O. J. Simpson murder case

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California v. Simpson
Seal of Los Angeles County, California (1957–2004).png
CourtLos Angeles County Superior Court
Full case namePeople of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson
DecidedOctober 3, 1995; 24 years ago (1995-10-03)
VerdictNot Guilty in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony upon Nicole Brown Simpson, a human being. Not Guilty in violation of Penal Code Section 187(a), a felony upon Ronald Lyle Goldman, a human being.
Case history
Subsequent action(s)Lawsuit filed by the Brown and Goldman families; Simpson was found responsible for both deaths on February 4, 1997.
Court membership
Judge(s) sittingLance Ito

The O. J. Simpson murder case (officially People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson) was a criminal trial held in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Former National Football League (NFL) player, broadcaster, and actor O. J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder for the June 12, 1994 slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. At 12:10 a.m. on June 13, Brown and Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her condominium in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Simpson was a person of interest in the murders. He did not turn himself in, and on June 17 he became the object of a low-speed pursuit in a white 1993 Ford Bronco SUV owned and driven by his friend Al Cowlings.[1] TV stations interrupted coverage of the NBA finals to broadcast the incident. The pursuit was watched live by an estimated 95 million people.[2] The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized events in American history. The trial—often characterized as the trial of the century because of its international publicity—spanned eleven months, from the jury's swearing-in on November 9, 1994.[3] Opening statements were made on January 24, 1995,[4] and the verdict was announced on October 3, 1995, when Simpson was acquitted on two counts of murder.[5][6] Following his acquittal, no additional arrests related to the murders have been made, and the crime remains unsolved to this day.[7] According to USA Today, the case has been described as the "most publicized" criminal trial in history.[8]

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

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

The immediate reaction to the verdict created a division along racial lines. A poll of Los Angeles County residents showed that most blacks felt that justice had been served by the "not guilty" verdict, while the majority of whites and Latinos expressed an opposite opinion on the matter.[15]

After the trial, the families of Brown and Goldman filed a lawsuit against Simpson. On February 4, 1997, the jury unanimously found Simpson responsible for both deaths.[16] The families were awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling $33.5 million ($52.3 million in 2018 dollars), but have received only a small portion of that monetary figure. In 2000, Simpson left California for Florida, one of the few states where personal assets such as homes and pensions cannot be seized to cover liabilities that were incurred in other states.

Background[edit]

Brown–Simpson marriage, abuse[edit]

Simpson with his daughter Sydney, 1986

Nicole Brown met O. J. Simpson in 1977,[17] when she was 18 and working as a waitress at a Beverly Hills private club called The Daisy.[18][19] Although Simpson was still married to his first wife, Marguerite, the two began dating. Simpson and Marguerite divorced in March 1979.[20] Simpson and Brown were married on February 2, 1985, five years after Simpson's retirement from the NFL.[20][21][22] The marriage lasted seven years and produced two children, Sydney (b. 1985) and Justin (b. 1988).[23]

Simpson was investigated multiple times by police for domestic violence.[24] Detective Mark Fuhrman responded to Simpson's Rockingham estate in 1985 on a domestic violence call. Brown was crying and Simpson had broken the windshield of her car with a baseball bat.[25] On New Year's Day 1989 Simpson beat Brown. She called a 9-1-1 operator and told officers "He's going to kill me." Simpson pleaded no contest to spousal abuse.[26] Photos of Brown's bruised and battered face from that attack were shown to the court.

Brown filed for divorce on February 25, 1992, citing "irreconcilable differences".[27] Following the divorce, Simpson and Brown got back together and the abuse continued. Audio released during the murder trial of O. J. Simpson revealed that Brown called 9-1-1 on October 25, 1993, crying and saying that "He [Simpson] is going to beat the shit out of me". After this incident, the relationship would end for a second and final time.[28]

Brown had also reported a set of keys missing from the house a few weeks before her murder, which were found on Simpson when he was arrested.[29] A women's shelter, Sojourn, received a call from Brown four days prior to the murders; she said that she was afraid of her ex-husband, who she believed was stalking her. The prosecution did not present this information in court because they thought that Judge Ito would rule the evidence to be hearsay. In addition, friends and family indicated that Brown had consistently said that Simpson had been stalking her. Her friends Resnick and Cynthia Shahian said she was afraid because Simpson had told her he would kill her if he ever found her with another man.[5]

LA Riots, Rodney King[edit]

Just two years prior to the murders were LA riots, which occurred after the acquittal of four police officers for the beating of black motorist Rodney King, although King's beating had been captured on an amateur video, identifying the officers. The Los Angeles County District Attorney subsequently charged four police officers, including one sergeant, with assault and use of excessive force. Due to the extensive media coverage of the arrest, the trial received a change of venue from Los Angeles County to Simi Valley in neighboring Ventura County. The jury was composed of nine white people, one bi-racial male, one Latino, and one Asian American. On April 29, 1992, the jury acquitted all four officers of assault and acquitted three of the four of using excessive force.

Frogmen[edit]

A few months before the murders, Simpson completed a film pilot for Frogmen, an adventure series similar to the The A-Team in which he starred. Simpson played the lead role of "Bullfrog" Burke, who led a group of former U.S. Navy SEALs. He received "a fair amount of" military training – including use of a knife – for Frogmen, and holds a knife to the throat of a woman (playing the role of his daughter) in one scene.[30] A 25-minute tape of the pilot, which did not include the knife scene, was found by investigators and watched on Simpson's television as they searched his house.[30] The defense tried to block its use on these grounds, but Judge Ito allowed the tape to be shown. However, the prosecution never introduced it as evidence during the trial.[30] It has also been reported that his character's skills included night killings[31] and the "silent kill" technique of slashing the throat,[32] and that SEALs regularly wear knit caps like the one found at the scene.[33] The Navy calls these watch caps.[34]

Mezzaluna[edit]

On Brown's last evening alive, she attended a dance recital of Sydney's at Paul Revere High School with her family. Simpson also attended. The family then went to eat at the Mezzaluna restaurant, and Simpson was not invited. Goldman was a waiter at Mezzaluna, though he was not assigned to Brown's table. After eating at Mezzaluna, Brown and her children went to Ben & Jerry's before returning home.[35] Karen Lee Crawford, the manager of Mezzaluna, recounted that Brown's mother phoned the restaurant at 9:37 p.m. about a pair of lost eyeglasses. Crawford found them and put them in a white envelope. Goldman left the restaurant at 9:50 p.m., after his shift, to return the glasses by dropping them off at Brown's house.[36][37]

Simpson ate 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. Kaelin testified Simpson was "upset" after the recital.[38] Rumors circulated that Simpson had been on drugs at the time of the murder, and the New York Post's Cindy Adams reported that the pair had actually gone to a local Burger King, where a prominent drug dealer known only as "J. R." had admitted to selling them crystal meth.[39][40]

Murders[edit]

At 12:10 am.[41] on June 13, 1994, Brown and Goldman were found murdered outside of Nicole's Bundy Drive condominium in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California. Both victims had been dead for about two hours prior to the arrival of police. The defense and prosecution would both agree that the murders took place some time between 10:15 and 10:40 pm. Nicole's akita dog with bloodstained paws led neighbors to the body.[42] Steven Schwab testified that while he was walking his dog in the area near Brown's house at around 11:30 pm, he noticed that Brown's Akita was wandering around and agitated. He saw that the dog had bloody paws, but after looking further, he determined that the dog was uninjured. Schwab said he took the dog to a neighbor friend of his, Sukru Boztepe, before taking it into his home where it became more agitated. Boztepe took the dog for a walk at approximately 12:00 midnight and testified that it tugged on its leash and led him to Brown's house. There he discovered Brown's dead body. Minutes later, Boztepe flagged down a passing patrol car.

Brown was found face down and barefoot at the bottom of the stairs leading to her front door, which was left open, with no signs of forced entry nor any evidence that anyone had entered the premises.[43] The scene had a large amount of blood, but the bottom of Brown's feet were clean, leading investigators to say the first part of the attack was her going down.[44] She had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck, and had some defensive wounds on her hands. The final cut was deep into her neck, severing her carotid artery. Probably after the assailant had finished killing Goldman, he returned to Brown's body, put his foot on her back, and held her head up by the hair as he slit her throat.[45][46] Her larynx could be seen through the gaping wound in her neck, and vertebra C3 was incised;[46] her head remained barely attached to the body.[28] Underneath Brown was a restaurant menu she may have been holding. On her banister was a melting cup of ice cream.[47] Her bath was full and she had lit candles, as well as had a stereo and television on.[48]

Goldman laid nearby by a tree and fence. He had been stabbed multiple times in the body and neck. He had more defensive wounds, and a cut on his shoe may indicate he kicked the assailant.[49] Forensic evidence from the Los Angeles County coroner alleged that Goldman had been attacked and stabbed repeatedly in the neck and chest with one hand while the assailant restrained him with an arm chokehold. Near Goldman were his beeper and car keys, as well as the assailant's blue knit cap and left-hand glove - an extra-large, Aris Isotoner light leather glove. Robert Riske, one of the first two officers on the scene, claimed to see a single bloody glove, among other evidence.[47] Also near Goldman was an envelope with glasses he was returning.

