Breakdown of the O.J. Simpson case
21st March 2016
The O.J. Simpson Trial back in 1995 was dubbed the drama of the century after the former NFL superstar was accused of murdering his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
The case has recently come back in to the spotlight with the release of the drama series The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which has been a huge success in the US and the UK.
While the drama still continues on the TV, the case is now over 20 years old and therefore some of the facts will be a distant memory now.
So if you are watching the hugely popular drama or work in a legal job and have always been fascinated with the case, we have created a breakdown of the murder and the major events from the trial as well as giving a brief overview of some of the main characters from the trial.
The people involved in the case
Born in 1947 in San Francisco, O.J. Simpson became a college football star at USC and won the famous Heisman Trophy in 1968, an award which is given out annually to the most outstanding player in college football in the United States.
Simpson then went on to become a star in the NFL as a running back for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. During his career he became the first player to gain 1,000 rushing yards in a season and the first player to gain 2,000 rushing yards in a season, as well as breaking league records for the most touchdowns (23) and most yards rushed in one game (273 yards vs Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day in 1976).
After retiring from the sport, O.J. Simpson began a successful career as a sports broadcaster and actor.
Nicole Brown Simpson
Nicole was the former wife of O.J. Simpson and the mother of their two children Sydney Simpson and Justin Simpson.
Nicole was born in Frankfurt in West Germany and moved to the US as a toddler with her German mother and American father.
According to Biography.com, Nicole was a devoted mother and refused to have nannies look after her children.
In 1985, Nicole married O.J. Simpson, however he was unfaithful and was abusive to her – in 1992 Nicole filed for divorce. You can read the text from the letter Nicole wrote to O.J. Simpson here.
Ronald Goldman was born in 1968 and worked as a waiter in a number of trendy restaurants as well as working as a model.
Goldman is seen by many as the forgotten victim with the media focusing on the relationship between O.J. and Nicole.
Ronald Goldman was a friend of Nicole and according to an article on CNN he was only dropping off glasses at Nicole’s home on the night of the murder.
On June 13th 1994 on Bundy Drive in upscale Brentwood, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death just after midnight.
Nicole had been brutally slashed and her neck was almost severed from her body, whilst forensics revealed Ronald Goldman had been stabbed repeatedly (believed to be 30 times) during a struggle.
Investigators at the scene believe the murder actually took place on the night of June 12th and the police immediately suspected Brown’s former husband O.J. Simpson.
The blood trail
Following the murders, investigators found blood drops alongside bloody shoe prints walking away from the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, as well as blood on a gate at the back of the murder scene. Blood from these places contained the same genetic markers as Simpson’s and O.J. also had a fresh cut on his hand.
The bloody shoe prints were a size 12 Bruno Magli shoe and Simpson wore size 12, although there was no evidence he had ever bought this type of shoe. There was a cashmere-lined Aris Light glove found at the murder scene and another behind Simpson’s guest house, but detective Mark Fuhrman was later accused of planting this evidence.
There were also a pair of bloodied, crumpled socks found at the foot of Simpson’s bed and DNA tests found genetic markers for Simpson and his ex-wife.
There was also a small spot of blood found near the driver’s outside door handle of Simpson’s Ford Bronco and more blood found smeared inside on the console, door, steering wheel and carpet.
Car chase and arrest
Following the murder, Simpson resided at the home of his attorney and friend, Robert Kardashian, and after the discovery of the aforementioned evidence a warrant for his arrest was issued.
The police were told that Simpson would turn himself in on June 17th, but when he went missing his lawyers held a news conference and read a statement that was interpreted as a suicide note. Police began a search for Simpson and at around 6.30pm Simpson was spotted in a white Ford Bronco which was being driven by his best friend and former team mate Al Cowlings.
When police caught up with the Ford Bronco, Cowlings called 911 to tell them that O.J. Simpson was holding a gun to his head and that all he wanted to do was to see his mum.
Following the phone call, police dropped back and followed the car at low speed back to Simpson’s residence where he was then arrested.
Check out a clip from the car chase below.
The dream defence team
The defence team that O.J. Simpson assembled before the trial became known as the Dream Team and Johnnie Cochran became the star.
Along with Cochran, who took the lead of the defence case, were Robert Kardashian, Robert Shapiro, criminal attorney Francis Lee Bailey, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, Gerald Uelmen and Carl E. Douglas.
The lead prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson case was Marcia Clark. She rose to fame during the case and was a tabloid sensation herself as she underwent a makeover mid-trial.
Christopher Darden was another prosecutor who helped orchestrate the legal strategy for the prosecution team. He was involved in one of the case’s most iconic moments when he asked O.J. Simpson to try on the blood-soaked glove.
Two witnesses who rose to prominence after the trial were Kato Kaelin and Mark Fuhrman.
Kato Kaelin was a friend of Nicole Simpson, but lived in O.J. Simpson’s house at the time of the murders. He became somewhat of a star during the trial when he was asked about what happened on the night of the murder. You can see real-life footage from his questioning during the trial here.
Mark Fuhrman was an investigator from the LAPD who found the infamous bloodied glove. The defence accused him of planting the gloves to frame Simpson because he was racist. Fuhrman was later discredited and convicted of perjury after stating that he had not used the n-word before recordings were published with him using the n-word several times.
The leather glove
Arguably the most famous day in the trial was when Simpson was asked by prosecutor Christopher Darden to try on the glove that was found at the scene of the crime.
O.J.’s defence team said he must wear a latex glove underneath the leather one and as Simpson tried the glove on it was too small for his hands and was too tight.
This point was highlighted in the closing statements of the trial when defence lawyer Johnnie Cochran said the famous line ‘if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’.
Public relation and the media
There was huge public interest in the case with over 90 million people estimated to have watched the car chase on television and millions watching the entire trial on TV.
Publications ran stories related to the case for weeks and television stations reported on the trial constantly, which made it the most covered story in 1995.
The trial took place in Los Angeles at a time where there was a big racial divide in the city – protests had taken place and this is thought to have had an influence on the case.
On October 3rd at 1.07pm (Eastern Time), O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the two murders. You can see the verdict being read below.
Where is O.J. Simpson now?
As described in an article on CNN, O.J. later lost a civil trial and was ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages.
Now the former NFL superstar is in prison after being convicted of kidnapping and robbery in 2007 when he stole memorabilia of his from a collector. He is eligible for parole in 2017.