The “Trial of the Century” came to an unforgettable end back in 1995 with O.J. “Juice” Simpson being acquitted for the brutal murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The spectacle had been nothing short of a media frenzy that caused a national and international obsession. The tabloids were plastered with the story, and even legitimate papers coated their front pages with headlines of the details that unfolded. The whole mania was fueled by the pro-athlete defendant, race, celebrity involvement, and the heinous and atrocious crime at its center. The televised courtroom drama was one for the ages, and all the commotion served as one of the most unpalatable precursors to the reality television phenomenon that followed.
With the release of American Crime Story and colossal documentary, O. J: Made In America taking the Academy Award for the Best Documentary Picture, old feelings are being stirred up and new generations are taking sides as they are exposed to the 20-year-old case.This article looks at some of the most interesting facts of the O. J. saga.
15. The Bronco Chase
There is no image more iconic of the O.J. Simpson trial than the white Bronco car chase. After agreeing to surrender himself to police for the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, O. J. had a change of heart and attempted to flee. Police used cell phone data to track him to a highway south of Los Angeles and began the pursuit. Driving the Bronco was Simpson’s friend Al Cowlings, who led police on a low-speed chase as fans of the retired NFL player lined the streets with signs of support. According to CBS news, O.J. was armed and threatening self-harm. Police radioed, “The subject is in the back of the Bronco, and he is armed with a handgun that he is holding to the back of his head now.”
So, if attempting to run away threatening suicide doesn’t make you look guilty, maybe a bag of passports, $8,000 cash, and disguises does?The New York Times reported that once O.J. was in custody, a fake beard and a mustache was retrieved from the Bronco. The disguises were shown to have been ordered from Cinema Secrets a few weeks before the murders. And what was O. J’s defense for having such theatrical items? Well, according to O. J’s defense lawyers, he was planning a trip to Disneyland with his children and wanted to avoid being recognized…
14. The Suicide Letter
While the whole drama of the police pursuit of the white Bronco was unfolding, media outlets were going crazy over the press conference called by O.J’s defense attorney, Robert Shapiro. Shapiro begged his client to surrender before Robert Kardashian, a friend of O.J’s, read one of 3 letters that had been discovered—one to the public, one to his mother, and one to his family.
The letter was extremely cryptic and ended, “Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person.Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours.”
The letter was believed by most to be a suicide note, and O.J.’s mother, Eunice, collapsed after Robert Kardashian finished reading it. The was later dismissed by Simpson and his defense team as simply a personal reflection. More recent evidence has emerged that suggests Robert Kardashian edited the letter himself since O.J. was “barely literate”. Author Jeffry Toobin sat down with Dr. Phil to discuss his theory of the suicide letter, “What most people didn’t know is that [Kardashian] was editing as he went along, that O.J. Simpson was, in fact, barely literate. They created an O.J. Simpson who didn’t really exist in real life.”
13. Fear Of National Rioting Over The Verdict
The nation was completely divided over the verdict in the O.J. case, so much so, that the reading of the verdict is considered to be the third most “universally impactful” televised moment of the past five decades, behind Hurricane Katrina and the September 11th attacks. The public was so divided that a nationwide poll conducted at the time indicated that 62% of white Americans thought O.J. was guilty while 68% of African Americans thought he was innocent.
President Bill Clinton was so concerned about the reading of the verdict and the potential for riots if racial groups were not appeased. Years later when asked about the verdict and the tensions that surrounded it, Clinton said, “In terms of the way Americans see the world differently, generally, based on their race, that troubles me. I think the only answer to that is for us to spend more time listening to each other and try to put ourselves in each other’s shoes and understand why we see the world in different ways and keep trying to overcome that.”
There’s also proof that Clinton’s words have had a profound impact on the case. In 2005, follow-up news polls showed 80% of white Americans believed O.J. was guilty while 70% of African Americans still believed in his innocence. Now over 20 years later, a third poll conducted revealed 53% of African Americans believe O.J. to be innocent while 90% of white Americans believe he is guilty.
12. The Trial Gave The World The Kardashians
What was the world like before the Kardashians? Barely anyone can remember but it certainly sounds utopian! And to think that this family earned its spot in the limelight because of a disturbingly violent crime and their relationship with the accused is all the more sickening.
The matriarch of the Kardashian franchise, Kris’s ex-husband, Robert Kardashian, served on the defense team of his BFF, O.J. Simpson. This placed the family at the forefront of “the trial of the century”. The public interest in the trial is credited for giving us the 24-hour news cycle with more than 100 million people tuning into the coverage.
O.J. Simpson had been the best man at Robert Kardashian’s wedding to Kris, and even though the pair was divorced at the time of the trial, Kris’s close friendship with Nicole led her to be mixed up in the media storm. Recent accounts of the events portrayed in the series The People V. O.J. Simpson have Simpson threatening suicide right in Kim Kardashian’s bedroom. Khloe Kardashian clarified to James Corden on The Late Late Show that “not all of the facts are accurate”. She went on to say, “Like, when O.J. was contemplating suicide, it was in my room and not Kim’s room.” Glad we got that straightened out.