Bloody shoe prints leaving the scene through the back gate were left by the assailant. To the left of some footprints were drops of blood from the assailant apparently bleeding from his left side, and coins were on the ground from his apparently reaching into his pocket. Measuring the distance between the steps showed the assailant walked away rather than ran.[50] The assailant may also have returned to the scene after initially walking away.[51] The footprints were large, size 12 (305 mm) prints, which matched Simpson's shoe size.[13] Their distinct "waffle" pattern was identified by FBI shoe expert William Bodziak as having been made by a pair of rare and expensive Italian shoes, Bruno Magli Lorenzo model; only 29 pairs of this style were sold in the U.S.[13]

Flight to Chicago[edit]

Simpson was scheduled for a red-eye flight at 11:45 p. m. to Chicago, to play golf at a convention with representatives of Hertz rental car company the following day, for whom he was a spokesman.[38] Limousine driver Allan Park was scheduled to pick him up and take him to Los Angeles International Airport, and arrived early at around 10:25.[52] He drove around Simpson's estate to make sure he could navigate the area with the stretch limousine properly and testified he did not see Simpson's Ford Bronco parked outside.[52] Park testified that he had been looking for and had seen the house number on the curb, and the prosecution presented exhibits to show that the position in which the Bronco was found the next morning was right next to the house number (implying that Park would surely have noticed the Bronco if it had been there at that time).[53] Park parked opposite the Ashford Street gate, then drove back to the Rockingham gate to check which driveway would have the best access for the limo. Deciding that the Rockingham entrance was too tight, he returned to the Ashford gate and began to buzz the intercom at 10:40, getting no response. 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 then testified he saw a large figure similar in build to Simpson go into the house through the front door and the lights then came on.

Kaelin had just previously been on the telephone to his friend, Rachel Ferrara. At approximately 10:50, something crashed into his wall, 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 decided not to venture directly down the dark south pathway from which the thumps had originated. Instead, he walked to the front of the property, where he saw Park's limo outside the Ashford gate. Kaelin let Park in the Ashford gate, and Simpson finally came out the front door a few minutes later claiming he had overslept.[52] Both Park and Kaelin would later testify that Simpson seemed agitated that night as well.[54]

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.[55] Simpson wouldn't let Park touch any of his luggage, insisting he load it into the car himself. One of Simpson's bags was never found.[56] Another witness not used at trial, Skip Junis, claimed he saw Simpson at the airport discarding items from a bag into a trash can.[57][58] Detectives Lange and Vannatter believe this to be how the evidence was disposed.[59]

Simpson was running late but caught his flight. Kaelin, Park, the airport staff and those on the plane did not notice any cuts or wounds on Simpson's hands, despite several getting autographs.[60] Simpson stayed at the O'Hare Plaza Hotel.[61]

Arrest of Simpson[edit]

Simpson's mugshot, June 17, 1994

Soon after discovering the bodies, detectives went to Simpson's estate in Brentwood. They claimed it was to inform him that his ex-wife had been murdered and to give him a ride to pick up his children, who had been in Nicole's condo at the time of the murders, and were at the police station now. They buzzed the intercom at the property for over 30 minutes but received no response. They noted the Bronco was parked on Rockingham at an awkward angle, with its back end out more than the front, and had blood on the door which they feared meant someone inside might be hurt. Detective Vannatter then 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, in this case, out of fear that Simpson might have also been injured.

Fuhrman briefly interviewed Kato Kaelin, who told him about the thumps on his wall he heard earlier that night. In a walk-around of the premises to inspect what may have caused the thumps, Fuhrman discovered a second bloody glove; it was later determined to be the matching right hand glove of the one found at the murder scene. Through DNA testing, the blood on the glove was determined to have come from both victims. This evidence, matched with other evidence that was collected at both scenes, was determined to be probable cause to issue an arrest warrant for Simpson.

Detective Ron Phillips testified that when he called Simpson in Chicago to tell him of his ex-wife's murder, he sounded shocked and upset. Simpson claimed in his grief and outrage he broke a glass, slicing his finger. Simpson then returned to Los Angeles. While Simpson was waiting in his bedroom, he invited longtime friend and police officer Ron Shipp for a private discussion; Simpson jokingly told him, "To be honest, Shipp, I've had some dreams about killing her."[62][63]

Although the LAPD refused to identify Simpson as a suspect, he was the focus of the police investigation from the beginning. The police handcuffed Simpson at his home on Monday, June 13, took him to Parker Center for questioning, and released him. Simpson hired Robert Shapiro on Tuesday; the lawyer later said that an increasingly distraught Simpson began treatment for depression. After gathering evidence during the week, detectives on Friday, June 17 recommended that he be charged with two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstance of multiple killings.[64]

A heavily sedated Simpson stayed Thursday night at the San Fernando Valley home of friend Robert Kardashian; Shapiro asked several doctors to attend to him because of Simpson's fragile mental state. LAPD notified Shapiro at 8:30 am on Friday that Simpson would have to surrender that day. At 9:30 am Shapiro went to Kardashian's home to tell Simpson that he would have to surrender by 11 am; the murder charges were filed that day. The lawyer described Simpson as being in suicidal depression; he updated his will, called his mother and children, and wrote three sealed letters to his children, his mother, and the public.[64]

Lawyers persuaded the LAPD to allow Simpson to turn himself in;[65] the police believed that someone as famous as Simpson would not flee, although the double murder charge meant that bail would not be set and a first-degree murder conviction could result in a death penalty.[64][66] The surrender was delayed by an hour because of a medical examination of the suspect, so police called Shapiro to say that Simpson would be arrested at Shapiro's house. He did not tell Simpson, who was with longtime friend Al Cowlings elsewhere in the house; they apparently escaped at this time.[64] More than 1,000 reporters waited for Simpson's perp walk at the police station, but he did not arrive. At 1:50 pm, Commander Dave Gascon, LAPD's chief spokesman, publicly declared that Simpson was a fugitive; the police issued an all-points bulletin for him and an arrest warrant for Cowlings.[64][67][68]

Suicide note[edit]

At 5 pm, Kardashian and one of his defense lawyers read Simpson's public letter.[64][67][68] 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 to not reconcile as normal parts of a long relationship and asked the media "as a last wish" not to bother his children. He wrote to then girlfriend Paula Barbieri "I'm sorry ... we're not going to have, our chance ... 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".[64][67][65][69][68] Most interpreted this as a suicide note; Simpson's mother Eunice collapsed after hearing it,[64][28][70] 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.[71][64]

Bronco chase[edit]

News helicopters searched the Los Angeles highway system for Cowling's white Ford Bronco (Cowling and Simpson both had white Broncos).[70][68] 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 riding in the Bronco on the I-5 freeway heading north, driven by Cowlings. The police tracked calls placed from Simpson on his cell phone. At 6:45 pm, police officer Ruth Dixon saw the Bronco head north on Interstate 405. When she caught up to it, Cowlings yelled out that Simpson was in the back seat of the vehicle and had a gun to his own head.[71][64][68] The officer backed off, but followed the vehicle[72] at 35 miles per hour (56 km/h),[73] with up to 20 police cars following her in the chase.[64][74][75]

Bob Tur 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 him 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.[71][68] The chase was so long that one helicopter ran out of fuel, forcing its station to ask another for a camera feed.[28] Radio station KNX-AM also provided live coverage of the low-speed pursuit. USC sports announcer Peter Arbogast and station producer Kash Limbach contacted former USC football coach John McKay to go on the air and encourage Simpson to end the pursuit. McKay agreed and asked Simpson to pull over and turn himself in instead of committing suicide;[76] "My God, we love you, Juice. Just pull over and I'll come out and stand by you all the rest of my life", he promised.[70] Callers from around the country also pleaded with Simpson over KNX to surrender.[64]

Simpson's escape embarrassed the LAPD and the Los Angeles County District Attorney, which denied that he had been treated unusually.[64] At Parker Center, officials discussed how to persuade Simpson to surrender peacefully. Detective Tom Lange, who had interviewed Simpson about the murders on June 13, realized that he had Simpson's cell phone number and called him repeatedly. A colleague hooked a tape recorder up to Lange's phone and captured a conversation between Lange and Simpson in which Lange repeatedly pleaded with Simpson to "throw the gun out [of] the window" for the sake of his mother and children. Simpson apologized for not turning himself in earlier that day and responded that he was "the only one who deserved to get hurt" and was "just gonna go with Nicole". He 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.[77][68] During the pursuit, and without having a chance to hear the taped phone conversation, Simpson's friend Al Michaels interpreted his actions as an admission of guilt.[71]

Normally busy Los Angeles streets emptied and drink orders stopped at bars as people watched on television.[64] ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN, and local news outlets interrupted regularly scheduled programming to cover the incident, watched by an estimated 95 million viewers nationwide;[78][79][71][80] only 90 million had watched that year's Super Bowl.[28] While NBC continued coverage of Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden, the game appeared in a small box in the corner while Tom Brokaw covered the chase.[78][71] 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.[80] The chase was broadcast internationally, with Gascon's relatives in France and China seeing him on television.[68] Benefiting from the event occurring in the evening, Domino's Pizza stated that its pizza delivery sales during the chase were as large as on Super Bowl Sunday.[81]

Thousands of spectators and onlookers packed overpasses along the route of the chase, waiting for the white Bronco. In a festival-like atmosphere, many had signs like "Go O.J." urging Simpson to flee.[82][76][74][68] They and the millions watching the chase on television felt part of a "common emotional experience", one author wrote, as they "wonder[ed] if O. J. Simpson would commit suicide, escape, be arrested, or engage in some kind of violent confrontation. Whatever might ensue, the shared adventure gave millions of viewers a vested interest, a sense of participation, a feeling of being on the inside of a national drama in the making."[78] Sports Illustrated later commented the chase and subsequent hoopla was "The Sugarland Express meets The Fugitive".

Simpson reportedly demanded that he be allowed to speak to his mother before he would surrender.[74] The chase ended at 8:00 p.m. at his Brentwood estate, 50 miles (80 km) later, where his son, Jason, ran out of the house, "gesturing wildly",[74] and 27 SWAT officers awaited.[28][68] After remaining in the Bronco for about 45 minutes,[76] Simpson exited at 8:50 pm with a framed family photo and went inside for about an hour; a police spokesman stated that he spoke to his mother and drank a glass of orange juice, causing reporters to laugh.[71][64] Shapiro arrived, and Simpson surrendered to authorities a few minutes later. In the Bronco, police found "$8,000 in cash, a change of clothing, a loaded .357 Magnum, a United States passport, family pictures, and a fake goatee and mustache".[76] Neither the footage of the Bronco chase nor the items found in the Bronco were shown to the jury as evidence in the trial.[83]

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.[64] As Simpson was driven away, he saw the crowds, many of whom were African Americans, cheering him; Simpson said, "What are all these niggers doing in Brentwood?"[63]

The events of the Bronco chase, and the materials in the Bronco including the cash, handgun, and disguise, were not presented to the jury. The prosecution did not cover Simpson's apparent suicide note and statement to the police.

