
Subsequent actionsCivil lawsuit filed by the Brown and Goldman families; Simpson was found responsible by a preponderance of the evidence for both deaths on February 4, 1997.
Court membership
Judges sitting
  • Kathleen Kennedy-Powell (Preliminary Hearing)
  • Lance Ito (Trial)

The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson was a criminal trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court, in which former National Football League (NFL) player and actor O. J. Simpson was tried and acquitted for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The two were stabbed to death outside Brown's condominium in Los Angeles on June 12, 1994. The murder trial spanned eight months, from January 24 to October 3, 1995.

Though prosecutors argued that Simpson was implicated by a significant amount of forensic evidence, he was acquitted of both murders on October 3.[1][2][3][4] Commentators agree that to convince the majority-Black jury to acquit Simpson, the defense capitalized on anger among the city's African-American community toward the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), which had a history of racial bias and had inflamed racial tensions in major incidents two years prior.[5][6][7] The trial is often characterized as the trial of the century because of its international publicity and has been described as the "most publicized" criminal trial in history.[8] Simpson was formally charged with the murders on June 17, when he did not turn himself in at the agreed time, he became the subject of a police pursuit.[9] TV stations interrupted coverage of the 1994 NBA Finals to broadcast live coverage of the pursuit, which was watched by around 95 million people.[10] The pursuit and Simpson's arrest were among the most widely publicized events in history.

Simpson was represented by a high-profile defense team, referred to as the "Dream Team", initially led by Robert Shapiro[11][12] and subsequently directed by Johnnie Cochran. The team included F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Shawn Holley, Carl E. Douglas, and Gerald Uelmen.

While Deputy District Attorneys Marcia Clark, William Hodgman, and Christopher Darden believed they had a strong case, the defense team persuaded the jury there was reasonable doubt concerning the DNA evidence.[1] They contended the blood sample had been mishandled by lab scientists[13] and that the case had been tainted by LAPD misconduct related to racism and incompetence. The use of DNA evidence in trials was relatively new, and many laypersons did not understand how to evaluate it.

The trial was considered significant for the wide division in reaction to the verdict.[14] Observers' opinions of the verdict were largely related to their ethnicity; the media dubbed this the "racial gap".[15] A poll of Los Angeles County residents showed most African Americans thought the "not guilty" verdict was justified while most whites thought it was a racially motivated jury nullification[16][17] by the mostly African-American jury.[18] Polling in later years showed the gap had narrowed since the trial; more than half of polled Black respondents expressed the belief that Simpson was guilty.[19] In 2017, three jurors who acquitted Simpson said they would still vote to acquit, while one said he would convict.[20]

After the trial, Goldman's father filed a civil suit against Simpson. In 1997, the jury unanimously found Simpson responsible for the deaths of Goldman and Brown.[21] The Goldman family was awarded damages totaling $34 million ($64 million in 2023 dollars), but as of 2024 have received a small portion of that.


Background[edit]

Simpson–Brown marriage[edit]

Simpson with his daughter Sydney, 1986

Brown met Simpson in 1977[22] when he was 30 and she was 18, working as a waitress at the Daisy (a Beverly Hills private club).[23][24] They began dating although Simpson was married; he filed for divorce from his first wife in March 1979.

Simpson and Brown married on February 2, 1985.[25][26][27] They had two children together, daughter Sydney (b. 1985) and son Justin (b. 1988).[28] Brown signed a prenuptial agreement that prohibited her from working while married.[29]

According to psychologist Lenore E. Walker, the Simpson–Brown marriage was a "textbook example of domestic abuse".[30][31][32] In letters and other documents, Brown wrote that Simpson had beaten her in public, during sex, and even in front of family and friends.[33] She described an incident in which Simpson broke her arm during a fight; to prevent him from being arrested, she told emergency room staff that she had fallen off her bike.[34] Brown wrote that she felt conflicted about notifying police of the abuse because she was financially dependent on Simpson.[30] Of the 62 incidents of abuse, the police were notified eight times, and Simpson was arrested once.[35][36][37] On February 25, 1992, Brown filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences".[38]

Brown said that Simpson stalked and harassed her after they divorced – an intimidation tactic meant to force the victim to return to the abuser.[39][40] She said he had spied on her having sex with her new boyfriend[41] and that she felt her life was in danger because Simpson had threatened to kill her if he ever found her with another man.[42] She drafted a will.[43] On June 8, 1994, a woman named Nicole (presumed to be Brown) telephoned Sojourn House, a women's shelter.[44][45] She was considering staying at the shelter because she was afraid of what Simpson might do to her, as she was refusing his pleas to reconcile their marriage.[46]

Frogmen[edit]

A few months before the killings, Simpson finished filming a pilot for Frogmen, an adventure series comparable to The A-Team. Simpson played the primary character, "Bullfrog" Burke, who led a gang of former US Navy SEALs. He underwent "a fair amount of" military training for Frogmen, including the use of a knife, and in one scene, he holds a knife to the throat of a woman playing his daughter. Investigators discovered a 25-minute tape of the pilot, which did not feature the knife scene, and viewed it on Simpson's television while searching his home. The defense attempted to prevent its use on these grounds, but Judge Ito permitted it to be shown.[47] "Bullfrog" Burke was skilled at night killings,[48] and the "silent kill" technique of slashing the throat.[49] SEALs also regularly wear knit "watch caps" like the one found at the scene.[50]

Murders[edit]

Map
Location of the murders

On the evening of June 12, 1994, Brown and Simpson both attended their daughter Sydney's dance recital at Paul Revere Middle School. Afterward, Brown and her family went to eat at Mezzaluna restaurant; Simpson declined an invitation to join them. One of the waiters at the restaurant was Ron Goldman, who had become close friends with Brown in recent weeks,[51] but was not assigned to the Brown family's table.[52]

Brown and her children went to Ben & Jerry's before returning to her condominium on Bundy Drive, Brentwood.[53] The manager of Mezzaluna recounted that Brown's mother telephoned the restaurant at 9:37 pm asking about a pair of lost eyeglasses. The manager found the glasses and put them in a white envelope, which Goldman took with him as he left the restaurant at the end of his shift at 9:50 pm; he intended to drop them off at Brown's place.[54][55]

Meanwhile, Simpson ate takeout food from McDonald's with Kato Kaelin, a bit-part actor and family friend who had been given the use of a guest house on Simpson's estate. Rumors circulated that Simpson had been on drugs at the time of the murder (later dismissed as blood tests were negative for Simpson, Brown, and Goldman), and the New York Post's Cindy Adams reported that the pair had gone to a local Burger King, where a prominent drug dealer known only as "J. R." later said he had sold them crystal meth.[56][57]

Brown's neighbors testified that they heard profuse barking coming from outside throughout the night, beginning around 10:15 pm. Around 10:55 pm., a dogwalker who lived a few blocks away from Brown came across Brown's Akita dog barking in the street outside her home. The Akita, whose legs were covered in blood, followed the man home; he tried to walk the dog back to where he found it, but the dog resisted. Later, he left the Akita with a neighboring couple who offered to keep the dog overnight; as the dog was agitated, the couple decided to walk it back to where it had been found. Around midnight, as they reached the area where the Akita had been found, the dog stopped outside Brown's home and the couple saw Brown's body lying outside the house. Police were called to the scene and found Goldman's body near Brown's.[58]

Police Representation of the crime scene. A marks where Nicole's body was found. B marks where Ron's body was found.

The front door to Brown's condominium was open when the bodies were found, but there were no signs that anyone had entered the building, by breaking in or otherwise. Brown's body was lying face down and barefoot at the bottom of the stairs leading to the door.[59] The walkway leading to the stairs was covered in blood, but the soles of Brown's feet were clean; based on this evidence, investigators concluded that she was the first person to be attacked and the intended target.[60] She had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck, but there were few defensive wounds on her hands, implying a short struggle to investigators. The final wound inflicted ran deep into her neck, severing her carotid artery. A large bruise in the center of her upper back with a corresponding foot print on her clothing indicated to investigators that, after killing Goldman, the assailant returned to Brown who was on the ground, pulled her head back by the hair and slit her throat.[61][62] Her larynx could be seen through the gaping wound in her neck, and vertebra C3 was incised;[62] Brown's head barely remained attached to her body.[63][64][65]

Goldman's body lay nearby, close to a tree and the fence. He had been stabbed multiple times in the body and neck, but there were relatively few defensive wounds on his hands, signifying a short struggle to investigators.[66] Forensic evidence from the Los Angeles County coroner alleged that the assailant stabbed Goldman with one hand while holding him in a chokehold. Near Goldman's body were a blue knit cap; a left-hand, extra-large Aris Isotoner light leather glove; and the envelope containing the glasses that he was returning. Detectives determined that Goldman came to Brown's house during her murder and that the assailant killed him to remove any witnesses.[65] A trail of the assailant's bloody shoe prints ran through the back gate. To the left of some of the prints were drops of blood from the killer, who was apparently bleeding from the left hand. Measuring the distance between the prints indicated that the assailant walked – rather than ran – away from the scene.[67]

Gallery[edit]

Flight to Chicago[edit]

On the night of June 12, Simpson was scheduled to board a red-eye flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Chicago, where he was due to play golf the following day at a convention with representatives of The Hertz Corporation, for whom he was a spokesman.[68] The flight was due to leave at 11:45 pm. Limousine driver Allan Park arrived early at Simpson's Rockingham estate to pick him up at around 10:25 pm.[69][70] Park drove around the estate to make sure he could navigate the area with the stretch limousine properly and to see which driveway would have the best access for the car. He began to buzz the intercom at 10:40, but got no response. He noted the house was dark, and nobody appeared to be home as he smoked a cigarette and made several calls to his boss to get Simpson's home phone number. He testified that at one point he saw a "shadowy figure", the same size as Simpson, enter the house through the front door from where the driveway starts, before the lights came on; he did not see what direction the figure came from.[71] He testified that he saw Simpson's house number on the curb outside the estate, but no car was parked outside. The prosecution presented exhibits showing the position next to the house number on the curb in which Simpson's Ford Bronco was found the next morning, implying that Park would surely have noticed the Bronco if it had been there when he arrived to pick Simpson up.[71][69]

