‘The People vs. O.J. Simpson’: The story behind the murder
For those of us who were born after the 90s or grew up during them, we have some form of cultural knowledge of the case of O.J. Simpson. Formerly a beloved football star turned actor, Simpson had a clean-cut good guy image that as shattered irrevocably with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
The trial of O.J. Simpson was The Trial of the 90s and possibly the century. It was a trial where the drama played out in the courtroom and on the courthouse steps. While, years later, popular consciousness is in agreement that Simpson got away with murder; at the time it was a very different story.
So if you’re thinking about bingeing American Crime Story: The People vs O.J. Simpson, then here’s what you need to know.
Double Homicide in Brentwood
On June 13, 1994, at 12:10am, the bodies of Brown and Goldman were discovered outside of Brown’s Brentwood home. Neighbors were led to the bodies by Nicole’s pet dog, an Akita, who was wandering around the area with bloodstained paws. Police believe that the pair had been dead for two hours prior to the discovery, believing the murders took place between 10:15pm and 11:00pm on June 12.
Both Brown and Goldman had been stabbed multiple times. Near Goldman’s body was a blue knit cap and a single left hand glove (an extra large Aris Isotoner light leather glove). Bloody shoe prints were left by the assailant as they exited through the backgate along with drops of blood (police believed that the assailant cut their left hand) and there were some coins also on the ground.
As Simpson was the ex-husband of Brown, the police naturally wanted to talk with him. Simpson, however, was on a flight to Chicago when police arrived, he had meetings with Hertz car rental representatives and was scheduled to play golf. Simpson’s flight was an 11:45pm red-eye from L.A, which he did make.
Limo driver Allan Park was supposed to pick Simpson up, arriving early at 10:25pm in order to make sure he could navigate the stretch limo. He would testify that he didn’t see Simpson’s Ford Bronco in the area when he arrived. At 10:40pm, after figuring out the logistics, Park rang the buzzer at the Rockingham entrance for Simpson’s estate, saying the home was dark and no one appeared home. Minutes later, Park would say a “shadowy figure” that resembled Simpson sneaking into the house.
Around this time, Simpson’s friend and house guest Kato Kaelin heard three loud thumps near the south walkway where evidence would later be found. Kaelin would go look around where he saw Park’s limo at the opposite gate and let him in.
Simpson then emerged, saying he overslept, and appeared agitated. Park would testify that he loaded four bags into the limo from Simpson, but only three were accounted for later on. One bag, a knapsack, was seen being disposed of by a witness. Police believed that this knapsack contained the murder weapon.
He would make his flight and passengers said that he did not appear to have any injuries on his person on the flight. When Simpson landed, he was met by police, who gave Simpson the news of Brown and Goldman’s deaths.
The ride of the Ford Bronco
Police, of course, did go to Simpson’s to attempt an in-person notification, namely detectives Lange, Vannatter, Philips, and Fuhrman. They reportedly buzzed the intercom for about 30 minutes. Eventually, they saw the Ford Bronco that was parked at an awkward angle and had blood on it. The detectives, believing someone was injured, decided that there were exigent circumstances to head inside.
Vannatter had Fuhrman scale the wall so that they can be let in from the inside of the gate. Fuhrman would briefly interview Kaelin and discovered the matching right hand glove to the one left at the crime scene. This evidence would give probable cause to arrest Simpson.
Simpson was arrested at his home on June 13 by police. Lange noted that Simpson had a cut on a finger on his left hand. Simpson would voluntarily give his blood to police to test and be released on the same. Shortly after, Simpson hired Robert Shapiro to be his attorney and thus began the “Dream Team” assembling, who would defend Simpson at trial.
On June 17, Simpson was supposed to surrender himself to police on two counts of first degree murder. Simpson updated his will, called his mother and children, and wrote three sealed letters: two to his family and one to the press. When it was time for Simpson to surrender himself, he was gone along with his friend Al Cowlings along with the Ford Bronco.
What followed is one of the most infamous chase scenes in the history of chases. As police followed the slow moving Bronco as Simpson contemplated suicide and had to be talked down by police. Eventually, Simpson was convinced to surrender to Detective Lange. His suicide note was released to the public. The public divide was split with people believing Simpson’s actions to be an admission of guilt, while others supported Simpson.
The trial of O.J. Simpson went from Jan. 24, 1995 and lasted 134 days. It was broadcasted on CourtTV via closed circuit camera. Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden served as the prosecution for the case. Simpson’s Dream Team defense included Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Shawn Holley, Carl E. Douglas, and Gerald Uelmen with Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld as D.N.A. experts. While Shapiro led the team initially, it was eventually taken over by Johnnie Cochran.
Clark and Darden focused on the history of domestic violence that Simpson had inflicted on Brown along with the forensic and circumstantial evidence discovered by the detectives. The Dream Team focused on disproving the D.N.A. evidence, which was a relatively new science at the time of the trial along with incompetence by the LAPD forensics people. They also pushed a conspiracy of the police against Simpson.
The jury would find Simpson Not Guilty of all charges, which remains one of the most controversial verdicts ever. In a poll taken after the case, African Americans believed that the verdict was correct while Caucasians and Latinos believed Simpson did it.
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