Preliminary hearing[edit]

On June 20, Simpson was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to both murders. As expected, the presiding judge ordered that Simpson be held without bail. The following day, a grand jury was called to determine whether to indict him for the two murders. Two days later, on June 23, the grand jury was dismissed as a result of excessive media coverage, which could have influenced its neutrality.

Jill Shively testified to the 1994 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,[84] 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.[5][80]

As well as Shively, the grand jury hearing included Ross Cutlery providing store receipts showing Simpson had purchased a 12-inch (305 mm) stiletto knife from salesman Jose Camacho six weeks before the murders. The knife was determined to be similar to the one the coroner said caused the stab wounds. The prosecution did not present this evidence at trial after discovering that Camacho had sold his story to the National Enquirer for $12,500.[5][80] The knife was later collected from Simpson's residence by his attorneys; they presented it to Judge Ito and it was subsequently sealed in a manila envelope to be opened only if brought up at trial. This was not the murder weapon: tests on the knife determined that an oil used on new cutlery was still present on the knife, indicating it had never been used. The police searched Simpson's estate three times and could not find this knife. Simpson told his attorneys exactly where it was in the house and it was promptly recovered.[85] Fuhrman thinks the murder weapon was a Victorinox Swiss Army knife. Simpson allegedly told a limo driver "You could kill somebody with one of these."[86]

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

On November 13, former NFL player and pastor Rosey Grier visited Simpson at the Los Angeles County Jail in the days following the murders. A jailhouse guard, Jeff Stuart, testified to Judge Ito that at one point Simpson yelled to Grier that he "didn't mean to do it," after which Grier had urged Simpson to come clean. Ito ruled that the evidence was hearsay and could not be allowed in court.[5]

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, and was televised by 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. Within days after the start of the trial, lawyers and those viewing the trial from a single closed-circuit TV camera in the courtroom saw an emerging pattern: continual and countless interruptions with objections from both sides of the courtroom, as well as one sidebar conference after another with the judge, beyond earshot of the unseen jury located just below and out of the camera's frame.

Jury[edit]

District Attorney Gil Garcetti elected to file charges in downtown Los Angeles, as opposed to Santa Monica, where the crime took place.[87] The decision would prove to be highly controversial, especially after Simpson was acquitted.[87] It likely resulted in a jury pool with more blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and blue-collar workers than would have been found from Santa Monica.[88]

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.[89]

According to media reports, Clark thought that women, regardless of race, would sympathize with the domestic violence aspect of the case and connect with her personally. On the other hand, the defense's research suggested that women generally were more likely to acquit than men, and that jurors did not respond well to Clark's combative style of litigation. The defense also speculated that black women would not be as sympathetic as white women to the victim, who was white, because of tensions about interracial marriages. Both sides accepted a disproportionate number of female jurors. From an original jury pool of 40 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 which there were nine blacks, two whites, and one Hispanic.[14][90]

The jury was sequestered for 265 days, the most in American history. It broke the previous record with more than a month left to go. During the middle of the trial, a number of the jurors staged what the media called a "revolt". After being sequestered for 101 days, thirteen of the eighteen jurors (i. e. including alternates) refused to enter the courtroom until they were granted a meeting with Judge Ito. Eventually, the jury returned with thirteen members wearing black or dark-colored clothing in what was described as a "funeral procession".[91][92]

Prosecution case[edit]

The two lead prosecutors were Deputy District Attorneys Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. Clark was designated as the lead prosecutor and Darden became Clark's co-counsel. Prosecutors Hank Goldberg and William Hodgman, who have 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. Prosector Lisa Kahn, who was the DNA coordinator for the district attorneys office, assisted Clarke and Harmon.[93]

The prosecution decided not to seek the death penalty and instead sought a life sentence. The prosecution case was built around circumstantial evidence to establish Simpson had motive and physical evidence to establish he had means and opportunity to commit the murders.[94] A total of 488 pieces of evidence was presented to the jury, though no witnesses to the murders and no murder weapon were found.[95] The physical evidence included classic forensic sciences - hair, fiber and shoe print analysis - as well as novel forensic sciences including DNA fingerprinting and Serology.

Theory[edit]

The prosecution began presenting their case on January 24, 1995. Christopher Darden presented the circumstantial evidence of Simpson's history of domestic violence towards Nicole Brown as the motive for her murder.[96] Darden argued in opening statements that Simpson had a history of physically abusing Nicole and plead guilty to one count of domestic violence for beating Nicole in 1989. Darden described how Simpson controlled Nicole by limiting her financially by making her sign a prenup and then refusing to allow her to work during the marriage, demeaning her psychologically with insults and isolating her from her friends, and then physically by beating her.[97] On the night of the murders, Simpson attended a dance recital for his daughter and he was reportedly angry with Nicole because of a black dress that she wore. Simpson's then white 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. Simpson then drove over to Nicole Brown's home to reconcile their relationship as a result and when Nicole refused, Simpson killed her in a "final act of control." Ron Goldman then came upon the scene and was murdered as well.[98]

Marcia Clark presented the physical evidence that Simpson had the means and opportunity to commit the murders and Eyewitness testimony to refute Simpsons claim that he was home that night. The gloves worn by the murderer were recovered and one glove was found at the crime scene and the other at Simpsons home. Clark stated that there is a "trail of blood from the crime scene through Simpsons Ford Bronco and into his house in Rockingham." She stated "there is a 'Mountain of Evidence' pointing to Simpsons guilt" that is too high to climb.[99][100]

Domestic Violence[edit]

The prosecution opened its case by calling LAPD 911 dispatcher Sharon Gilbert and playing a four minute 9-1-1 call from Nicole Brown Simpson on January 1, 1989, in which she expressed fear that Simpson would physically harm her and Simpson himself is even heard in the background yelling at her and possible hitting her as well. The officer who responded to that call, Detective John Edwards, testified next that when he arrived, a severely beaten Nicole Brown Simpson 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 O.J. Simpson. Pictures of Nicole Browns face from that night were then shown to the jury to confirm his testimony. That incident lead to Simpson's arrest and eventually pleading no contest to one count of domestic violence for which he received probation.[101] 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 didn't 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 prosecution then called Denise Brown, Nicole Brown's sister, to the witness stand. She tearfully testified to many episodes of domestic violence in the 1980s, when she saw Simpson pick up his wife and hurl her against a wall, then physically throw her out of their house during an argument. She also testified that Simpson was agitated with Nicole the night of his daughter's dance recital as well, the same night Nicole was murdered.[102]

The prosecution planned to present a total of 62 separate incidents of domestic violence, including three previously unknown incidents Brown had documented in several letters she had written and placed in a safety deposit box. Judge Ito denied the defense's motion to suppress the incidents of domestic violence. They argued that these were prejudicial to Simpson as "prior bad acts" but Ito rejected that argument stating the abuse was recent. However, Ito only allowed witnessed accounts to be presented to the jury because of Simpson's Sixth Amendment rights. The letters Nicole had written herself and the statements she made to her friends and family were inadmissible because they were hearsay as the witness, Nicole Brown, was unable to be cross-examined by Simpson. Despite this the prosecution had witnesses for 44 separate incidents they planned to present to the jury.[103]

However, the prosecution dropped the domestic violence portion of their case on June 20, 1995.[104] 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.[105] Harris was dismissed on April 6 because she failed to disclose that she was a victim of domestic violence from her ex-husband.[106] But afterwards she gave an interview and called Simpsons abuse of Nicole "a whole lot of nothing" and said "that doesn't mean he is guilty of murder". This dismissal of his 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.[107][108] After the verdict, the jurors called the domestic violence portion of the case a "waste of time" and claimed they discarded it because there were no new incidents of abuse after 1989. At trial, the jurors heard another 9-1-1 phone call that Nicole made on October 25, 1993, expressing the same fear for her life and Simpson is also heard shouting in the background, less than eight months before the murders. The jurors also stated that they did not believe Nicole sincerely thought her life was in danger. One of the documents from the safety deposit box the jury did see was a will she had drafted stating her wishes in the event of her death.[109]

Although the jury was dismissive of Simpson's abusive behavior, the public reaction was explosive and credited with turning public opinion against him. Shapiro later wrote that Simpson was not apologetic for his behavior either and his attempts to defend himself afterwards only worsened the backlash against him. Dershowitz later said that Nicole Brown became a symbol for victims of abuse because the police did not help her when she was being abused by Simpson but when the truth came out it destroyed his reputation which never recovered. Daniel Petrocelli, who successfully argued the civil case against Simpson, credited the difference in the outcome to a jury that was receptive to the argument that domestic violence is a prelude to murder.[110][111]

The defense never disputed the facts of the domestic violence that Brown endured nor did they defend Simpson for committing them. Alan Dershowitz and Robert Shapiro both wrote after the trial that the abusive behavior was indefensible and the cross-examinations focused on personal attacks towards the witnesses themselves and not denying or defending Simpson's behavior. Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, and Gerald Uelmen later admitted they believe that race played a factor in the jurors' dismissal of Nicole Brown's abuse by Simpson.[112][113][114]

Timeline[edit]

According to the prosecution, Simpson was last seen in public at 9:36 p.m. that evening when he returned to the front gate of his house from McDonald's with Kaelin. Simpson was not seen again until 10:54 p.m. – an hour and eighteen minutes later – when he got in Park's limousine. Brown's neighbor Pablo Fenjves testified about hearing a "very distinctive barking" and "plaintive wail" of a dog at around ten to fifteen minutes after 10:00 p.m. while he was at home watching the news on television. Eva Stein, another neighbor, testified about very loud and persistent barking, also at around 10:15 pm, which kept her from going back to sleep. The prosecution used this for the time of the murders. The prosecution alleged that Simpson had driven his Bronco during the required five minutes to and from the murder scene. They presented a witness in the vicinity of Bundy Drive who saw a car similar to Simpson's Bronco speeding away from the area at 10:35 pm.[13]

Blood trail[edit]

They argued further that Simpson left a "trail of blood" from the condo to the alley behind it; there was also testimony that three drops of Simpson's blood were found on the driveway near the gate to his house on Rockingham Drive.[115]

DNA evidence[edit]

Crime scene photo at Nicole Browns home.

