January 24 1995 - The O.J. Simpson Murder Trial Begins


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WHAT HAPPENED?


O.J. Simpson, former NFL player, broadcaster and actor, was charged with murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. Both were found stabbed to death outside of Nicole's LA home in 1994.


O.J. was immediately a person of interest. On June 17th 1994, he was involved in a low-speed car chase which garnered 95 million viewers. TV stations interrupted the NBA finals to broadcast it. This was just the beginning of one of the most highly publicized criminal cases in American history.


The trial began on January 25th, 1995 and concluded on October 3rd, 1995. O.J. was ultimately acquitted on both founds, and nobody has been charged with Brown or Goldman's murders to this day. Their families filed a lawsuit against Simpson after the trial, and on February 4th 1997 the jury found O.J. responsible. Both were awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling 33.5 million, but they've only received small portions of it.


The trial brought a lot of racial tension with it, with black people celebrating his acquittal and white and latino people feeling justice was not served.



O.J. AND NICOLE'S ROCKY MARRIAGE


Nicole and O.J. met in 1977. Though he was married at the time, the two began dating. He divorced his first wife in 1979 and then he and Brown married in 1985, after he had retired from the NFL.


Their marriage lasted 7 years, and they had 2 children, Sydney and Justin, together.


Simpson was investigated multiple times for domestic violence. He had been caught shattering her windshield with a baseball bat once. On New Year's Day in 1989, he beat her up and she called 911 saying he was going to kill her. The photos of her bruised and battered body were shown to the court during the trial.


Nicole filed for divorce in 1992, but they maintained a relationship after their divorce, but the abuse continued. During this time, another 911 call was recorded of her saying he was going to beat the shit out of her. Their relationship ended after that event.


A few weeks before the murder, she reported her extra set of keys missing, and after her death, those keys were found on Simpson. She had also called a women's shelter 4 days before the murder saying he was stalking her, and her friends corroborated that he had said he'd kill her if she was with another man. None of this was presented at the trial.


The night before the murder, Brown and Simpson went to their daughter's dance recital. After, she and the kids went to dinner at the Mezzaluna where Goldman waited on her table. After, she went to get ice cream with the kids. A call was placed to the restaurant later saying that her eyeglasses were left there, and Goldman put them in an envelope and prepared to bring them by the house.


After the recital, Simpson went to McDonald's with a family friend who said he was upset, and he may have been on drugs.



THE MURDERS


At 12:10 AM on June 13, 1994, Brown and Goldman were found stabbed outside of Nicole's LA condo.


Both had been dead for about 2 hours before the police came, estimating the murders to have occurred between 10:15 and 11:00 PM. Nicole's dog with bloodstained paws lead the neighbors to the bodies.


Nicole was found face down at the bottom of the stairs leading to her front door, which was left open. There was a lot of blood. She had been stabbed multiple times, but she had few defensive wounds. Her throat was slit so deeply that her head was barely connected to her neck. Melting ice cream and a full bath with candles and TV on were found inside the house.


Goldman was by a nearby tree and fence, stabbed multiple times in the body and neck. His beeper, car keys, and the envelope with the glasses in it were found near his body.


Based on the evidence and the crime scene, it was assumed that Nicole was the intended target of the attack.



THE PROSECUTION


The prosecution's team was made up of Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. They did not seek the death penalty, only a life sentence.


Despite presenting 488 pieces of evidence, their case was built largely around circumstantial evidence.


Their theory was that O.J., having a history of domestic violence against Nicole, was angry at her because of how she was dressed at the recital. The same night, his girlfriend left an angry voicemail breaking off their relationship. They presumed that he went over to her house to reconcile, but when she wasn't keen on reconciling, or he saw another man there, he killed her.


In terms of evidence, the famous glove was found at the crime scene and its match was found at his home.


They played the 911 calls that showed the abuse he put Brown through, and his arrest for abusing her. They had planned to share 62 instances of domestic violence, but ultimately dropped it because they felt the DNA evidence was insurmountable and what they needed to win the case.


They presented hair and fiber analysis, as well as shoe print analysis.


Their big piece of evidence, however, was the blood. His blood was found next to the victims and leading away from them. His blood and both victims' blood was found on the glove, and both victims' blood was found on the socks in his bedroom.


Though much of their evidence was circumstantial, they felt that the DNA evidence was extremely compelling and difficult to argue against.



THE DEFENSE


The defense, also known as the Dream Team, was comprised of F. Lee Bailey, Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz, Carl E. Douglas, Robert Kardashian, Peter Neufeld, Barry Scheck, Robert Shapiro, and Gerald Uelmen.


They went in strong with their motto "Compromised, contaminated, corrupted." They argued reasonable doubt.


First, they argued that the DNA was compromised due to mishandling of the evidence by the criminalists who gathered and analyzed the evidence.


Then, they argued that the evidence that made it to the crime lab was contaminated.


And for most of the other evidence the prosecution presented, the argued that it was corrupted by a police force who was trying to pin the blame on him.


One of the most famous parts of the trial is the evidence of the glove. O.J. was told to put on the glove that was found at the crime scene, and it didn't fit. And so was born, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." (However, it seems very feasible it shrunk because of all of the blood on it.)


Knowing that much of the prosecution was circumstantial, the defense was able to successfully poke holes in and raise doubt about the physical evidence they did present.



VERDICT


On October 3, 1995, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty on both counts of murder. 100 million people watched or listened to the verdict being read. Nationwide, call volume decreased by 58%, water use was down 41% and nearly $480 million was lost in productivity during the airing.


After the trial, one of the jurors a gave Simpson the "black power" raised fist, leading to the revelation that he was in the Black Panther party. Likely knowing this, it is unknown why the prosecutors allowed him on the jury panel for such a case was so race-heavy.


O.J. was arrested and jailed in 2008 for breaking into the hotel room of a sports memorabilia collector, and was released in 2017. He keeps mostly to himself these days.


Though the media buzz was at peak force 25 years ago today at the start of the widely publicized trial, it remains talked about to this day. FX's The People vs. O.J. Simpson aired in 2016, only 4 years ago and was extremely popular and breathed new life into a case that many people only knew the basics about.


Regardless of if you think O.J. did it or not, this trial was one of the biggest in history, and it started 25 years ago today.



REFERENCES:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O._J._Simpson_murder_case


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