Around the time Park saw the "shadowy figure" head towards the south walkway where the bloody glove would later be found, Kato Kaelin was having a telephone conversation with a friend. At approximately 10:40, something crashed into the wall of the guest house Kaelin was staying in, which he described as three "thumps" and which he feared was an earthquake. Kaelin hung up the phone and ventured outside to investigate the noises, but did not go directly down the dark south pathway from which the thumps had originated. Instead, he walked to the front of the property, where he saw the limousine parked outside. Kaelin let the limousine in, and Simpson finally came out through the front door a few minutes later, claiming he had overslept.[69] Both Park and Kaelin would later testify that Simpson seemed agitated that night.[72]

Park noted that on the way to the airport, Simpson complained about how hot it was, and was sweating and rolled down the window, despite it not being a warm night.[73] Park also testified that he loaded four luggage bags into the car that night, one of them being a knapsack that Simpson would not let him touch, insisting he load it himself. A porter at the airport testified that Simpson checked only three bags that night,[74] and the police determined that the missing luggage was the same knapsack the limousine driver had mentioned earlier.[75] Another witness not heard at the trial claimed he saw Simpson at the airport discarding items from a bag into a trash can.[76][77] Detectives Tom Lange and Philip Vannatter believe this is how the murder weapon, shoes and clothes that Simpson wore during the murder were disposed.[78]

The hotel where Simpson stayed in Chicago, pictured in 2014

Simpson was running late but caught his flight. A passenger on the plane and the pilot testified that they did not notice any cuts or wounds on Simpson's hands.[79] A broken glass, a note with a telephone number on it, and bedsheets with blood on them were all recovered from Simpson's room at the O'Hare Plaza Hotel. The manager of the hotel recalled Simpson asking for a Band-Aid for his finger at the front desk, because he had "cut it on pieces of note paper".[80]

Initial investigation and arrest[edit]

After learning that Brown was the female victim, LAPD commander Keith Bushey ordered detectives Tom Lange, Philip Vannatter, Ron Phillips, and Mark Fuhrman to notify Simpson of her death and to escort him to the police station to pick up the former couple's children, who were asleep in Brown's condominium at the time of the murders. The detectives buzzed the intercom at Simpson's estate for over 30 minutes but received no response. They noted that Simpson's car was parked at an awkward angle, with its back end out more than the front, and that there was blood on the door, which they feared meant someone inside might be hurt. Vannatter instructed Fuhrman to scale the wall and unlock the gate to allow the other three detectives to enter. The detectives would argue they entered without a search warrant because of exigent circumstances – specifically out of fear that someone inside might be injured.[81] Fuhrman briefly interviewed Kaelin, who told the detective that the car belonged to Simpson and that earlier that night he had heard thumps on his wall. In a walk around the premises to inspect what may have caused the thumps, Fuhrman discovered a blood-stained right-hand glove, which was determined to be the mate of the left-hand glove found next to the body of Goldman. This evidence along with the presence of blood in the driveway of the Rockingham estate and on Simpson's vehicle constituted probable cause and a search warrant for the location was applied for and granted.[82]

Phillips testified that when he called Simpson in Chicago to tell him of Brown's murder, Simpson sounded "very upset" but was oddly unconcerned about the circumstances of her death. Simpson only asked if the children had seen the murder or Brown's body, but was not concerned about whether the assailant(s) had harmed the children either.[83] The police contacted Simpson at his home on June 13 and took him to Parker Center for questioning. Lange noticed that Simpson had a cut on a finger on his left hand that was consistent with where the killer was bleeding from, and asked Simpson how he got the cut. At first, Simpson claimed he cut his finger accidentally while in Chicago after learning of Brown's death. Lange then informed Simpson that blood was found inside his car; at this point, Simpson admitted that he had cut his finger on June 12, but said he did not remember how. He voluntarily gave some of his own blood for comparison with evidence collected at the crime scene and was released.[84][85] On June 14, Simpson hired lawyer Robert Shapiro, who began assembling Simpson's team of lawyers (referred to as the "Dream Team"). Shapiro noted that an increasingly distraught Simpson had begun treatment for depression. The following days, preliminary results from DNA testing came back with matches to Simpson but the District Attorney delayed filing charges until all the results had come back. Simpson spent the night between June 16 and 17 at the San Fernando Valley home of friend Robert Kardashian; Shapiro asked several doctors to attend to Simpson's purported fragile mental state.[citation needed]

On June 17, detectives recommended that Simpson be charged with two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstance of multiple killings after the final DNA results came back and an arrest warrant was subsequently issued.[86][87] The LAPD notified Shapiro at 8:30 am that Simpson would have to turn himself in that day. At 9:30 am, Shapiro went to Kardashian's home to tell Simpson that he would have to turn himself in by 11:00 am, an hour after the murder charges were filed. Simpson told Shapiro that he wanted to turn himself in,[88] to which the police agreed, believing that someone as famous as Simpson would not attempt to flee. The police agreed to delay Simpson's surrender until noon to allow him to be seen by a mental health specialist, as he was showing signs of suicidal depression – he had updated his will, called his mother and children, and written three sealed letters: one to his children, one to his mother, and one to the public.[89] More than 1,000 reporters waited for Simpson's perp walk at the police station, but he did not arrive as stipulated. The LAPD then notified Shapiro that Simpson would be arrested at Kardashian's home. Kardashian and Shapiro told Simpson this but when the police arrived an hour later, Simpson and Al Cowlings had disappeared. The three sealed letters Simpson had written were left behind. At 1:50 pm, Commander Dave Gascon, LAPD's chief spokesman, publicly declared Simpson a fugitive; the police issued an all-points bulletin for him and an arrest warrant for Cowlings.[86][90][91]

"Suicide note"[edit]

At 5 pm, Kardashian and one of his defense lawyers read Simpson's public letter.[86][90][91] In the letter, Simpson sent greetings to 24 friends and wrote, "First everyone understand I had nothing to do with Nicole's murder". He described the fights with Brown and their decision not to reconcile their relationship, and asked the media "as a last wish" not to bother his children. He wrote to his former girlfriend Paula Barbieri, who had broken up with him hours before the double murder, "I'm sorry ... we're not going to have, our chance ... [sic] As I leave, you'll be in my thoughts". It also included "I can't go on" and an apology to the Goldman family. The letter concluded, "Don't feel sorry for me. I have had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O. J. and not this lost person".[86][90][88][92][91] Most interpreted this as a suicide note; Simpson's mother collapsed after hearing it,[86][93][63][94][95] and reporters joined the search for Simpson. At Kardashian's press conference, Shapiro said that he and Simpson's psychiatrists agreed with the suicide note interpretation. Through television, Shapiro appealed to Simpson to surrender.[96][86]

Bronco chase[edit]

Selected key locations of the Bronco chase[96][97][98]
1
Simpson's 9-1-1 call is traced to the I-5 Freeway near the Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest.
2
From a news helicopter, reporter Zoey Tur spots the Bronco near the El Toro Y interchange.
3
Cowlings turns the Bronco west onto the 91 Freeway.
4
The Bronco heads south onto I-110.
5
Cowlings takes I-405 north.
6
Cowlings takes the Sunset Boulevard exit, turning west towards Brentwood.
7
The chase ends at Simpson's Rockingham Avenue estate.

News helicopters searched the Los Angeles highway system for Al Cowlings's automobile, a white Ford Bronco.[94][91] At 5:51 pm, Simpson reportedly called 9-1-1; the call was traced to the Santa Ana Freeway, near Lake Forest. At around 6:20 pm, a motorist in Orange County notified California Highway Patrol after seeing someone believed to be Simpson in a Bronco on the I-5 freeway heading north. The police tracked calls placed by Simpson on his cell phone. At 6:45 pm, police officer Ruth Dixon saw the Bronco heading north on Interstate 405; when she caught up to it, Cowlings yelled out that Simpson was in the back seat of the vehicle and was pointing a gun at his own head.[96][86][91] The officer backed off, but followed the vehicle[99] at 35 miles per hour (56 km/h),[9] with up to 20 police cars following her in the chase.[86][100][101] Zoey Tur[93] of KCBS-TV was the first to find Simpson from a news helicopter, after colleagues heard that the FBI's mobile phone tracking had located Simpson at the El Toro Y. More than nine news helicopters eventually joined the pursuit; Tur compared the fleet to Apocalypse Now, and the high degree of media participation caused camera signals to appear on incorrect television channels.[96][91] The chase was so long that one helicopter ran out of fuel, forcing its station to ask another for a camera feed.[63]

Knowing that Cowlings was listening to KNX-AM, sports announcer Pete Arbogast called Simpson's former USC football coach John McKay and connected him to Simpson. As both men wept, Simpson told McKay, "OK, Coach, I won't do anything stupid. I promise" off the air. "There is no doubt in my mind that McKay stopped O.J. from killing himself in the back of that Bronco", Arbogast said.[95] McKay,[102][94] Walter Payton, Vince Evans,[93] and others from around the country pleaded with Simpson over radio to surrender.[86]

At Parker Center, officials discussed how to persuade Simpson to surrender peacefully. Lange, who had interviewed Simpson about the murders on June 13, realized 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 he was "the only one who deserved to get hurt" and was "just gonna go with Nicole". Simpson asked Lange to "just let me get to the house" and said "I need [the gun] for me". Cowlings's 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.[103][91] NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas, who had worked with Simpson on the network's NFL studio show, said that during the chase that Simpson had called 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City asking to speak to Costas, but Costas was several blocks away at Madison Square Garden covering Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals.[104]