The prosecution presented a total of 108 exhibits, including 61 drops of blood[116], of DNA evidence allegedly linking 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.[117] 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 eye witness account.[118] Two different types of DNA matching, along with conventional serology, were used in the Simpson case: Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, and restriction fragment length polymorphism, or RFLP.

Renee Montgomery of the California State Department Lab testified May 23, 1995 to her results from D1S80 DNA matching and reconstructed the prosecutions theory of how the crime happened that night.[119][120] Marcia Clark stated in her opening statements on January 24, 1995 that there was a "trial of blood from the Bundy Crime scene through Simpson's Ford Bronco to his Bedroom at Rockingham".[121]

  • Simpson's DNA found on blood drops next to the bloody foot prints near the victims at the Bundy Crime Scene.
  • Simpson's DNA found on a trail of blood drops leading away from the victims, towards and on the back gate at Bundy.
  • Simpson, Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown's DNA found on blood on the outside of the door and inside Simpson's Bronco.
  • 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.
  • Simpson, Brown and Goldman's DNA on a bloody glove found behind his home.
  • Nicole Brown's DNA found on blood on a pair of socks in Simpson's bedroom.

Gregory Matheson, chief forensic chemist at the Los Angeles Police Crime Lab, testified May 1, 1995 that serology testing verified all of the above matches with the chance of error being 1-in-200 or 0.5%.[122][123]

Dr. Robin Cotton, Lab director of Cellmark Diagnostics, testified on May 8, 1995 to RFLP DNA matching that the chances the blood found next the to bloody foots prints coming from someone other than Simpson was only 1-in-9.7 Billion[124][125] and the chances of the blood found on a sock in Simpsons bedroom coming from anyone else other than Nicole Brown was only 1-in-6.8 Billion.[126]

Gary Sims of the California Department of Justice Crime Lab testified on May 16, 1995 using DQ Alpha DNA matching that the chances of the blood found in Simpsons Bronco coming from anyone else other than the two victims was only 1-in-20 Billion.[127]

Hair and fiber evidence[edit]

Strands of hair consistent with Simpson's were found on Goldman's shirt.[128] Several strands of dark blue cotton fibers were found on Goldman. The prosecution presented a witness who said Simpson wore a similarly colored sweatsuit that night.[13] The gloves contained particles of hair consistent with Goldman's, and also contained a long strand of blonde hair similar to Brown's.[13] The knit cap contained carpet fibers consistent with fibers from Simpson's Bronco, and contained strands of a black person's hair. The defense showed the analysis that found that the hair could be Brown's was not reliable.[13]

Defense case[edit]

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.[129] 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 million and $6 million; the media dubbed the group of talented attorneys the Dream Team.[130][131]

The defense team's reasonable doubt theory was summarized as "compromised, contaminated, corrupted" in opening statements.[132][133] They argued that the DNA evidence against Simpson was "compromised" by the mishandling of criminalists Dennis Fung and Andrea Mazzola during the collection phase of evidence gathering, and that 100% of the "real killer(s)" DNA was lost from the evidence samples.[134] The evidence was then "contaminated" in the LAPD crime lab by criminalist Collin Yamauchi, and Simpson's DNA from his reference vial was transferred to all but three exhibits.[135] The remaining three exhibits were planted by the police and thus "corrupted" by police fraud.[136]

Theories[edit]

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.[137][138] However, Judge Ito barred testimony about Resnick's drug use.[139] She had stayed for several days at Brown's condo until entering rehab four days before the killings. Ito stated that the defense had failed to provide sufficient direct or circumstantial evidence that the scenario was possible, indicating: "I find that the offer of proof regarding motive to be highly speculative."[140][141] Consequently, he prohibited Christian Reichardt from testifying about his former girlfriend Resnick's drug problems.[142][143][144]

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

Timeline[edit]

The defense also questioned the timeline, claiming the murders happened around 10:40.[145]

Arthritis[edit]

Dr. Robert Huizenga testified on July 14, 1995[146] that Simpson was not physically capable of carrying out the murders, saying that Goldman was a fit young man who put up a fierce struggle against his assailant. Simpson was a 46-year-old former professional football player with chronic arthritis and had scars on his knees from old football injuries. During cross-examination, the prosecution produced into evidence an exercise video that Simpson made a few weeks before the murders titled O.J. Simpson Minimum Maintenance: Fitness for Men, which showed that, despite some physical conditions and limitations, Simpson was anything but frail.[147] Dr. Huizenga admitted afterwards that Simpson could have committed the murders if he was in "the throes of an adrenaline rush."[148]

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.[46][149][150] The compromised claim was supported by the fact that Fung and Mazzola had admitted to making several mistakes during the collection of evidence. These mistakes 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 in southern California in June.[151][152][153][154][155] This, Scheck and Neufeld argued, would allow bacteria to degrade all of the "real killer(s)" DNA and thus make the samples more susceptible to cross-contamination in the LAPD crime lab.[156]

The prosecution responded that none of the admitted mistakes made by criminalist Dennis Fung or Andrea Mazzola changed the validity of the results.[157] The prosecution 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 were contamination supposedly happened. The prosecution maintained that, as all of the samples the consulting labs received were testable, while Scheck and Neufeld's theory predicts that they should have been inconclusive after being "100% degraded", the claim that the evidence was "compromised" by all the DNA being lost to bacterial degradation was not credible.[158] The prosecution also denied that contamination happened in the LAPD crime lab as well. The argument given was that if the police contaminated the "real killer(s)" blood with Simpson's blood as suggested, the result would be a mixture of both blood types. However, the results showed that only Simpson's DNA was present.[159] The prosecution also noted the defense declined to challenge any of those results by testing the evidence themselves. As the prosecution had proven the DNA on the evidence items was not 100% degraded, the defense could feasibly have tested the evidence items themselves for the "real killer(s)" DNA, yet they declined to do so.[160][149][150] Marcia Clark called Scheck and Neufeld's arguments a "smoke screen."[161][162]

The contamination claim was made by microbiologist Dr. John Gerdes.[163] He testified on August 2, 1995 that Forensic PCR DNA matching is not reliable[164][165][166][167] and "The LAPD crime lab has a substantial contamination problem. It is chronic in the sense that it doesn't go away."[158] Gerdes testified that because of the LAPD's history of contamination, he would not consider any of the PCR DNA matches in this case reliable because the tests were carried out by the LAPD. 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.[158] Gerdes believed only three of the DNA matches to have been valid, which were the same three the defense alleged to have been planted by the police.[168][159][169][170]

During cross-examination Dr. Gerdes admitted there was no evidence that cross-contamination had occurred and that he was only testifying to "what might have occurred and not what actually did occur". He also admitted that the victims blood was in the Bronco and Simpson's blood was at the crime scene and neither were due to contamination. He conceded as well that nothing happened during "packaging and shipping" that would affect the validity of the results at the two consulting labs. The prosecution also implied that Gerdes was not a credible witness because of his history: he had no forensic experience, had never collected evidence, had never done any of the DNA tests that were used in this case, had testified in 23 trials, always for a criminal defendant charged with rape, murder, or both and every time he said the DNA evidence against them was not reliable due to contamination. They also suggested that it was not a coincidence that the only three evidence samples he initially said were valid were the same three the defense claimed were planted.[171] Defense forensic DNA expert Dr. Henry Lee testified on August 24, 1995 and admitted during cross-examination that Gerdes's claim was "highly improbable".[172][173][164][174]

Barry Scheck's eight-day cross-examination of Dennis Fung was lauded in the media[175] and described as "the greatest cross examination since the Scopes trial."[176] It produced several iconic catchphrases for the trial including "How about that, Mr. Fung?" and "Where is it Mr. Fung?". Johnnie Cochran was even quoted as saying "I'm having a 'Fung' day" during the cross-examination. Afterwards, Dennis Fung shook hands with Scheck which surprised many.[177][178] However, Howard Coleman, president of Seattle-based forensic DNA laboratory GeneLex criticized Scheck's cross-examination as "smoke and mirrors" and stated "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."[179] After the trial, Dr. Henry Lee published a study in 1996 that concluded "no significant contamination occurs during DNA testing from random acts of carelessness in the lab".[180]

During cross-examination, Dr. Robin Cotton of Cellmark Diagnostics admitted that, while two errors had been found in the history of DNA testing at Cellmark, one of the testing laboratories, in 1988 and 1989, the errors were found during quality control tests and had not occurred since.[46] Dr. John Gerdes admitted that his own lab had made the same error as well.[12]

Defense forensic DNA expert Dr. Edward Blake, founder of the California-based Forensic Science Associates and the first person to pioneer the use of DNA evidence in court, revealed after the trial that he had not testified because his review of the case found no criticism of the testing conducted by Gary Sims, Renee Montgomery or Dr. Robin Cotton at the two consulting labs.[181]

Police conspiracy allegation[edit]

Poster describing reasonable doubt theory proposed by the defense.

