Guest Author - Donna Johnson
On June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson, the ex-wife of football star O.J. Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman were found murdered outside her condo in Brentwood. Brown’s two children with Simpson slept unharmed inside the condo. This discovery led to a murder case and trial that caused much debate and speculation.
O.J. Simpson emerged as the prime suspect in the murders early on. Simpson and Brown had a tumultuous relationship which included several 911 calls placed by Brown and allegations of abuse against O.J. The murders themselves were quite brutal, with each victim stabbed multiple times and Brown nearly decapitated. Simpson’s attorneys arranged for him to turn himself in to police on June 17, 1994.
Instead, Simpson’s friend Al Cowlings took him to his Brentwood home in a low-speed police chase along Interstate 405. Simpson had left a letter, which many felt sounded like a suicide note, with his attorney Robert Kardashian. When police tried to get closer to the white Bronco, Cowlings yelled to them that Simpson had a gun to his own head. Simpson remained inside the Bronco and then his home for about two hours before surrendering to police.
Simpson’s double murder trial was full of accusations of police wrongdoing, including shoddy evidence gathering, evidence planting, and racial bias. Detective Mark Fuhrman in particular was blasted for his repeated use of the “N” word during a 1985 interview with a writer, despite having testified that he hadn’t used that word in over 10 years. Fuhrman subsequently accepted a plea deal for perjury charges and served three years’ probation and paid a fine of $200.
The defense was accused of wrongdoing during the trial as well, particularly in regards to the bloody glove entered into evidence. Johnnie Cochran’s famous phrase, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” was challenged by the prosecution. They stated the glove did not fit Simpson because it was blood-soaked and had been frozen and thawed while in storage, leading to shrinkage, and because Simpson stopped taking arthritis medication, causing his hands to swell.
On October 3, 1995, the Simpson jury returned a verdict of “not guilty” after deliberating the case for only four hours. While some saw the verdict as a cause for celebration, as they believed Simpson was innocent, others viewed the verdict as a miscarriage of justice caused by jurors blinded by celebrity and fearful of a repeat of the 1992 L.A. riots that broke out after the officers accused of beating Rodney King were acquitted.
The Goldman and Brown families sued Simpson for their loved ones’ murders. In civil court, the burden of proof is much less; therefore, Simpson lost the civil trial. He was ordered to pay $46 million total, split between the Goldman and Brown families and his own children with Brown.
As of 2010, Simpson is in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping charges unrelated to the murders. He was sentenced to 33 years to life for the incident, which took place in Las Vegas in 2007. He may be paroled in 2017.