Los Angeles streets emptied and drink orders stopped at bars as people watched on television.[86] Every television network showed the chase;[95] ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and local news outlets interrupted regularly scheduled programming to cover the incident, watched by an estimated 95 million viewers nationwide;[105][106][96][107] only 90 million had watched that year's Super Bowl.[63] While NBC continued to air NBA Finals coverage, Bob Costas acted as a go-between for Marv Albert, who was calling the game, and Tom Brokaw, who reported on the chase. Both events were carried in a split screen.[108] 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.[107] The chase was also broadcast internationally, including in France and China.[91]

Thousands of spectators and onlookers packed overpasses along the route of the chase, waiting for Simpson. In a festival-like atmosphere, many held signs urging Simpson to flee,[102][100][91] with slogans such as "Go O.J." and "Save the Juice".[109] Encouraging Simpson's actions outraged Jim Hill, who was among those broadcasting pleas to their friend to surrender.[86] As people watched and wondered what would happen to Simpson, one author wrote, "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".[105]

Simpson reportedly demanded that he be allowed to speak to his mother before he would surrender. The chase ended at 8:00 pm at his Brentwood estate, where his son, Jason, ran out of the house,[100] and 27 SWAT officers awaited.[63][91] After remaining in the Bronco for about 45 minutes,[102] Simpson exited at 8:50 pm and went inside for about an hour; a police spokesman stated that during this time Simpson talked to his mother on the phone.[96][86] Shapiro then 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 United States passport, family pictures, and a disguise kit with a fake goatee and mustache".[102] Simpson was booked at Parker Center and taken to Men's Central Jail; Cowlings was booked on suspicion of harboring a fugitive and held on $250,000 bail.

The Bronco chase, the suicide note, and the items found in the Bronco were not presented as evidence in the criminal trial. Marcia Clark conceded that such evidence did imply guilt yet defended her decision, citing the public reaction to the chase and suicide note as proof the trial had been compromised by Simpson's celebrity status. Most of the public, including Simpson's friend Al Michaels,[96] interpreted his actions as an admission of guilt.[110]

Simpson's mugshot, June 17, 1994

Preliminary hearing[edit]

On June 20, Simpson was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to both murders and was held without bail. The following day, a grand jury was called to determine whether to indict him for the two murders but was dismissed on June 23, as a result of excessive media coverage that could have influenced its neutrality. Instead, authorities held a probable cause hearing to determine whether to bring Simpson to trial. 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 firmly stated: "Absolutely, one hundred percent, not guilty."[citation needed]

Jill Shively testified to the grand jury that soon after the time of the murders she saw a white Ford Bronco speeding away from Bundy Drive in such a hurry that it almost collided with a Nissan at the intersection of Bundy and San Vicente Boulevard,[2] and that she recognized Simpson's voice. She talked to the television show Hard Copy for $5,000, after which prosecutors declined to use her testimony at trial.[2][107]

Jose Camacho of Ross Cutlery provided store receipts showing Simpson had purchased a 12-inch (305 mm) stiletto knife six weeks before the murders. The knife was recovered and determined to be similar to the one the coroner said caused the stab wounds. The prosecution did not present this evidence at trial, after Camacho sold his story to the National Enquirer for $12,500.[2][107] Tests on the knife determined that an oil used on new cutlery was still present on the knife, indicating it had never been used.[111]

Former NFL player and pastor Rosey Grier visited Simpson on November 13 at the Los Angeles County Jail. 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 inadmissible as being protected because of clergy-penitent privilege.[112]

At first, Simpson's defense sought to show that one or more hitmen hired by drug dealers had murdered Brown and Goldman – giving Brown a "Colombian necktie" – because they were looking for Brown's friend, Faye Resnick, a known cocaine user who had failed to pay for her drugs.[113][114] She had stayed for several days at Brown's condo until entering rehab four days before the killings. Ito ruled that the drug killer theory was "highly speculative" with no evidence to support it.[115][116] Consequently, Ito barred the jury from hearing it and prohibited Christian Reichardt from testifying about his former girlfriend Resnick's drug problems.[117][118][119][120]

Rose Lopez, a neighbor's Spanish-speaking housekeeper, stated on August 18 that she saw Simpson's Bronco parked outside his house at the time of the murders, supporting his claim he was home that night. During cross-examination by Clark, Lopez admitted she was not sure what time she saw Simpson's Bronco but the defense still intended to call her. However, a taped July 29 statement by Lopez did not mention seeing the Bronco but did mention another housekeeper was also there that night, Sylvia Guerra. Prosecutors then spoke with Guerra, who said Lopez was lying and claimed the defense offered both housekeepers $5,000 to say they saw the Bronco that night. When Ito warned the defense that Guerra's claim as well as the earlier statement not mentioning the Bronco and the tape where Clark claims "that [Lopez] is clearly being coached on what to say" would be shown to the jury if Lopez testified, they dropped her from the witness list.[121][122][123][124][125]

Media coverage[edit]

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[63]

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.[107] The case was a seminal event in the history of reality television,[63] helping to revive the genre of court shows like Judge Judy.[126] The Los Angeles Times covered the case on its front page for more than 300 days after the murders. The nightly news broadcasts from the Big Three television networks gave more air time to the case than to the Bosnian War and the Oklahoma City bombing combined. They served an enthusiastic audience; one company put the loss of national productivity from employees following the case instead of working at $40 billion.[127] 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.[128] According to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, the acquittal was "the most dramatic courtroom verdict in the history of Western civilization".[129]

Participants in the case received much media coverage. Limo driver Park said the media offered him $100,000 but refused, as he would be removed as a witness.[70] Fans approached Clark in public, 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 Paula Barbieri appeared in Playboy. Those involved in the trial followed their own media coverage. 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?"[63]

The issue of whether 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.[130] Ito was 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.[131] Ito was also criticized for allowing the trial to become a media circus and not doing enough to regulate the court proceedings.[132]

Among the reporters who covered the trial daily from the courtroom, and a media-area that was dubbed "Camp O. J.",[133] 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.

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.[134][135] Time's cover image was darker than a typical magazine cover and darker than the original photo, as shown on a Newsweek cover released at the same time. Time consequently became the subject of a media scandal.[136] Commentators found that its staff had used photo manipulation to darken the photo, and they 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.[137][134][138]

Charles Ogletree, a criminal defense attorney and law professor, said in a 2005 interview that the best investigative reporting regarding the murder and trial was by the National Enquirer.[139]

Trial[edit]

Judge Lance Ito presided over the trial

Simpson wanted a speedy trial, and the defense and prosecuting attorneys worked around the clock for several months to prepare their cases. The trial began on January 24, 1995, seven months after the murders, and was televised by closed-circuit TV camera via Court TV, and in part by other cable and network news outlets, for 134 days. Judge Lance Ito presided over the trial in the C.S. Foltz Criminal Courts Building.

Jury[edit]

District Attorney Gil Garcetti elected to file charges in downtown Los Angeles, as opposed to Santa Monica, in which jurisdiction the crimes took place.[140] The Los Angeles Superior Court then decided to hold the trial in Downtown Los Angeles instead of Santa Monica due to safety issues at the Santa Monica Court house owing to the 1994 Northridge earthquake.[141] The decision resulted in a jury pool that was more diverse, mainly consisting of African Americans.[142] Richard Gabriel, a jury consultant noted that African Americans were far more likely than other minorities to be receptive to claims of racially motivated fraud by the police.[140]

C.S. Foltz Criminal Courts Building

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. 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.[143]

According to media reports, Clark believed women, regardless of race, would sympathize with the domestic violence aspect of the case and connect with Brown personally. On the other hand, the defense's research suggested that black women would not be sympathetic to Brown, 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 percent white, 28 percent black, 17 percent Hispanic, and 15 percent Asian, the final jury for the trial had ten women and two men, of whom nine were black, two white, and one Hispanic.[144][145][clarification needed]

On April 5, 1995, juror Jeanette Harris was dismissed when Judge Ito learned she had failed to disclose an incident of domestic abuse.[146] Afterwards, Harris gave an interview and accused the deputies of racism and claimed the jurors were dividing themselves along racial lines. Ito then met with the jurors, who all denied Harris's allegations of racial tension among themselves. The following day, Ito dismissed the three deputies anyway, which upset the jurors that did not complain because the dismissal appeared to lend credence to Harris's allegations, which they all denied.[147] On April 21, thirteen of the eighteen jurors refused to come to court until they spoke with Ito about it. Ito then ordered them to court and the 13 protesters responded by wearing all black and refusing to come out to the jury box upon arrival.[148] The media described this incident as a "Jury Revolt" and the protesters wearing all black as resembling a "funeral procession".[149][150][151][152]

Prosecution case[edit]

The two lead prosecutors were Deputy District Attorneys Marcia Clark and William Hodgman, who was replaced as lead prosecutor by Christopher Darden. Clark was designated as the lead prosecutor and Darden became Clark's co-counsel. Prosecutors Hank Goldberg and Hodgman, who had successfully prosecuted high-profile cases in the past, assisted Clark and Darden. Two prosecutors who were DNA experts, Rockne Harmon and George "Woody" Clarke, were brought in to present the DNA evidence in the case and were assisted by Prosecutor Lisa Kahn.[153][154][155]

Theory[edit]

The prosecution argued that the domestic violence within the Simpson-Brown marriage culminated in her murder.[156] Simpson's history of abusing Brown resulted in their divorce and his pleading guilty to one count of domestic violence in 1989.[157] On the night of the murders, Simpson attended a dance recital for his daughter and was reportedly angry with Brown because of a black dress that she wore, which he said was "tight". Simpson's then girlfriend, Paula Barbieri, wanted to attend the recital with Simpson but he did not invite her. After the recital, Simpson returned home to a voicemail from Barbieri ending their relationship.