The defense initially only claimed that three exhibits were planted by the police[182] but eventually argued that virtually all of the blood evidence against Simpson was planted in a police conspiracy.[183][184][185] They accused prison nurse Thano Peratis,[186] criminalists Fung,[152] Mazzola,[154] and Yamauchi,[135] and detectives Vannatter[187] and Fuhrman,[188] of participating in a plot to frame Simpson. In closing arguments, Cochran called Fuhrman and Vannatter "twins of deception"[189] and told the jury to remember Vannatter as "the man who carried the blood"[190] and Fuhrman as "the man who found the glove."[191]

The "Race card"[edit]

In the wake of the LA Riots,[192] the defense strategy focused on race. In an article by Jeffrey Toobin in the July 25 issue of The New Yorker, the defense revealed that they planned to play the "race card". Shapiro later admitted the defense played the "race card," "from the bottom of the deck."[193] On Sunday, February 12, 1995, a long motorcade traveled to Brentwood and the jurors, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and Judge Ito made a two-hour inspection of the crime scene. It was followed by a three-hour tour of Simpson's estate. Simpson was under guard by several officers but did not wear handcuffs; he waited outside the crime scene in and around an unmarked police car and was permitted to enter his house. Simpson's defense team had switched out his photos of whites for blacks, including switching a picture of a nude Paula Barbieri for a Norman Rockwell painting from Cochran's office.

During an aggressive cross-examination by F. Lee Bailey,[194] Mark Fuhrman denied on the stand that he had used the word "nigger" to describe African Americans in the ten years prior to his testimony.[194] However, a few months later, the defense discovered audiotapes of Fuhrman repeatedly using the word – 41 times, in total. The tapes had been made between 1985 and 1994 by a young North Carolina screenwriter named Laura Hart McKinny, who had interviewed Fuhrman at length for a screenplay she was writing on women police officers. The Fuhrman tapes became one of the cornerstones of the defense's case that Fuhrman's testimony lacked credibility. Prosecutor Marcia Clark called the tapes "the biggest red herring there ever was."[195]

After Laura Hart McKinny was forced to hand 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 his fellow police officers abandoned him after Judge Ito played the audiotapes in open court for the public to hear.[196] The public reaction to the tapes was explosive and compared to the video of the Rodney King beating from a year prior. Fuhrman says he instantly became a pariah.[197] After the trial, Fuhrman explained that he was play-acting when he made the tapes, as he had been asked to be as dramatic as possible and was promised a $10,000 fee if the screenplay was produced.[198]

On September 6, 1995, Fuhrman was called back to the witness stand by the defense, after the prosecution refused to redirect him, to answer more questions. The jury was absent but the exchange was televised. Fuhrman, with his lawyer standing by his side and facing the possibility of being charged with Perjury, was instructed by his attorney to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination to two consecutive questions he was asked. 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". Uelman then briefly spoke with the other members of the defense and said he had just one more question: "Did you plant or manufacture any evidence in this case?" Following his attorney's instruction, Fuhrman replied, "I choose to assert my Fifth Amendment privilege."

After the trial, Fuhrman has stated that he is not a racist and apologized for his previous language.[199] Many of his minority former coworkers have expressed support for him.[200] He pleaded no contest to one count of perjury after the trial, retired from the LAPD and relocated to Idaho.

Blood planting[edit]

The defense alleged that 1.5 mLs of Simpson's blood was missing from his reference vial. Prison nurse Thano Peratis stated during a preliminary hearing that he had withdrawn approximately 8 mLs of blood from Simpson. However, lab records showed only 6.5 mLs was accounted for. Gregory Matheson at the Los Angeles Police Crime Lab responded that Peratis never documented how much was actually drawn from Simpson so it is not a fact that any blood is actually missing. Gary Sims of the state department lab added that blood does stick to gloves, pipettes and tubes during testing so that could explain some of it being unaccounted for. Collin Yamauchi of the LAPD crime lab also admitted to getting some of Simpson's blood on his gloves before discarding them and did not document how much was lost. The prosecution then offered a video of Peratis stating he had made a mistake and believed he only drew approximately 6.5 milliliters, as the records showed. This statement was not taken under oath as he was hospitalized at the time. In closing arguments, the defense accused Thano Peratis of being part of a "cover-up" to protect Vannatter.[201][202][203]

Vannatter also had Simpson's blood for several hours after it was drawn and chose to drive it over to Simpson's Rockingham estate and hand deliver it to Dennis Fung rather than book it immediately into evidence. The prosecution responded by pointing out that the media cameras present prove that Vannatter never went to the Bundy crime scene where Simpson's blood was allegedly planted.[204] The prosecution also pointed out that Fung's documentation showed that Vannatter turned over the blood immediately upon arriving at Simpson's Rockingham estate. Barry Scheck responded by accusing Fung of being part of a "cover-up" to protect Vannatter and falsifying his documentation because one page of his notes had been replaced with a copy but the prosecution found the original page and showed it was exactly the same.[205]

Andrea Mazzola testified during the pretrial hearing that she put her initials on the envelopes that contained the blood evidence collected from the crime scene and stored in the LAPD crime lab on June 14 but admitted that she actually documented do so on June 13, the day they were collected. Peter Neufeld accused Mazzola of being part of a "cover-up" to protect Dennis Fung and suggested that Mazzola did put her initials on the envelopes on June 13 and that Dennis Fung switched out the original envelopes that had her initials and the swatches with the "real killer(s)" blood with envelopes containing swatches that had Simpson's blood. Barry Scheck also noted that Mazzola documented that the swatches were dry on June 13 when she stored then at the crime lab but the following day the bindles they were stored in showed wet transfer stains on one swatch indicating they were actually still wet. Scheck stated in closing arguments that this was proof the swatches had been switched out by Dennis Fung. Mazzola said that one of the swatches was still wet when they were stored in the bindles and she did not notice and simply made a mistake when she documented writing her initials on June 13. At trial, Dr. Lee said "Something's wrong" about the documentation for the Bundy swatches but admitted afterwards that he never meant to imply the police tampered with them. Regarding Mazzola's explanation that one of the swatches was simply still wet prior to being stored in the bindles, he admitted "I offered that same explanation since day one".[206][207][208][209]

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, or EDTA. Ironically, it was the prosecution who asked to have the samples tested for the preservative, not the defense.[210] 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 Nicole Brown, were planted by the police. In order to support the claim, the defense pointed to the presence of EDTA, a preservative found in the purple-topped collection tubes used for police reference vials, in the samples. On July 24, 1995, Dr. Fredric Rieders, a forensic toxicologist who had analysed results provided by FBI special agent Roger Martz, 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 claim they came from the reference vials.[211][212]

During cross-examination, prosecutor Marcia Clark asked Dr. Rieders to read out loud the portion of the EPA article that stated what the normal levels of EDTA in blood are, which he referenced during his testimony. This demonstrated that he misread it 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.[213] Dr. Rieders then claimed it was a "typo" but the prosecution then produced a certified copy from the EPA disproving that claim.[214] The prosecution also had Dr. Rieders admit that EDTA is also found in food and specifically the McDonald's Big Mac and French fries he had eaten earlier that night with Brian "Kato" Kaelin.[215][216]

FBI special agent Roger Martz was called to testify by the defense on July 25, 1995 to verify his data that EDTA was present in the evidence samples and instead said he did not identify EDTA in the blood, contradicting the testimony given by Dr. Rieders the day before.[217][218] Initially, he conceded the blood samples "responded like EDTA responded" and "was consistent with the presence of EDTA" but clarified his response after hearing during the lunch break that "everyone is saying that I found EDTA, but I am not saying that". When the defense accused their own witness of changing his demeanor to favor the prosecution, he replied "I cannot be entirely truthful by only giving 'yes' and 'no' answers".[219] Martz stated that, although the presumptive test for EDTA was positive, the identification test for EDTA was inconclusive, so it was impossible to ascertain with certainty the presence of EDTA. Martz also tested his own unpreserved blood and got the same results for EDTA levels as the evidence samples which he said conclusively disproves the claim the evidence blood came from the reference vials.[220] 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".[221][222]

Back gate[edit]

The blood on the back gate was collected on July 3, 1995, rather than June 13, the day after the murders.[223] The volume of DNA on 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. They noted though it was unusual for that blood to have more DNA on it than the other samples collected at the crime scene, especially since it had been left exposed to the elements for several weeks and after the crime scene had supposedly been wash over. On March 20, 1995 Detective Vannatter testified that he instructed Fung to collect the blood on the gate on June 13 and Fung admitted he was told by Detective Vannatter to collect the blood on the gate on June 13 but didn't do so.[224] The defense suggested the reason why Fung didn't collect the blood is because it wasn't there that day and Scheck showed a blown up photograph taken of the back gate on June 13 and he admitted he could not see it in the photograph[225] However, The prosecution found a different photograph that showed the blood was present on the back gate on June 13 and before the blood had been taken from Simpson's arm.[226][227] Officer Robert Riske was the first officer to 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.[228] Multiple other officers also testified under oath that the blood was present on the back gate the night of the murders.[190]

Socks[edit]

The defense alleged that the police planted Nicole Brown's blood on the socks found in Simpson's bedroom. The socks were found by Detective Fuhrman, but the defense suggested Detective Vannatter was the one who planted the blood. Vannatter had received both reference vials from the victims from the coroner and booked them immediately into evidence earlier that day. Vannatter then drove back to Rockingham later that day to hand deliver the reference vial for Simpson to Dennis 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[229] but the prosecution later demonstrated that those blood stains are only visible underneath a microscope.[157] Defense witness and police photographer Willie Ford showed a video of the floor at the end of Simpson's bed without the socks present but during cross-examination Ford admitted the video was taken after the socks had already been collected.[230] Defense blood spatter expert Herbert MacDonell testified on July 31, 1995, that the only way such a blood spatter pattern as that which was found on the socks could appear were if Simpson had a "hole" in his ankle, or a drop of blood were placed on the sock while it was not being worn. However, during cross-examination he conceded that it was possible to produce the same pattern if Nicole Brown had grabbed Simpson by the ankle during the attack or if Simpson had simply touched the socks with his hands after taking them off.[231] Dr. Henry Lee also testified that the collection procedure of the socks could have caused contamination because they were photographed being separate from each other but were packaged together but admitted during cross-examination that the results would be the same in either case.[232]

Vannatter denied that he planted the blood and the prosecution noted that the Phenolphthalein test was positive before he arrived, proving that blood was already present on the socks. The video from Willie Ford proves that the socks had already been collected and stored in the evidence van before Vannatter arrived as well and the media cameras prove that he never went inside the evidence van when he arrived at Rockingham.[233]

Glove[edit]

Mark Fuhrman in 2008

The third exhibit allegedly planted was the bloody glove found at Simpson's property by Detective Mark Fuhrman.[234] 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.[235] Cochran responded to Fuhrman pleading the Fifth by accusing the other officers of being involved in a "cover-up" to protect Fuhrman and asked Judge Ito to suppress all of the evidence that Fuhrman found as a result of his pleading the fifth. Judge Lance Ito denied the request stating that pleading the fifth does not imply guilt and there was no evidence of fraud. Cochran then asked that the jury be allowed to hear Fuhrman taking the fifth and again Ito denied his request because juries often interpret that to imply guilt. Judge Ito also criticized the defenses theory of how Fuhrman allegedly planted the glove stating "it would strain logic to believe that".[236]

Defense attorney F. Lee Bailey suggested that Fuhrman found the glove at the crime scene, picked it up with a stick and placed it in a plastic bag, which he then concealed in his sock when he drove to Simpson's home with Detectives Lange and Vannatter and his partner Detective Philips. Bailey suggested that Fuhrman had then planted the glove in order to frame Simpson, with the motive either being racism or a desire to become the hero in a high-profile case.[237] Bailey also suggested that Fuhrman used the glove like a paint brush to plant blood onto and inside the Bronco.[238]

Prosecutor George Clarke, who specialized in DNA evidence, wrote that it was difficult to refute the defense's corruption claim about the glove deductively because the DNA results would be the same whether it had been planted or not, so they used inductive arguments instead. The primary problem with the glove was not the DNA evidence but that it was found on Simpson's property and the only possible explanation for that was either Simpson was guilty or it was planted there.[239] During redirect, the prosecution made numerous points to support the contention that Fuhrman did not plant the glove. They noted that by the time Fuhrman had arrived at the Simpson home, the crime scene at Brown's home had already been combed over by several officers for almost two hours, and none had noticed a second glove at the scene, including Lt. Frank Spangler. Spangler testified that only one glove was found at the crime scene, by him and the other two officers who were there first, and that he had been with Fuhrman for the duration of Fuhrman's time at the scene. Spangler stated that he would have seen Fuhrman purloin the glove if he had in fact done so. Detective Tom Lange testified on March 8, 1995 that 14 other officers were there when Fuhrman arrived as well and all said there was only one glove at the crime scene.[240] Marcia Clark went on to add 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 belong to Simpson, and whether Kaelin had already searched the area where the glove was found and would therefore have been able to confirm that it had not been there prior to Fuhrman's arrival.[241][242]

Dr. John Gerdes testified on August 8, 1995, that Simpson's blood on the glove could have been the result of cross-contamination in the LAPD crime lab. The only part of the glove that had Simpson's blood was on the wrist area, where Collin Yamauchi had put his initials.[243] He also admitted to getting some of Simpson's blood on his latex gloves earlier when he opened Simpson's reference vial.[244] Yamauchi testified he changed his gloves to avoid contamination after handling Simpsons reference vial, and the defense did not claim that the blood on the glove contained the preservative EDTA from Simpson's reference vial, as they had with the sample found on the back gate, which the defense claimed to have been planted from the reference vial.[171]

On June 15, 1995, Christopher Darden surprised Marcia 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 they had been soaked in blood from Simpson, Brown and Goldman,[46] and frozen and unfrozen several times. Instead they presented a witness who testified that Nicole Brown had purchase a pair of those gloves in the same size in 1990 at Bloomingdales for Simpson along with a receipt and a photo during the trial of Simpson earlier wearing the same type of gloves.[245]

The leather gloves appeared too tight for Simpson to put on easily, especially over the latex gloves he wore underneath. Marcia Clark claimed that Simpson was acting when he appeared to be struggling to put on the gloves and noted that he was smiling during the demonstration and not clinching his hands. Johnnie Cochran replied "I don't think he could act the size of his hands."[13][245] Darden then told Judge Ito of his concerns that Simpson "has arthritis and we looked at the medication he takes and some of it is anti-inflammatory and we are told he has not taken the stuff for a day and it caused swelling in the joints and inflammation in his hands." Cochran informed Judge Ito that Shawn Chapman contacted the Los Angeles County Jail doctor, who confirmed Simpson was taking his medication every day and that the jail's medical records verified this.[246] Uelmen came up with, and Cochran repeated, a quip he used in his closing arguments: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit".

The prosecution stated they believed the gloves shrank from having been soaked in the blood of the victims.[13] Richard Rubin, former vice president of glove maker Aris Isotoner Inc. which makes the gloves in question, testified on September 12, 1995 that the gloves had indeed shrunk from their original size. He stated "the gloves in the original condition would easily go onto the hand of someone of Mr. Simpson's size." Christopher Darden, then produced a new pair of the same type of gloves Nicole Brown had purchased Simpson in 1990 and had Simpson wear them and they fit just fine.[247]

After the trial, Johnnie Cochran revealed that it was F. Lee Bailey who had goaded Christopher Darden into asking Simpson to try on the gloves[248] and Robert Shapiro who told Simpson in advance how to give the appearance that they don't fit.[249] On September 8, 2012, Darden accused Cochran of tampering with the glove before the trial.[250] Dershowitz, a member of the Simpson defense team, refuted the claim, stating "the defense doesn't get access to evidence except under controlled circumstances."[251]

Summation[edit]

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

The prosecution told the jury in closing arguments that Fuhrman was a racist, but said that this should not detract from the factual evidence that showed Simpson's guilt.[5] In Cochran's summation to the jury, 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 "a genocidal racist, a perjurer, America's worst nightmare and the personification of evil".[5] In response, Fred Goldman referred to Cochran himself as "the worst kind of racist ever" and a "sick man" for making such a comparison.

Verdict[edit]

Fears grew that race riots would erupt across Los Angeles and the rest of the country if Simpson was convicted of the murders, similar to the riots in 1992. 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 occurred nationwide due to the verdict.

At 10:07 a.m. on October 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted on both counts of murder. The only testimony reviewed was that of limo driver Alan Park. The jury arrived at the verdict by 3:00 p.m. on October 2, after four hours of deliberation, but Judge Ito postponed the announcement.[252] After the verdict was read, juror number six, 44-year-old Lionel Cryer, gave Simpson a black power raised fist salute.[253] 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".[254]

An estimated 100 million people worldwide watched or listened to the verdict announcement. Long-distance telephone call volume declined by 58%, and trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange decreased by 41%. Water usage decreased as people avoided using bathrooms. So much work stopped that the verdict cost an estimated $480 million in lost productivity.[252] The U.S. Supreme Court received a message on the verdict during oral arguments, with the justices quietly passing the note to each other while listening to the attorney's presentation. Congressmen canceled press conferences, with one telling reporters, "Not only would you not be here, but I wouldn't be here, either".[255]

Reaction to the verdict[edit]

After the verdict against Simpson, most blacks surveyed said they believed justice had been served. Most whites (75%) disagreed with the verdict and believed that it was racially motivated.[14] Discussion of the racial elements of the case continued long after the trial's end. An NBC poll taken in 2004 reported that, although 77% of 1,186 people sampled thought Simpson was guilty, only 27% of blacks in the sample believed so, compared to 87% of whites. In 2016, FiveThirtyEight reported that most black people now think Simpson was guilty.[256] According to a 2016 poll, 83% of white Americans and 57% of black Americans believe that Simpson committed the murders.[257]

District Attorney Garcetti's supporters noted that the decision to move the trial was made by the Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge, and not by Garcetti. The trial was moved due to security concerns at the smaller facility and the poor physical condition of the Santa Monica Courthouse.[258] In a 2010 review, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise said that District Attorney Garcetti had "micromanaged" the trial, and that he had decided to have Simpson try on the gloves in open court that had been recovered at the murder scene and at Simpson's estate. Also, pundits criticized the prosecution for calling Fuhrman to the witness stand in the first place; they criticized the prosecution for lack of due diligence, which should have discovered his earlier racist statements. The D.A.'s office argued that the defense would have called Fuhrman anyway and that no one knew of the existence of the McKinny tapes until after the trial started.[259]

Critics of the jury's not-guilty verdict contended that the deliberation time was unduly short in comparison to the length of the trial. Some said that the jurors, most of whom did not have any college education, did not understand the forensic evidence.[260] In post-trial interviews, a few of the jurors said that they believed Simpson probably did commit the murders,[261] but that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Three jurors together wrote and published a book called Madam Foreman,[262] in which they described how their perception of police errors, not race, led to their verdict. They said that they considered Darden to be a token black assigned to the case by the prosecutor's office.[194] In Ezra Edelman's 2016 documentary O.J.: Made in America, however, juror number 9, Carrie Bess, confirmed in an interview that 90% of the jury actually decided to acquit Simpson as payback for the Rodney King incident, not because they believed in his innocence, and when asked if she believed the decision was correct, Bess merely shrugged indifferently.[263]

Books[edit]

In 1996, Cochran wrote and published a book about the trial. It was titled Journey to Justice, and described his involvement in the case.[264] That same year, fellow defense attorney Shapiro also published a book about the trial, entitled The Search for Justice. He criticized Bailey as a "loose cannon" and Cochran for bringing race into the trial.[265] In contrast to Cochran's book, Shapiro said that he does not believe that Simpson was framed by the LAPD, but considered the verdict correct due to reasonable doubt.[194] In a subsequent interview with Barbara Walters, Shapiro vowed that he would never again work with either Bailey or Cochran.