According to the prosecution, Simpson then drove over to Brown's home in his Ford Bronco to reconcile their relationship as a result and when Brown refused, Simpson killed her in a "final act of control". Goldman then came upon the scene and was murdered in order to silence him and remove any witnesses. Afterwards, Simpson drove home in his Bronco, and he went into his house. There, he took off his bloodstained clothes, put them in the knapsack (except his socks and the glove), put clean ones on, and left towards the limousine. At the airport, Simpson opened the knapsack, removed the clothes, Bruno Magli shoes, and the murder weapon, and threw them in the trash, before putting the knapsack in one of his suitcases and heading towards his flight.[158][159][160]

Domestic violence[edit]

The prosecution opened its case by calling LAPD 911 dispatcher Sharon Gilbert and playing a 9-1-1 call from Brown on January 1, 1989, in which she expressed fear that Simpson would physically harm her; Simpson himself is even heard in the background yelling at her and possibly hitting her as well. The officer who responded to that call, Detective John Edwards, testified next that when he arrived, a severely beaten Brown ran from the bushes where she was hiding and to the detective screaming "He's going to kill me, he's going to kill me", referring to Simpson. Pictures of Brown's face from that night were then shown to the jury to confirm his testimony. That incident led to Simpson's arrest and eventual pleading of no contest to one count of domestic violence for which he received probation for one year.[161]

LAPD officer and long time friend of both Simpson and Brown, Ron Shipp, testified on February 1, 1995, that Simpson told him the day after the murders that he did not want to take a polygraph test offered to him by the police, because "I've had a lot of dreams about killing her. I really don't know about taking that thing". The jury dismissed Shipp's claims after defense attorney Carl E. Douglas accused him of being an alcoholic, and testifying against Simpson to promote his acting career.[161]

The prosecution then called Nicole Brown's sister, Denise Brown, to the witness stand. She testified to many episodes of domestic violence in the 1980s, when she saw Simpson physically abuse Brown and throw her out of their house during an argument. She said that Simpson was agitated with Brown on June 12.[162] Although a home videotape taken immediately after the dance recital showed a cheerful Simpson being given a kiss by Denise Brown,[163] Kato Kaelin corroborated the claim that Simpson was "upset" with Brown because of the black dress she wore, which he said was "tight".[68]

The prosecution planned to present 62 separate incidents of domestic violence, including three previously unknown incidents Brown had documented in several letters she had written and placed in a bank safety deposit box. Judge Ito denied the defense's motion to suppress the incidents of domestic violence, but only allowed witnessed accounts to be presented to the jury because of Simpson's Sixth Amendment rights. Brown's statements to friends and family were ruled inadmissible as hearsay because Brown was dead and unable to be cross-examined. Despite this, the prosecution had witnesses for 44 separate incidents they planned to present to the jury.[164]

However, the prosecution dropped the domestic violence portion of their case on June 20, 1995.[165] Marcia Clark stated it was because they believed the DNA evidence against Simpson was insurmountable, but the media speculated it was because of the comments made by dismissed juror Jeanette Harris. Christopher Darden later confirmed that to be true.[166] Harris was dismissed on April 6 because she failed to disclose that she was a victim of domestic violence from her ex-husband.[167] Afterwards, she gave an interview in which she said the evidence of Simpson's abuse of Brown "doesn't mean he is guilty of murder". This dismissal of Simpson's abusive behavior from a female juror, who was also a victim of such abuse by her own husband, convinced the prosecution that the jury was not receptive to the domestic violence argument.[168][169] After the verdict, the jurors called the domestic violence portion of the case a "waste of time".[170] Shapiro, Dershowitz, and Uelmen later admitted they believe that race played a factor in the jurors' dismissal of Brown's abuse by Simpson.[171][172]

The defense retained renowned advocate for victims of domestic abuse Lenore E. Walker.[173] Cochran said that she would testify that Simpson does not fit the profile of an abuser that would murder his spouse.[174] Walker's colleagues were appalled by her decision to defend Simpson and accused her of betraying her advocacy for a $250,000 retainer.[175] Walker was dropped from the witness list for "tactical reasons" after she submitted her report on the case.[176][177] In it, she opines that the statistic from Dershowitz that of the two million incidents of abuse per year, only 2,000 victims are actually murdered by their spouses as being misleading because Brown was already dead.[178][179] The relevant statistic was "of the murdered spouses who were also victims of abuse, what percentage of them were murdered by their current or ex-husband?" When she reported that number was 80.3 percent, they dropped her from the witness list.[180]

The revelation of Simpson's abuse of Brown is credited with turning public opinion against him.[178] The public shock at the reason why Walker was dropped from the defense witness list is credited with transforming public opinion on spousal abuse from a private familial matter to a serious public health issue.[181][182][183]

Timeline[edit]

Los Angeles County Chief Medical Examiner Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran testified on June 14, 1995, that Brown's time of death was estimated as between 10:00 pm and 10:30 pm.[184][185] Kato Kaelin testified on March 22, 1995, that he last saw Simpson at 9:36 pm that evening. A phone call was made from Simpson's Bronco to Paula Barbieri at 10:02 pm. Simpson was not seen again until 10:54 pm when he answered the intercom at the front door for the limousine driver, Allan Park.[186][187] Simpson had no alibi for approximately one hour and 18 minutes during which time the murders took place.[188] Allan Park testified on March 28 that he arrived at Simpson's home at 10:25 pm and stopped at the Rockingham entrance; Simpson's Bronco was not there.[189] He then drove over to the Ashford entrance and rang the intercom three times, getting no answer, starting at 10:40 pm.[190]

Park's testimony was significant because it explained the location of the glove found at Simpson's home.[191] The blood trail from the Bronco to the front door was easily understood but the glove was found on the other side of the house. Park said the "shadowy figure" initially approached the front door before heading down the southern walkway which leads to where the glove was found by Fuhrman. The prosecution believed that Simpson had driven his Bronco to and from Brown's home to commit the murders, saw that Park was there and aborted his attempt to enter through the front door, entering through the back instead.[192] He panicked and made the sounds that Kaelin heard when he realized that the security system would not let him enter through the rear entrance.[193] He then discarded the glove, came back and went through the front door.[13] During cross examination, Park conceded that he could not identify the figure but said he saw that person enter the front door and afterwards Simpson answered and said he was home alone. Park conceded that he did not notice any cuts on Simpson's left hand but added "I shook his right hand, not his left".[188]

DNA evidence and blood trail[edit]

Crime scene photo at Brown's home.

The prosecution presented a total of 108 exhibits, including 61 drops of blood,[194] of DNA evidence to link Simpson to the murders. With no witnesses to the crime, the prosecution was dependent on DNA as the only physical evidence linking Simpson to the crime.[155] The volume of DNA evidence in this case was unique and the prosecution believed they could reconstruct how the crime was committed with enough accuracy to resemble an eyewitness account.[194][195] Marcia Clark stated in her opening statements that there was a "trail of blood from the Bundy Crime scene through Simpson's Ford Bronco to his bedroom at Rockingham".[196]

  • Simpson's DNA found on blood drops next to the bloody footprints near the victims at the Bundy crime scene.[197] The prosecution stated that the probability of error was 1-in-9.7 billion.[155]
  • Simpson's DNA found on a trail of blood drops leading away from the victims, towards and on the back gate at Bundy.[198] The prosecution stated that the probability of error was 1-in-200.[199]
  • Simpson, Goldman, and Brown's DNA found on blood on the outside of the door and inside Simpson's Bronco. The prosecution stated that the probability of error was 1-in-21 billion.[200]
  • Simpson's DNA found on blood drops leading from the area where his Bronco was parked at Simpson's Rockingham home to the front door entrance.[201]
  • Simpson, Brown, and Goldman's DNA on a bloody glove found behind his home.[202]
  • Simpson and Brown's DNA found on blood on a pair of socks in Simpson's bedroom. The prosecution stated that the probability of error was 1-in-6.8 billion.[203]

Hair and fiber evidence[edit]

LAPD criminalist and hair fiber expert Susan Brockbank testified on June 27, 1995, and FBI Special Agent and fiber expert Doug Deedrick testified on June 29, 1995, to the following findings:[204][205]

  • The fibers from the glove found at Simpson's home were microscopically similar to the one found at the crime scene.[206][207]
  • Both of the victims, the two gloves, and the blue knit cap worn by the killer had hair consistent[further explanation needed] with Simpson.[208] The hair in the blue knit cap worn by the killer was embedded in the seams, indicating it was there from being worn repeatedly.[209][210]
  • Dark blue cotton clothing fibers were found on both victims. The video from the dance recital that Simpson attended earlier that night shows him wearing a similarly colored shirt. Kato Kaelin testified that Simpson was still wearing that shirt when they got home from McDonald's but not anymore when he answered the door for the limousine driver. The police searched his home but the shirt was never found.[13][211][212]
  • Hair consistent with Goldman was found on Brown and clothing fibers consistent with Brown was found on Goldman. This supported the prosecution's theory that the assailant killed Brown first, then Goldman, and afterwards returned to Brown to cut her throat. The hair consistent with Brown that was found on the Rockingham glove was torn which also supports the prosecution claim that the killer grabbed Brown by her hair to cut her throat.[213]
  • Fibers that were only used in the 1993-1994 model year Ford Bronco, the same car that Simpson owns, were found on both victims, the knit cap and on both gloves.[214][215][216][217]
  • The glove found at Simpson's home that belonged to the murderer had hair and clothing fibers consistent with Simpson, Brown and Goldman as well as fibers from a 1993–1994 Ford Bronco and Brown's Akita dog.[218][219][220]

Shoeprint analysis[edit]

In June, FBI shoeprint expert William J. Bodziak testified that the bloody shoeprints found at the crime scene and inside Simpson's Bronco were made from a rare and expensive pair of Bruno Magli Italian shoes. He determined the shoes were a size 12, the same size that Simpson wore, and are only sold at Bloomingdales. Only 299 pairs of that size were sold in the US and one of them was sold at the same store that Simpson often buys his shoes from. Bodziak also testified that, despite two sets of footprints at the crime scene, only one attacker was present because they were all made by the same shoes. During cross-examination Bailey suggested the murderer deliberately wore shoes that were the wrong size, which Bodziak dismissed as "ridiculous".[165][221][222][223][224]