Clark published a book about the case titled Without a Doubt (1998).[266] Her book recounts the trial proceedings, from jury selection to final summation. She concluded that nothing could have saved her case, given the defense's strategy of highlighting racial issues related to Simpson and the LAPD, and the predominance of blacks on the jury. In Clark's opinion, the prosecution's factual evidence, particularly the DNA, should have easily convicted Simpson. That it did not, she says, attests to a judicial system compromised by issues of race and celebrity.

Former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi wrote a book titled Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder (1997). Bugliosi was very critical of Clark and Darden, faulting them, among other reasons, for not introducing the note that Simpson had written before trying to flee. He contended that the note "reeked" of guilt and that the jury should have been allowed to see it. He also noted that the jury was never informed about items found in the Bronco. The prosecution said that they felt these items of evidence would bring up emotional issues on Simpson's part that could harm their case, despite the fact that the items seemed as though they could be used for fleeing.[5][267] He also criticized them for not wanting the jury to see or hear Simpson denying guilt, when there would not be a trial had Simpson not entered a not guilty plea. Bugliosi also said the prosecutors should have gone into more detail about Simpson's domestic abuse and presented evidence contrary to the defense's assertion that Simpson was a leader in the black community. Bugliosi also criticized the prosecution for trying the murder in Los Angeles, rather than Santa Monica, and described the prosecution's closing statements as inadequate.[267] .[258] During the jury selection process, the defense made it difficult for the prosecution to challenge potential black jurors, on the grounds that it is illegal to dismiss someone from the jury for racially motivated reasons. (California courts barred peremptory challenges to jurors based on race in People v. Wheeler,[268] years before the U.S. Supreme Court would do so in Batson v. Kentucky).[269]

Defense forensic DNA expert Dr. Henry Lee published Blood Evidence: How DNA Is Revolutionizing The Way We Solve Crimes (2003). He devotes the last two chapters to explaining the arguments of Scheck and Neufeld against the DNA evidence in the Simpson case. Lee notes that Scheck and Neufeld had established national reputations for doubting the scientific underpinnings of DNA testing and challenging their admissibility in court. It was only recently before the trial, in 1992, they accepted the validity of DNA testing and founded the Innocence Project.[270] Lee writes that neither of the defenses's forensic DNA experts, Dr. Henry Lee or Dr. Edward Blake, considered Scheck and Neufeld's reasonable doubt theory about the blood evidence plausible. In hindsight, Dr. Lee opines that Scheck and Neufeld's claim that "the blood evidence is only as good as the people collecting it" was an obfuscation tactic to conflate the validity of the evidence with the integrity of the LAPD and then attack the latter because both Scheck and Neufeld knew that the defense's forensic DNA experts reached the same conclusion as the prosecution: the mistakes made during evidence collection did not render the results unreliable.[271] Lee opines that the jury did not understand the significance and precision of the DNA evidence. He bases this on comments from jurors after the trial, some of which included claims that the blood at the crime scene that matched Simpson had "degraded" and could possibly have been from Simpson's children or from one of the officials who collected the evidence. He attributes this misinterpretation to Scheck and Neufeld's deliberate obfuscation and deception about the reliability of the results. Lee believes the jury thought Scheck and Neufeld were trustworthy because of their work with the Innocence Project and suggests that is the reason why they considered their arguments reasonable. After the trial, the jurors faced harsh criticism for doubting the DNA evidence while Scheck and Neufeld received praise. Lee believes that the scathing criticism the jurors faced for doubting the DNA evidence based on the arguments Scheck and Neufeld made might have been the reason why they were the only two DNA experts from the criminal trial to decline to return for the subsequent civil trial to make those claims again.[272]

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[28]

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.[80] The case was a seminal event in the history of reality television.[28] The Los Angeles Times covered the case on its front page for more than 300 days after the murders. The Big Three television networks' nightly news broadcasts gave more air time to the case than to the Bosnian War and the Oklahoma City bombing combined. The media outlets served an enthusiastic audience; one company put the loss of national productivity from employees following the case instead of working at $40 billion.[273] 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.[274] According to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, the acquittal was "the most dramatic courtroom verdict in the history of Western civilization".[275]

Participants in the case received much media coverage. Fans approached Clark at restaurants and malls, and when she got a new hairstyle during the trial, the prosecutor received a standing ovation on the courthouse steps; People approved of the change, but advised her to wear "more fitted suits and tailored skirts". While Cochran, Bailey and Dershowitz were already well-known, others like Kaelin became celebrities, and Resnick and Simpson's girlfriend Paula Barbieri appeared in Playboy. Those involved in the trial followed their own media coverage; when Larry King appeared in the courtroom after a meeting with Ito, both Simpson and Clark praised King's talk show. Interest in the case was worldwide; Russian president Boris Yeltsin's first question to President Clinton when they met in 1995 was, "Do you think O.J. did it?".[28]

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.[276] 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.[252] Ito was also criticized for allowing the trial to become a media circus and not doing enough to regulate the court proceedings.[277]

Among the reporters who covered the trial daily from the courtroom, and a media area that was dubbed "Camp O.J.",[278] 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.[279] The image was darker than a typical magazine image, and the Time photo was darker than the original, as shown on a Newsweek cover released at the same time. Time became the subject of a media scandal. Commentators found that its staff had used photo manipulation to darken the photo, and speculated it was to make Simpson appear more menacing. After the publication of the photo drew widespread criticism of racist editorializing and yellow journalism, Time publicly apologized.[280]

Charles Ogletree, a former criminal defense attorney and current professor at Harvard Law School, said in a 2005 interview for PBS' Frontline that the best investigative reporting around the events and facts of the murder, and the evidence of the trial, was by the National Enquirer.[281]

Aftermath[edit]

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?"[282]

In April 1998, Simpson did an interview with talk show host Ruby Wax. In an apparent joke, Simpson shows up at her hotel room claiming to have a surprise for her, and suddenly waved a banana about his head, as if it were a knife, and pretended to stab Wax with it. The footage soon made its way onto U.S. TV networks, causing outrage.[citation needed]

As of April 2001, Los Angeles Police Department homicide Detective Vic Pietrantoni was assigned to the Simpson-Goldman case.[283]

Civil Trial[edit]

In 1996, Fred Goldman and Sharon Rufo, the parents of Ron Goldman, filed a suit against Simpson for wrongful death, while Brown's estate, represented by her father Lou Brown,[284] brought suit against Simpson in a "survivor suit." The trial took place over four months in Santa Monica and, by judge's order, was not televised.[277][285] The Goldman family was represented by Daniel Petrocelli, with Simpson represented by Bob Baker.[285] Attorneys for both sides were given high marks by observing lawyers.[285] Simpson's defense in the trial was estimated to cost $1 million and was paid for by an insurance policy on his company, Orenthal Enterprises.[284]

Fuhrman was not called to testify, and Simpson was subpoenaed to testify on his own behalf.[8][14] In addition, photographer E.J. Flammer claimed to have found a photograph he had taken of Simpson at a Buffalo Bills-Miami Dolphins game in 1993 that appeared to show him wearing a pair of the Bruno Magli shoes, later published in the National Enquirer. Simpson's defense team claimed that the photograph was doctored, but other pre-1994 photos appearing to show Simpson wearing Bruno Magli shoes were later discovered and published.[286] These photos were not known about until late in the criminal trial and not during the "big shoe debate".[287][288][289] Simpson had previously denied ever wearing such shoes.[289]

The jury in the trial awarded Brown and Simpson's children, Sydney and Justin (Brown's only children), $12.6 million from their father as recipients of their mother's estate.[8] The victims' families were awarded $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, thereby finding Simpson "responsible" for the respective murders.[290] In 2008, a Los Angeles superior court approved the plaintiffs' renewal application on the court judgment against Simpson.[291]

Four years after the trial, at an auction to pay some of the money in the compensation order, Bob Enyart, a conservative Christian radio host, paid $16,000 for some of Simpson's memorabilia, including his Hall of Fame induction certificate, two jerseys, and two trophies he was given for charity work. Enyart took the items outside the courthouse where the auction was held, burned the certificate and jerseys, and smashed the trophies with a sledgehammer.[292][293]

If I Did It[edit]

In November 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 special featuring Simpson. "This is a historic case, and I consider this his confession," publisher Judith Regan told the Associated Press.[294] On November 20, News Corporation, parent company of ReganBooks and Fox, canceled both the book and the TV interview due to a high level of public criticism. CEO Rupert Murdoch, speaking at a press conference, stated: "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project."[295]

Later, the Goldman family was awarded rights to the book to satisfy part of the judgment against Simpson. The title of the book was changed to If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. On the front cover of the book, the title was stylized with the word "If" to appear much smaller than those of "I Did It", and placed inside the "I", so unless looked at very closely, the title of the book reads "I Did It: Confessions of the Killer".[296]

On March 11, 2018, Fox broadcast Simpson's previously unaired interview with Regan, which was part of the book deal in a special titled O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?[297] In the decade-old interview, which was supposed to air with the release of the book by ReganBooks, Simpson gave a very detailed hypothesis on how the murders would have been committed if he had been involved, initially using phrases like "I would" and "I'd think", but later moved to using first person phrasing with sentences like "I remember I grabbed the knife", "I don't remember except I'm standing there", "I don't recall", and "I must have", and involving a supposed accomplice named "Charlie". Due to the change in phrasing, these comments were interpreted by many as being a form of confession, which stirred strong reactions in print media and the internet.[298][299]

Later developments[edit]

As a result of a 2007 incident in Las Vegas, Nevada, regarding an attempt to steal materials Simpson claimed were stolen from him, Simpson was convicted in 2008 of multiple felonies including use of a deadly weapon to commit kidnapping, burglary and armed robbery, and sentenced to a minimum nine years to a maximum 33 years in prison. His attempts to appeal the sentence were unsuccessful and he was detained at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada.[300] During his 2013 parole hearing, Simpson was granted parole on all counts except weapons-related and the two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. After a July 20, 2017, Nevada parole board hearing voting unanimously 4–0, Simpson was granted parole after a minimum nine-year sentence on the remaining counts for the Vegas robbery with Sunday, October 1, 2017, to be his release date from prison on parole. According to Nevada law if he continues his good behavior, Simpson will have his 33-year sentence reduced by 50% to make September 29, 2022, the end of his sentence.[301] Upon release, Simpson intends to reside near his family in Miami, Florida, where he moved in 2000. Florida is one of the few U.S. states that protect one's homes and pensions from seizures for such debts as those awarded following the civil trial. Goldman's father and sister, Fred and Kim, did not appear before the board, but stated that they had received about 1% of the $33.5 million that Simpson owes from the wrongful death suit.[302][303][304][305][306][307][308]

Simpson has participated in two high-profile interviews regarding the case – one in 1996 with Ross Becker, which outlines Simpson's side of the story, as well as a guided tour of his estate, where evidence used in the trial was found. The second took place in 2004, on the tenth anniversary of the murders, with Katie Couric for NBC speaking to Simpson. He had worked for that network as a sports commentator.[309]

In May 2008, Mike Gilbert, a former agent and friend of Simpson, released his book How I Helped O.J. Get Away with Murder,[310] which details Simpson confessing to the killings to Gilbert.[311] Gilbert states that Simpson had smoked marijuana and taken a sleeping pill and was drinking beer when he confided at his Brentwood home weeks after his trial what happened the night of the murders. Simpson said, "If she hadn't opened that door with a knife in her hand ... she'd still be alive." This, Gilbert said, confirmed his belief that Simpson had confessed.[312][313]

In March 2016, the LAPD announced a knife had been found in 1998 buried at Simpson's estate, when the buildings were razed. A construction worker had given the knife to a police officer, who, believing the case had been closed, did not submit it as evidence at the time. Forensic tests demonstrated that the knife was not related to the murder.[314]

The presence of Kardashian on Simpson's legal team, combined with the press coverage of the trial, was the catalyst for the ongoing popularity of the Kardashian family.[315] While Kardashian's ex-wife Kris Jenner was already married to former Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner at the time of the trial, Kardashian's family was mostly out of the public eye before the trial, only becoming famous due to the trial.[316]

Other theories[edit]

The murders continue to be the subject of research and speculation.[317] For example, Detective William Dear conducted a lengthy investigation, and his evidence and conclusions, among those of other experts (e.g., Dr. Henry Lee[318]) who have reviewed the crime, trial, and evidence, were addressed in the BBC documentary O.J.: The True Untold Story (2000). The documentary, produced by Malcolm Brinkworth, claims that the police and prosecution had contaminated or planted evidence pointing to Simpson as the killer, and ignored exculpatory evidence. Furthermore, it asserts that the state too hastily eliminated other possible suspects, including Simpson's elder son Jason, and individuals linked to the illegal drug trade, in which Brown, Goldman and Resnick allegedly participated.[319][318][320][example's importance?]

Alternative theories of the murders, supposedly shared by Simpson, have suggested they were related to the Los Angeles drug trade,[321] and that Michael Nigg, a friend and co-worker of Goldman, was murdered as well. Simpson himself has stated in numerous interviews that he believes the two had been killed over their involvement in drug dealing in the area, and that other murders at the time were carried out for the same reason. Brown, Simpson believed, had been planning to open a restaurant using proceeds from cocaine sales. Mezzaluna was reportedly a nexus for drug trafficking in Brentwood.[321]

Brett Cantor, part-owner of the Dragonfly nightclub in Hollywood, was found stabbed to death in his nearby home on July 30, 1993;[322] no suspects have ever been identified.[323] The case gained renewed attention a year later when Simpson's defense team successfully petitioned the court trying him for the murders of Brown and Goldman for access to the case file, on the grounds that the way in which all three were stabbed suggested the same killer.[324] Since Goldman had worked for Cantor as a waiter, and Nicole was a regular at Dragonfly, some books about the case have raised the possibility that the three killings may also have resulted from involvement in drug trafficking.[321][325][326]

Michael Nigg, an aspiring actor and waiter at a Los Angeles restaurant, was shot and killed during an attempted robbery on September 8, 1995, while withdrawing money from an ATM.[327] Three suspects were arrested a month later but released due to a lack of evidence and the case remains unsolved. Since Nigg was a friend of Ronald Goldman, with whom he had worked, and seemed to live quite well for someone in his position, some reports have suggested that he was involved in drug trafficking. Nigg's murder has been used to support theories that the murders of Goldman and O.J. Simpson's ex-wife Nicole the year before were drug-related as well.

In 2012, several links between the killings and convicted murderer Glen Edward Rogers were alleged in the documentary film My Brother the Serial Killer, which was broadcast on Investigation Discovery (ID). Clay Rogers, Glen's brother, recounts Glen saying how he had met Brown and was "going to take her down" a few days before the murders happened in 1994. When the murder case was under process, Van Nuys ADA Lea D'Argostino came to know about a written statement from Glen revealing he had met Brown. The information was forwarded to Simpson's prosecutors, but was ignored. Much later, in his years-long correspondence with criminal profiler Anthony Meolis, Glen also wrote about and created paintings pointing towards his involvement with the murders. During a personal prison meeting between the two, Glen said he was hired by Simpson to break into Brown's house and steal some expensive jewelry, and that Simpson had told him: "you may have to kill the bitch". In a filmed interview, Glen's brother Clay asserts that his brother confessed his involvement.[328] Rogers' family stated that he had informed them that he had been working for Nicole in 1994 and that he had made verbal threats about her to them. Rogers would later speak to a criminal profiler about the Goldman–Simpson murders, providing details about the crime and remarking that he had been hired by O. J. Simpson to steal a pair of earrings and potentially murder Nicole.

"The Shocking Case of O.J. Simpson", released September 29, 2017, was episode 10 of season 2 of BuzzFeed web series BuzzFeed Unsolved and discussed those theories.

In his book, Legacy of Deception: An Investigation of Mark Fuhrman and Racism in the L.A.P.D., writer Stephen Singular argues that detective Mark Fuhrman could have used a piece of broken fence as a stick to pick up one of two bloody gloves found at the Bundy crime scene and place it in a blue plastic bag.[329] According to Singular, Fuhrman could have subsequently removed the bloody glove from the plastic bag and planted it at Simpson's Rockingham estate in order to frame him.[329] A plastic bag was eventually recovered from Rockingham and a broken piece of fence was eventually recovered from the Bundy crime scene, and both were introduced as evidence in the trial.[329] In the outline to his book, which was used during the trial, Singular also said that law enforcement sources told him that lab technicians or other LAPD personnel had mishandled blood samples during the case.[330]

Reaction from individuals involved[edit]

Such theories have been refuted by Clark,[331] Brown's sister Tanya, and Fred Goldman who said, "I believe [O.J.] did it, and he did it alone".[332]

The families of Brown and Goldman expressed anger at the premise of My Brother the Serial Killer, with both families dismissing the claims by the Rogers family.[333] Kim Goldman accused ID of irresponsibility, stating that no one had informed her of Glen Rogers' claims that he had been involved in her brother's death.[333]

ID's president, Henry Schlieff, replied that the documentary's intention was not to prove Rogers had committed the crimes, but to "give viewers new facts and let them make up their own minds", and that he believed Simpson was guilty of the murders.[334] Schlieff also commented that the movie did not point out any inconsistencies with the claims or evidence against Rogers because "ID viewers are savvy enough to root them out on their own."[334]

According to O.J.: Made in America director Ezra Edelman, no plausible alternative theory has emerged. [256]

In popular culture[edit]

Media adaptations[edit]

TV[edit]

Episodes of sitcoms, such as The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia ("Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense") and Seinfeld ("The Big Salad", "The Caddy"), have mocked the case, or more specifically, Simpson himself.[344]

Music[edit]

R&B group H-Town dedicated their album Ladies Edition, Woman's World (1997) to Brown, to help victims of domestic violence.[345]

Rapper Eminem referenced the murders in his 1999 song "Role Model", saying, "Me and Marcus Allen went over to see Nicole, When we heard a knock at the door, must have been Ron Gold. Jumped behind the door, put the orgy on hold, Killed them both and smeared blood in a white Bronco (We Did It)".[346]

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

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

Hip hop artist Magneto Dayo released a 2013 "diss track" song titled "OJ Simpson" in which he insults his ex-girlfriend/artist V-Nasty, by referencing the Simpson murder case. The song's lyrics were also added to the Houston Press' list of "The 15 Most Messed-Up O.J. Simpson Lyrics".[347][348]

Video games[edit]

The video game Duke Nukem 3D had several allusions to the OJ trial, including a television playing the Bronco chase.[349]

Exhibits[edit]

The suit Simpson wore when he was acquitted on October 3, 1995, was donated by Simpson's former agent Mike Gilbert to the Newseum in 2010. The Newseum has multiple trial-related items in their collection, including press passes, newspapers and the mute button that Superior Court Judge Lance Ito used when he wanted to shut off the live microphone in court so lawyers could talk privately during the trial. The museum's acquisition of the suit ended the legal battle between Gilbert and Fred Goldman, both of whom claimed the right to the clothing.[350]

The Bronco from the famous police chase was on display at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, as of late 2016.[351]

In 2017 Adam Papagan curated a pop-up museum showcasing artifacts and ephemera from the trial at Coagula Curatorial gallery in Los Angeles.[352][353]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]