Simpson denied ever owning a pair of the shoes; there was only circumstantial evidence he did.[225] Bloomingdales employee Samuel Poser testified he remembered showing Simpson those shoes, but there was no store record of him purchasing them.[226] Although the prosecution could not prove that Simpson owned a pair of those shoes, Bodziak testified that a similar bloody shoeprint was left on the floor inside Simpson's Bronco. Scheck suggested that Fuhrman broke into the Bronco and left the footprint there; he produced a photo of Fuhrman walking through a puddle of blood. Bodziak admitted that he was not able to confirm that the shoeprint in the car definitely came from a Bruno Magli shoe, but dismissed Scheck's claim because none of the shoeprints at the crime scene were made by Fuhrman's shoes, making it unlikely he could have made a bloody shoeprint in the Bronco.[227][228]

Defense case[edit]

Johnnie Cochran

Simpson hired a team of high-profile defense lawyers, initially led by Robert Shapiro, who was previously a civil lawyer known for settling, and then subsequently by Johnnie Cochran, who at that point was known for police brutality and civil rights cases.[229] The team included noted defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, Robert Kardashian, Harvard appeals lawyer Alan Dershowitz, his student Robert Blasier, and Dean of Santa Clara University School of Law Gerald Uelmen. Assisting Cochran were Carl E. Douglas and Shawn Holley. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were also hired; they headed the Innocence Project and specialized in DNA evidence. Simpson's defense was said to have cost between US$3-6 million; the media dubbed the talented attorneys the Dream Team,[230][231] while the taxpayer cost of prosecution was over US$9 million.[232]

Postulate[edit]

The defense team's reasonable doubt angle was summarized as "compromised, contaminated, corrupted" in opening statements.[233][161] They argued the DNA evidence against Simpson was compromised by the mishandling of members of the LAPD, including criminalists Dennis Fung and Andrea Mazzola during the collection phase of evidence gathering, and that 100% of the DNA of the real killer(s) had vanished from the evidence samples.[234] Simpson willingly provided the LAPD with a blood sample on June 13, which detective Philip Vannatter took to Simpson’s home on June 14 while evidence was allegedly being collected, rather than booking it into evidence at the station. Vannatter admitted this was not procedural and was something he had never done in any other case. The defense argued that evidence was then contaminated in the LAPD crime lab by criminalist Collin Yamauchi and that Simpson's DNA from his reference vial was transferred to all but three exhibits.[235] The remaining three exhibits were planted by the police and thus corrupted by police fraud.[236] This theory was further perpetuated after lead detective Mark Fuhrman refused to answer questions, specifically the question asking if he had planted or manufactured any evidence. The defense also questioned the timeline, claiming the murders happened around 11:00 pm that night.[237]

Timeline[edit]

The physician Robert Huizenga testified in July 1995[238] that Simpson was not physically capable of carrying out the murders due to chronic arthritis and old football injuries. During cross-examination, the prosecution produced an exercise video that Simpson had made a few weeks before the murders titled O.J. Simpson Minimum Maintenance: Fitness for Men, which demonstrated that Simpson was anything but frail.[239] Huizenga admitted afterwards that Simpson could have committed the murders if he was in "the throes of an adrenaline-rush".[240]

Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist, testified that the murders[241] happened closer to 11:00 pm.[242] He stated that Brown was still conscious, standing, and took a step after her throat was cut[243] and that after Goldman's jugular vein was lacerated he continued to stand and fight his assailant for ten minutes.[244][245]

After the trial, Baden admitted his claim of Goldman's long struggle was inaccurate[246][247] and that testifying for Simpson was a mistake.[248] Critics claimed that Baden knowingly gave false testimony in order to collect a $100,000 retainer[249][250][251] because the week before he testified, John Gerdes admitted[252] that Goldman's blood was found in Simpson's Bronco[253] despite Goldman never having an opportunity within his lifetime to be in the Bronco.[254]

Nicole's mother, Juditha, told police and investigators in a sworn statement that she was speaking with her daughter on the telephone at 11:00pm that night.[255] Those phone records were sealed. Also, Brown Simpson had a vat of ice cream that was still partially frozen sitting on the downstairs bannister when police searched the house around 12:30am June 13, 1994.[256][257][258]

Compromised and contaminated[edit]

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld argued that the results from the DNA testing were not reliable because the police were "sloppy" in collecting and preserving it from the crime scene.[62][259] Fung and Mazzola did admit to making several mistakes during evidence collection, which included not always changing gloves between handling evidence items, packaging and storing the evidence items using plastic bags rather than paper bags as recommended, and storing evidence in the police van, which was not refrigerated, for up to seven hours after collection.[146][147][148][149][260] This, the defense argued, would allow bacteria to degrade the DNA and thus make the samples more susceptible to cross-contamination in the LAPD crime lab.[261]

The prosecution denied that the mistakes made by Fung and Mazzola changed the validity of the results.[62] They noted that all of the evidence samples were testable and that most of the DNA testing was done at the two consulting labs, not the LAPD crime lab where contamination supposedly happened. Since all of the samples the consulting labs received were testable, while Scheck and Neufeld's theory predicted that they should have been inconclusive after being "100% degraded", the claim that all the DNA was lost to bacterial degradation was not credible.[262] The prosecution also denied that contamination happened in the LAPD crime lab because the result would have been a mixture of Simpson's DNA and the DNA of the "real killer(s)", but the results showed that only Simpson's DNA was present.[263] The prosecution also noted the defense declined to challenge any of those results by testing the evidence themselves.[62][259][264] Marcia Clark called Scheck and Neufeld's claims a "smoke-screen".[265][266]

The contamination claim was made by microbiologist John Gerdes.[267] He testified in August 1995 that Forensic PCR DNA matching is not reliable[268][269][270][271] and that the LAPD crime lab has a "chronic", "substantial contamination problem".[262] Gerdes testified that because of the LAPD's past history of contamination, he would not consider any of the PCR DNA matches in this case reliable. He also claimed that the consulting labs' PCR DNA matches were not reliable, as the evidence they tested went "through the LAPD" for packaging and shipping.[262] Gerdes believed only three of the DNA matches to have been valid, which were the same three the defense alleged were planted by the police.[263][272][273][274]

During cross-examination, Gerdes admitted there was no evidence that cross-contamination had occurred and that he was only testifying to "what might occur and not what actually did occur". He accepted that the victims' blood was in the Bronco and Simpson's blood was at the crime scene and neither was due to contamination. He also conceded that nothing happened during "packaging and shipping" that would affect the validity of the results at the two consulting labs. The prosecution implied that Gerdes was not a credible witness: he had no forensic experience, had only testified for criminal defendants in the past, and always said the DNA evidence against them was not reliable due to contamination. Clark also implied that it was not a coincidence that the three evidence items he initially said were valid were the same three the defense claimed were planted while the other 58 were all false positives and the 47 substrate controls, which are used to determine if contamination occurred, were all false negatives.[275][276] Defense forensic DNA expert Henry Lee, testifying in August 1995, admitted that Gerdes's claim was "highly improbable".[277][278][268][279]

Barry Scheck's eight-day cross-examination of Dennis Fung was lauded in the media.[280] However, Howard Coleman, president of Seattle-based forensic DNA laboratory GeneLex, criticized Scheck's cross-examination as "smoke and mirrors", stating: "Everything we get in the lab is contaminated to some degree. What contamination and degradation will lead you to is an inconclusive result. It doesn't lead you to a false positive".[281]

Police conspiracy allegation[edit]

The defense initially only claimed that three exhibits were planted by the police[282] but eventually argued that virtually all of the blood evidence against Simpson was planted in a police conspiracy.[283][284][285] They accused prison nurse Thano Peratis,[286] criminalists Dennis Fung,[147] Andrea Mazzola,[149] and Colin Yamauchi,[235] and Vannatter[287] and Fuhrman,[288] of participating in a plot to frame Simpson. In closing arguments, Cochran called Fuhrman and Vannatter "twins of deception",[289] Vannatter "the man who carried the blood"[290] and Fuhrman "the man who found the glove".[291]

EDTA[edit]

The only physical evidence offered by the defense that the police tried to frame Simpson was the allegation that two of the 108 DNA evidence samples tested in the case contained the preservative Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). However, it was the prosecution who asked to have the samples tested for the preservative, not the defense.[292] The defense alleged that the drop of blood on the back gate at the Bundy crime scene, which matched Simpson, and the blood found on a pair of socks in Simpson's bedroom, which matched Brown, were planted by the police. In order to support this claim, the defense pointed to the presence in the blood samples of EDTA, a preservative found in the purple-topped collection tubes used for police reference vials. In July 1995, Fredric Rieders, a forensic toxicologist who had analysed the FBI's results, testified that the level of EDTA in the evidence samples was higher than that which is normally found in blood: this appeared to support the defense's claim that the blood came from the reference vials.[293][294] During cross-examination, Clark asked Rieders to read out loud the portion of the EPA article that stated what the normal levels of EDTA in blood are, which he had referenced during his testimony.[295] This demonstrated that he had misread the article and that the levels found in the evidence samples were consistent with those found in blood that was not preserved in a police reference vial.[296] Rieders then claimed it was a "typo",[297][298] but the prosecution produced a direct copy from the EPA confirming the normal amounts of EDTA found in unpreserved blood.[296][299] The prosecution also had Rieders admit that EDTA is found in food[300] and specifically the ingredients used in the McDonald's Big Mac and french fries[295] that Simpson had eaten earlier that night.[299]

FBI special agent Roger Martz was called by the defense in July 1995 to testify that EDTA was present in the evidence samples. Instead, he said he did not identify it in the blood, contradicting Rieders' testimony.[301][302] Initially he conceded the blood samples were "consistent with the presence of EDTA", but he later clarified his response after hearing that "everyone is saying that I found EDTA", which he denied. The defense accused him of changing his demeanor to favor the prosecution, and he replied: "I cannot be entirely truthful by only giving 'yes' and 'no' answers".[303] Martz stated that it was impossible to ascertain with certainty the presence of EDTA, as while the presumptive test for it was positive, the identification test for it was inconclusive. He also tested his own unpreserved blood and got the same results for EDTA levels as the evidence samples, which he said conclusively disproved the claim that the evidence blood came from the reference vials.[304] He contended that the defense had jumped to conclusions from the presumptive test results, while his tests had in fact shown that "those bloodstains did not come from preserved blood".[305][306]

Back gate[edit]

The defense alleged that Simpson's blood on the back gate at the Bundy crime scene was planted by the police. The blood on the back gate was collected on July 3, 1994, rather than June 13.[307] The volume of DNA in that blood was significantly higher than the other blood evidence collected on June 13. The volume of DNA was so high that the defense conceded that it could not be explained by contamination in the lab. However, they noted that it was unusual for that blood to have more DNA in it than the other samples collected at the crime scene, especially since it had been left exposed to the elements for several weeks and was collected after the crime scene had supposedly been washed over. In March 1995, Vannatter testified that he instructed Fung to collect the blood on the gate on June 13 and Fung admitted he had not done so.[308] The defense suggested the reason why Fung did not collect the blood is because it was not there that day; when shown a blown-up photograph taken of the back gate on June 13, he admitted he could not see the blood.[309]

The prosecution responded that a different photograph showed the blood was present on the back gate on June 13, before any blood had been taken from Simpson's arm.[62][310][311] Robert Riske was the first officer at the crime scene and the one who pointed out the blood on the back gate to Fuhrman, who documented it in his notes that night.[312] Multiple other officers testified that the blood was present on the back gate the night of the murders.[290] The prosecution also pointed out that the media cameras present proved that Vannatter never returned to Brown's home that evening, where Simpson's blood was allegedly planted.[313]

Bronco[edit]

Barry Scheck alleged the police had twice planted the victims' blood inside Simpson's Bronco. An initial collection was made on June 13; the defense accused Vannatter of planting the victims' blood in the Bronco when he returned to Simpson's home later that evening. The prosecution responded that the Bronco had already been impounded by the time Vannatter returned and was not even at Rockingham.[314]

Socks[edit]

The defense alleged that the police had planted Brown's blood on the socks found in Simpson's bedroom. The socks were collected on June 13 and had blood from both Simpson and Brown, but her blood on the socks was not identified until August 4.[315] The socks were found by Fuhrman, but the defense suggested Vannatter planted the blood. He had received both blood reference vials from the victims earlier that day from the coroner and booked them immediately into evidence. Vannatter then drove back to Rockingham later that evening to hand-deliver the reference vial for Simpson to Fung, which the defense alleged gave him opportunity to plant the blood. Fung testified he could not see blood on the socks he collected from Simpson's bedroom,[147] and the prosecution later demonstrated that those blood stains were only visible underneath a microscope.

Vannatter denied planting Brown's blood on the socks. The video from Willie Ford indicated that the socks had already been collected and stored in the evidence van before Vannatter arrived and footage from the media cameras present appeared to prove that he never went inside the evidence van after he arrived at Rockingham.[316]

Glove[edit]

The last exhibit allegedly planted was the bloody glove found at Simpson's property by Fuhrman.[317] Unlike the sock and the back gate, the defense provided no physical or eyewitness evidence to support their claim that the prosecution could then refute.[318][319] The New Yorker published an article months before the trial began which cited a source in Simpson's defense team as saying that they intended to accuse Fuhrman of planting the glove, with the motive being racism. Robert Shapiro later admitted he was the magazine's source.[320]

Mark Fuhrman

Defense attorney F. Lee Bailey suggested that Fuhrman found the glove at the crime scene, picked it up with a stick, placed it in a plastic bag, and concealed it in his sock when he drove to Simpson's home with Lange, Vannatter, and Phillips. Bailey suggested that Fuhrman then planted the glove to frame Simpson, with the motive being either racism or a desire to become the hero in a high-profile case.[321] Scheck suggested that Fuhrman broke into the Bronco and used the glove to plant blood onto and inside the Bronco.[322]

The prosecution denied that Fuhrman planted the glove. They noted that several officers had already combed over the crime scene for almost two hours before Fuhrman arrived and none had noticed a second glove. Lange testified that 14 other officers were there when Fuhrman arrived and all said there was only one glove at the scene.[323] Lt. Frank Spangler also testified that he was with Fuhrman for the duration of his time there, saying he would have seen Fuhrman steal the glove. Clark added that Fuhrman did not know whether Simpson had an alibi, if there were any witnesses to the murders, whose blood was on the glove, that the Bronco belonged to Simpson, or whether Kaelin had already searched the area where the glove was found.[324][325][326]

During cross-examination by Bailey,[327] Fuhrman denied that he had used the word "nigger" to describe African Americans in the ten years prior to his testimony.[327] A few months later, the defense presented audiotapes of Fuhrman repeatedly using the word eight years before the murders. The Fuhrman tapes became the cornerstone of the defense's case that his testimony lacked credibility. Clark called the tapes "the biggest red herring" ever.[288]

After screenwriter Laura Hart McKinny handed over the tapes to the defense, Fuhrman says he asked the prosecution for a redirect to explain the context of those tapes but the prosecution and fellow officers abandoned him after Ito played the audiotapes in open court.[328] The public reaction was explosive, comparable to the reaction to the video of the King beating.[329] After the trial, Fuhrman said that he was not a racist and apologized for his language, claiming he was play-acting for a screenplay when he made the tapes and had been asked to be as dramatic as possible.[330] Many of his minority former coworkers expressed support for him.[331]

On September 6, 1995, Fuhrman was called back to the stand by the defense after the prosecution refused to redirect him. The jury was absent but the exchange was televised. Fuhrman, facing a possible prosecution for perjury, was instructed by his attorney to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination to two consecutive questions he was asked.[332][333][334][335] Defense attorney Uelmen asked Fuhrman if it was his intention to plead the Fifth to all questions, and Fuhrman's attorney instructed him to reply "yes". Uelmen spoke with other members of the defense and then said he had just one more question: "Did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case?" Following his attorney's instruction, Fuhrman again invoked the Fifth.[citation needed]

Cochran responded to Fuhrman's pleading the Fifth by accusing the other officers of conspiring to protect Fuhrman; he asked Judge Ito to suppress all of the evidence that Fuhrman found. Ito denied the request, stating that pleading the Fifth does not imply guilt and that there was no evidence of fraud. Cochran asked that the jury be allowed to hear Fuhrman taking the Fifth, and again Ito denied his request. Ito criticized the defense's theory of how Fuhrman allegedly planted the glove, stating it was illogical.[336]

Simpson trying on the gloves, June 15, 1995

On June 15, 1995, Darden surprised Clark by asking Simpson to try on the gloves found at the crime scene and his home. The prosecution had earlier decided against asking Simpson to try them on because the gloves had been soaked in blood from Simpson, Brown, and Goldman,[62] and frozen and unfrozen several times. Instead they presented a witness who testified that Brown had purchased a pair of those gloves in the same size in 1990 at Bloomingdales for Simpson, along with a receipt and a photo of Simpson earlier wearing the same type of gloves.[337]

The leather gloves appeared too tight for Simpson to put on easily, especially over the latex gloves he wore underneath. Clark claimed that Simpson was acting when he appeared to be struggling to put on the gloves. Cochran replied, "I don't think he could act the size of his hands".[13][337] Darden then told 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".[338][339] Cochran informed Ito the next day that Shawn Chapman contacted the Los Angeles County Jail doctor, who confirmed Simpson was taking his arthritis medication every day, and that the jail's medical records verified this.[340]

In a June 28, 1995, memo to Cochran, Uelmen came up with—and Cochran later repeated—a quip he used in his closing arguments: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit". In his memo to Cochran, Uelmen noted that the phrase not only applied to the gloves but to the evidence presented by the prosecutors:[341]

What the memo really tries to do is play off the jury instructions... I thought that instruction on circumstantial evidence [CALJIC 2.01] was just incredibly good for us, so when we knew that instruction was going to be given, it just popped out at me. It says if it doesn't fit, you must acquit. What I was trying to do is not just remind the jury of that moment in the trial of trying on the glove, but the whole concept of did the evidence really fit the story that the prosecution was trying to present.

The prosecution stated they believed the gloves shrank from having been soaked in the blood of the victims.[13] This model of gloves was made out of leather, which, as confirmed by Richard Rubin, can shrink up to 15% after being exposed to moisture and can never return to its original size.[342] Darden produced a new pair of the same type of gloves, which fit Simpson when he tried them on.[343] Rubin was a former vice president of Aris Isotoner Inc., which makes the gloves in question. On September 12, 1995, Rubin testified he was "100 certain" that the gloves at the murder scene—and also the style of gloves which Simpson was seen wearing in photographs and football broadcasts between 1991 and 1994—were of the company's rare Aris Light model and that they appeared to have shrunk.[344][345] Rubin also noted that another pair of similar gloves which Simpson could be seen wearing during a football broadcast were noticeably absorbing rain water.[345]

After the trial, Cochran revealed that Bailey had goaded Darden into asking Simpson to try on the gloves[346] and that Shapiro had told Simpson in advance that they would not fit.[347]

Summation[edit]

In closing arguments, Darden ridiculed the notion that police officers might have wanted to frame Simpson.[2] 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. Darden noted the police did not arrest Simpson for five days after the 1994 murders.[2] During the prosecution's closing argument, Cochran and Scheck very notably objected seventy-one times in order to lessen its effect on the jury,[citation needed] and though Ito overruled sixty-nine of them, he did not once admonish Cochran or Scheck or threaten them with contempt of court for their behavior.[citation needed]

During his closing argument, Cochran pointed out the many flaws of the LAPD, particularly Fuhrman, Lange, and Vannatter. He emphasized that Fuhrman was proved to have repeatedly referred to black people as "niggers" and also to have boasted of beating young black men in his role as a police officer. Cochran compared Fuhrman to Adolf Hitler and referred to him as "the personification of evil", and claimed that Fuhrman had planted the glove in an attempt to frame Simpson for the murders, based on his dislike of interracial couples. Cochran also presented a piece of paper named "Vannatter's Big Lies", claiming Vannatter had returned to the crime scene with Simpson's blood to plant it there, despite Vannatter having previously testified that he had given it to Dennis Fung in order to avoid the exhibits from getting mixed up. Cochran referred to Fuhrman and Vannatter as the "two devils of deception", and implored the jurors to "stop this cover-up" and "acquit Simpson and send the police a message", which was interpreted by many as an appeal for a jury nullification.[2]

Following his summation, Cochran received numerous death threats, and hired bodyguards from Louis Farrakhan. In response, Fred Goldman, who was himself Jewish, referred to Cochran himself as a racist and a "sick man" for comparing Fuhrman to Hitler while associating himself with Farrakhan, who was widely considered a black supremacist and anti-Semite. Robert Shapiro, also Jewish, said he was offended by Cochran comparing Fuhrman's claims to the Holocaust. In an interview regarding Vincent Bugliosi's analysis on the case, Vannatter claimed that he was so infuriated at Cochran's claims about him that he felt a desire to strangle him in the courtroom.[citation needed]

Verdict[edit]

Fears grew that race riots, similar to the riots in 1992, would erupt across Los Angeles and the rest of the country if Simpson were convicted of the murders. 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. President Bill Clinton was briefed on security measures if rioting were to occur nationwide.

The only testimony that the jury reviewed was that of limo driver Park.[70] At 10:07 a.m. on October 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted on both counts of murder. The jury arrived at the verdict by 3:00 pm on October 2, after four hours of deliberation, but it postponed the announcement.[131] After the verdict was read, juror number nine, 44-year-old Lionel Cryer, gave Simpson a Black Power raised fist salute.[348] 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".[349]

An estimated 100 million people worldwide watched or listened to the verdict's announcement. Long-distance telephone call volume declined by 58 percent, and trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange decreased by 41 percent. Water usage decreased as people avoided using bathrooms. So much work stopped that the verdict resulted in an estimated $480 million in lost production.[350] The US 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 Joe Lieberman telling reporters, "Not only would you not be here, but I wouldn't be here, either".[351]

Acquittal and aftermath[edit]

African-American LAPD Police Chief Willie Williams indicated that he had no plans to reopen the investigation, saying of the acquittals, "It doesn't mean there's another murderer". The LAPD has also declined to reexamine the evidence with modern methods in recent years because Simpson could not be tried for the same crime again under the Fifth Amendment.[352][353]

Legislative changes[edit]

The strong public reaction to Brown's letters and statements describing her abuse[354] spurred passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, which Clark and Douglas referred to as the "O.J. rule".[355][356][357] After the trial, researchers reported increased reporting, arrests, and harsher sentences for those convicted of domestic violence.[358]

Analysis of polling data[edit]

After the verdict, polling showed that 75 percent of White Americans thought Simpson was guilty while 70 percent of Black Americans thought he was innocent.[359][360] An NBC poll taken in 2004 reported 87 percent of Whites believed Simpson was guilty, compared to only 27 percent of Black respondents.[361] In the 2010s, polling showed the gap had narrowed, with a majority of both now believing he was guilty: 83 percent of White and 57 percent of Black Americans.[362][363]

Political impact and civil rights[edit]

Scholarly consensus is that the trial damaged race relations in America[364] and point to polling which shows that belief in Simpson's guilt depended on the race of the individual and not on the evidence against him.[365] Analysis of the "racial gap" in polling shows that it did not cross the political spectrum. Conservatives regardless of race or gender thought Simpson was guilty. Where the gap emerged was among liberals – with black liberals believing Simpson was innocent, while white liberals thought he was guilty.[366] Stanford University Law Professor Richard Thompson Ford wrote that this made the verdict a wedge issue that divided liberals along racial lines as white liberals felt the verdict was a racially motivated jury nullification and resented the images of African Americans celebrating the verdict.[367] Led by Ward Connerly, opponents of affirmative action, seized upon the division and rebranded as advocating race neutrality, which appealed to white liberals now due to their perceived unjustness of the verdict[368] and in 1996 voters in California passed Proposition 209, which ended affirmative action programs in the state.[369][370][371] A historic drop in diversity at the University of California system followed[372] which resulted in a similar drop in diversity that still remains[373] in the state's white-collar job market, especially in the high-tech hub of Silicon Valley.[374][375] A further initiative rejected by voters, Proposition 54 in 2003, would have further increased the impact of Prop 209 by abolishing racial classifications so the drop in diversity couldn't be quantified.[376][377][378] The murder of George Floyd revived empathy for racial injustice among white liberals[379][380][381] but the unsuccessful attempt to repeal Proposition 209 in 2020 was credited to the trial's legacy of undermining race relations.[382][383][384][385]

Polling shows that racial and ethnic minority groups were divided by the verdict as well. Latinos and African Americans both believed that fraud was taking place in the LAPD but disagreed on the cause.[366][386][387] Simpson said he felt vindicated[388] by the Rampart Scandal which proved that fraud was happening in the C.R.A.S.H anti-gang unit. However, this fraud was not racially motivated: all the officers involved were minorities themselves[389] and were actually found to be affiliated with one of the gangs they were supposed to be policing.[390][391][392]

Publications[edit]

Several jurors together published Madame Foreman in 1995 to respond to allegations the verdict was racially motivated. They concluded that Simpson probably was guilty but the prosecution failed to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

In 1996, Johnnie Cochran published Journey to Justice, in which he denied playing the "race card" and maintained that the LAPD tried to frame Simpson.

Robert Shapiro published The Search for Justice in 1996 about the case. He concluded there was reasonable doubt but criticized Bailey and Cochran for bringing race into the trial. In comparison to Cochran's book, he wrote: "I never believed that Simpson was being victimized by a racist police organization because he was black…or that he was seen as a black hero".

In 1998, Marcia Clark published Without a Doubt, in which she opined that the acquittal demonstrated the legal system is still compromised by race and celebrity because the prosecution's physical evidence should have easily convicted Simpson.

Christopher Darden published In Contempt in 1998 about the trial. He attributed the acquittal to poor stewardship by a "starstruck" Judge Ito and a "dysfunctional and uneducated" jury.

Vincent Bugliosi published Outrage: The Five Reasons why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder in 1997. Bugliosi blamed the verdict on an incompetent jury, prosecution, and judge. He wrote: "Other than when a killer is apprehended in the act, I have never seen a more obvious case of guilt. All of the evidence—not some or most of it—points irresistibly to Simpson's guilt and his guilt alone".

Henry Lee published Blood Evidence: How DNA Is Revolutionizing The Way We Solve Crimes in 2003, in which he noted that both the defense's forensic DNA experts had rejected Scheck's contamination claim.

Mark Fuhrman published Murder in Brentwood in 1998, defending himself against fraud claims. He wrote that his taking the Fifth was to avoid prosecution for perjury.

In 1997, Tom Lange and Philip Vannatter published Evidence Dismissed: The Inside Story of the Police Investigation of O.J. Simpson, in which they defended themselves against allegations of corruption and incompetence.

Daniel M. Petrocelli published Triumph of Justice: The Final Judgement of the Simpson Saga in 1998, comparing the criminal and civil trials. He attributed the acquittal to bad rulings by Judge Ito, unethical behavior by the defense, and unreliable testimony from Gerdes, Rieders, Lee, and Baden.

In 1999, sociologist Darnell Hunt published O.J. Simpson Facts and Fictions: News Rituals in the Construction of Reality. Hunt argued that the racial gap in polling was a manufactured product of selective reporting of facts by the media due to their treatment of the trial as a form of entertainment rather than a legal proceeding.[393]

If I Did It[edit]

In 2006, ReganBooks announced a book ghostwritten by Pablo Fenjves based on interviews with 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 interview featuring Simpson. The project was cancelled due to public criticism. Later, the Goldman family was awarded the rights to the book and published it under the title If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. In 2018, Fox broadcast Simpson's previously unaired interview in a special titled O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?[394] The interview was widely interpreted as being a form of implied confession because Simpson used first person language ("Obviously I must have [removed the glove]")[395] in explaining how he would have committed the murders.[396][397][398][399]

Post-trial interviews[edit]

In an interview with Barbara Walters, Shapiro said he was offended by Cochran comparing Fuhrman to Adolf Hitler, and said he would never work with Bailey or Cochran again. He also said the defense played the "race card".[400][401][402] Robert Kardashian admitted that, prior to the jurors visiting Simpson's home, the defense team had switched out his photos of white women for photos of his children and switched out a picture of a nude Paula Barbieri (Simpson's white then-girlfriend) for a Norman Rockwell painting from Cochran's office.[403][404][405][406][407]

Simpson gave two high-profile interviews regarding the case – in 1996 with Ross Becker[408] and in 2004 with Katie Couric.[409][410][411][412] 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?"[413][414][415] In 1998, during an interview with Ruby Wax, Simpson pretended to stab her with a banana in an apparent joke.[416][417] In 2008, Mike Gilbert released his book How I Helped O.J. Get Away with Murder, which quotes Simpson allegedly saying: "If she hadn't opened that door with a knife in her hand ... she'd still be alive."[418]

In the documentary O.J.: Made in America, juror Carrie Bess said she believed "90% of the jury actually decided to acquit Simpson as payback for Rodney King".[419][420][421] Juror Lionel Cryer, who notably gave Simpson a Black Power salute, stated in 2017 that in retrospect he would render a guilty verdict.[422][423] Juror Anise Aschenbach, who initially voted guilty before changing her vote, stated in 2008 that she regrets the decision and believes Simpson is guilty because he is not looking for the "real killer" like he promised he would.[424]

In 2018, Fox aired an interview Simpson gave in 2006 with publisher Judith Regan, titled O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?, where he gave "hypothetical" details about his role in the murders.[425]

Civil trial[edit]

Rufo vs. Simpson
Seal of the Court
CourtSuperior Court of California, County of Los Angeles
DecidedFebruary 5, 1997
VerdictSimpson liable for the wrongful death of and battery against Goldman, and battery against Brown
CitationSCO31947
Court membership
Judge sittingHiroshi Fujisaki

In 1996, Fred Goldman and Sharon Rufo, the parents of Ron Goldman, and Lou Brown, father of Nicole Brown filed a civil suit against Simpson for wrongful death.[426] The plaintiffs were represented by Daniel Petrocelli and Simpson by Robert Baker.[427] Presiding Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki did not allow the trial to be televised, did not sequester the jury, and prohibited the defense from alleging racism by the LAPD and from condemning the crime lab.[428] The physical evidence did not change but additional evidence of domestic violence was presented as well as 31 pre-1994 photos of Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes,[429] including one that was published 6 months before the murders, proving it could not be a forgery.[430] Results from a polygraph test that Simpson denied taking showed "extreme deception" when he denied committing the murders. Fuhrman did not testify but Simpson did on his own behalf and lied several times.[431]

O.J. Simpson outside the Santa Monica Courthouse during his 1997 Civil Trial.

One significant difference between the two trials was the admission of Nicole Brown's diary entries in the civil case. Lead counsel Daniel Petrocelli explained, "The least explored aspect of the case is Simpson's motive. You cannot just say this murder was a culmination of domestic-violence incidents. You need to tell the jury a story. This was about a stormy relationship." Time magazine reported, "That strategy made the difference in understanding Simpson... Nicole's diary showed that she and Simpson were having fights in those last weeks. Their hostilities had taken a cruel turn. Simpson sent Nicole a letter that was a thinly veiled threat to report her to the IRS for failing to pay capital-gains taxes. Infuriated, she started to deny him access to the children.... She began to treat him like a stranger. That, Petrocelli said, is when three weeks of retaliation began In that period, the lawyer argued, Simpson grew angrier and more obsessed with his ex-wife, developing a rage that resulted in death for her and Ron Goldman."[432]

The civil judge found the diary entries were admissible because they were pertinent to Nicole's state of mind, which in turn was relevant to Simpson's motive[433]—reversing a crucial ruling from the criminal case that excluded the diary as "inadmissible hearsay."[434] The civil court's ruling was upheld on appeal.[435] The Los Angeles Times wrote that this evidence "helped the plaintiffs tell their story of domestic violence" and show that when Nicole "rejected [Simpson] for good in the spring of 1994 ... he erupted in the same uncontrollable rage that had caused him to lash out at her in the past—only this time, he was brandishing a knife.[436]

The jury found Simpson liable for the murders and awarded the victims' families $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.[359] The civil verdict "very nearly upstaged the president of the United States on the occasion of his State of the Union address,"[437] ending the case that "riveted America for two and a half years[.]"[438] Simpson filed for bankruptcy afterwards and relocated to Florida to protect his pension from seizure. His remaining assets were seized and auctioned off with most being purchased by critics of the verdict of the criminal trial to help the plaintiffs recoup the costs of litigation. Simpson's Heisman Trophy was sold for $255,500 to an undisclosed buyer. All the proceeds went to the Goldman family, who said they have received only one percent of the money that Simpson owes from the wrongful death suit.[439][440]

Following Simpson's death in 2024,[441] Simpson estate lawyer Malcolm LeVergne pledged to prevent the Brown and Goldman families from obtaining the money which was promised in the civil trial judgement, but later reversed course.[442]

Alternate theories and suspects[edit]

The 2000 BBC TV documentary O.J.: The True Untold Story,[443] primarily rehashes the contamination and blood planting claims from the trial and asserted that Simpson's elder son Jason is a possible suspect, due to - among other reasons - O.J. Simpson hiring defense attorneys for his children first before himself, pictures of Jason's descriptive wool cap, and an alleged prior arrangement to meet with Nicole that evening.[444][445] William Dear published his findings in the book O.J. Is Innocent and I Can Prove It.[446]


Alternative theories of the murders have suggested they were related to the Los Angeles drug trade and the murders of Michael Nigg and Brett Cantor.[447][448][449][450][451][452][453]

The 2012 documentary film My Brother the Serial Killer alleged that convicted murderer Glen Edward Rogers confessed to being involved in the murders and claimed he had been hired by Simpson to do it. The families of Brown and Goldman dismissed its claims and accused Henry Schlieff of Investigation Discovery of irresponsibility. He replied that he believed Simpson was guilty and the documentary's intention was not to prove Rogers committed the crimes.[454][455]

According to O.J.: Made in America director Ezra Edelman, no plausible alternative theory has emerged since the trial.[362] Such theories have been rejected by the trial's participants,[456][457] with Hunt opining that these claims were attempts to tap into the public interest in the case and were never meant to be taken seriously.[458]

In popular culture[edit]

Media adaptations[edit]

  • The Fox television movie The O. J. Simpson Story (1995) depicts Simpson and Brown's relationship, up to his arrest for the murders.[459]
  • The CBS TV film American Tragedy (2000) follows the trial from the perspective of Simpson's defense team.[460]
  • In 2014, ID premiered the documentary OJ: Trial of the Century, which begins on the day of the murders, ends on the reading of the verdict, and comprises actual media footage of events and reactions as they unfolded.[461] The same year, ID premiered O.J. Simpson Trial: The Real Story, which entirely comprises archival news footage of the case.[462]
  • The first season of the FX anthology series American Crime Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016), was adapted from the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson (1997) by legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.[463] It received critical acclaim[464] and several Emmy Awards.
  • In 2016, ESPN premiered O.J.: Made in America, a five-part, eight-hour documentary by Ezra Edelman on the trial. The documentary received widespread acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[465]
  • The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (2019) portrays a version of events involving Glen Edward Rogers.[466][467]
  • In 2020, Court TV premiered OJ25, a 25-part series documenting each week of the trial, hosted by former Los Angeles prosecutor and legal analyst Roger Cossack.[468]
  • The upcoming film The Juice (2025) will explore conspiracy theories purporting to exonerate Simpson of the murders.[469]

Film[edit]

Lost Highway was partially inspired by the case. In the film, a man is imprisoned for his wife's murder, which he does not remember, and is released after he transforms into a different man. Director David Lynch found it remarkable that Simpson, who he believed committed the murders, could continue a casual lifestyle afterward.[470]

Shrek 2 references the Bronco chase, when Donkey is turned into a white horse by the Fairy Godmother, and he and other characters are pursued by knights.[471]

TV[edit]

Episodes of sitcoms such as The Simpsons, South Park, Roseanne, New Girl, Family Guy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Seinfeld have mocked the case, or more specifically, Simpson himself.[472] Saturday Night Live Weekend Update host Norm Macdonald frequently made jokes about O. J. Simpson's trial, such as the iconic line "Well, it is finally official: Murder is legal in the state of California" after Simpson's acquittal. It is rumored that the constant Simpson jokes were the cause for then NBC President Don Ohlmeyer to remove Macdonald from the Weekend Update segment and eventually from the show altogether.[473][better source needed]

Cowlings' white Ford Bronco was featured in the reality TV show Pawn Stars. The then-owner of the vehicle estimated its value in excess of $1,000,000.[474][475]

Music[edit]

The heavy-metal band Body Count recorded the song "I Used to Love Her", sung from the perspective of O. J. Simpson murdering his wife, on their 1997 album Violent Demise: The Last Days. A 2021 article in Metal Hammer described the song as "jaw-droppingly offensive".[476] In Good Charlotte's song, "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous", they reference the case in the second verse: "Well did you know when you were famous you could kill you wife And there's no such thing as 25 to life As long as you've got the cash, to pay for Cochran."[477]

R&B group H-Town dedicated their album Ladies Edition, Woman's World (1997) to Brown, to help victims of domestic violence.[478] Electronic musician James Ferraro referenced the police chase in the song "White Bronco" on his 2015 album Skid Row.[479]

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.[480][481] Rapper Jay-Z's song "The Story of O.J." references the trial.[citation needed] Kendrick Lamar included Simpson in the music video for "The Heart Part 5", using Deepfake technology. The infamous glove also appears on the single's cover.[482] Rapper Eminem references the murder case in his song "Role Model", where he claims to have done the murder with Marcus Allen.[483]

Video games[edit]

Duke Nukem 3D has several allusions to the Simpson trial, including a television playing the Bronco chase.[484]

Exhibits[edit]

The suit Simpson wore when he was acquitted 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.[485]

Cowlings's white Ford Bronco is on display at the Alcatraz East crime museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.[486]

In 2017, Adam Papagan curated a pop-up museum showcasing artifacts and ephemera from the trial at Coagula Curatorial gallery in Los Angeles.[487][488]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, Thomas L. "O.J. Simpson". truTV. Archived from the original on December 9, 2008. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  3. ^ "1995: OJ Simpson verdict: 'Not guilty'". On This Day: 3 October. BBC. October 3, 1995. Archived from the original on January 17, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  4. ^ "The O.J. Simpson Murder Trial : Excerpts of Opening Statements by Simpson Prosecutors". Los Angeles Times. January 25, 1995. Archived from the original on April 12, 2024. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "How O.J. Simpson's Dream Team Played the "Race Card" and Won". Vanity Fair. May 5, 2014. Archived from the original on October 6, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
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  7. ^ "OJ Simpson Juror: Not-Guilty Verdict Was 'Payback' for Rodney King". June 15, 2016. Archived from the original on June 7, 2020. Retrieved August 23, 2022.
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  11. ^ Mydans, Seth (June 16, 1994). "Lawyer for O.J. Simpson Quits Case". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 21, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2009.
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