The hype and interest surrounding the key players of the case led to a continued public demand for the reality-style drama that played out before their eyes throughout the length of the trial. It was the moment reality television gripped society enough to spawn a genre. The Daily Beast writes, “These reigning reality TV queens were closely connected to the very event that may have spawned the genre they now rule, and they were just little girls when it happened.”
11. A Serial Killer Confessed To The Murders
A month after O. J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, serial killer Glen Rogers was arrested for the murders of five women in several states including Florida and California. At the time of his arrest, Rogers claimed to have killed at least 70 women. He was found guilty of the murders and was sentenced to death. While serving his time on death row, Rogers confessed to fellow inmates and family members that he killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman while O. J. waited nearby. The story was picked up and presented by a documentary team with Investigative Discovery.
“I’m absolutely certain that my brother Glen killed Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman,” said Clay Rogers, who narrated the film My Brother The Serial Killer. I know my brother did it because I’ve seen proof that he was there.”
The Goldman family on the other hand, publicly criticized and spoke out against the documentary.
“I am appalled at the level of irresponsibility demonstrated by the network and the producers of this so-called documentary,” Kim Goldman told CNN. “I’m disappointed at the way this story was handled. Is this a confession?”
Additionally, the LAPD do not feel Rogers was involved in the murders in any way. Commander Andrew Smith commented, “The LAPD is quite confident that we know who killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. We have no reason to believe that Mr. Rogers was involved.”
10. Good for Business
The nation was so gripped by the Bronco car chase that they couldn’t tear themselves away from the television set long enough to make themselves dinner. On the night of the pursuit, Domino’s reported record delivery sales. The O.J. Simpson car chase was such a phenomenon, it is considered the 6th most memorable moment in the last 50 years, coming in behind the death of Osama Bin Laden!
And while Domino’s and the television networks were busy raking in the cash, others were singing a different tune. O.J. had worked as the spokesman for Hertz for a decade before allegations of domestic abuse were laid against Simpson. “There was still some concern and we watched it carefully … but after the press didn’t make a big deal about it, and the slap-on-the-hand outcome … we elected to keep going with O.J,” recalled Brian Kennedy, Hertz’s executive vice president of marketing and sales. The brand soon had to put the breaks on their relationship with Simpson once the murder charges took hold.
Simpson also saw the potential to make a buck or two off his trial days.After the acquittal, O.J. wanted his first interview to be on pay-per-view. Luckily, no one would sponsor the “event” and O.J. had to cave and interview with NBC for free.
9. The Shoe Print
Back in 1995, an expert with the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified that the shoe prints found at the crime scene were size 12—the same size worn by the accused, O. J. Simpson. The expert, William J. Bodziak, an authority on shoe prints and tire treads, explained how he was able to identify the make of the shoes as Bruno Magli, and went on to say that the style was only distributed in 1991 and 1992 and that only 299 pairs of size 12 were ever distributed in the United States. Bodziak concluded that it was reasonable to say that O. J. may have worn these shoes.
In response to the allegation, Simpson stated, “I know that Bruno Magli makes shoes that look like the shoes they had in court that’s involved with this case, I would have never worn those ugly-ass shoes.”
Except, Simpson was photographed wearing Bruno Magli shoes nine months before the murders in a picture first published by The National Enquirer. When confronted with this image, Simpson had no choice but to concede it was him in the picture. He did, however, deny ever wearing the shoes…
8. The Glove
One of the most explosive pieces of evidence was the bloody glove! In one of the most famous or infamous quotes in courtroom drama Johnnie Cochran pronounced, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” When O.J. tried to fit the glove over his massive paw, it didn’t fit, and the visual spectacle was hugely influential over the jury’s decision. Needless to say, media speculation has gone nuts over just why that key piece of evidence didn’t seem to belong to “Juice.” In part four of the documentary O. J.: Made in America, Simpson’s former sports agent, Mike Gilbert, proposes that O.J. had stopped taking his arthritis medication and this was the reason his swollen fingers couldn’t fit in the glove. The prosecution for the case had previously argued that the gloves didn’t fit because they had shrunk from the amount of blood on them and that O. J. had worn rubber gloves underneath. The arthritis medication theory may have been more easily believed, but there was other evidence linking the former sports star to the gloves in the first place.
According to a list of evidence published by USA Today in 1996, the glove was a “dark, cashmere-lined Aris Light leather glove, size extra large.” The documentary series American Crime Story reveals that Nicole Brown Simpson had actually purchased this exact type of glove for Simpson in 1990. CNN also reported on the extreme likelihood that the pair Brown Simpson purchased were the same as the ones used in the crime and found at the scene.
7. F. Lee Bailey Represented The Fugitive & The Boston Strangler
Some of the most damaging testimony during the entire trial came from F. Lee Bailey’s cross-examination of detective Mark Fuhrman. During Bailey’s questioning, it was revealed that Furhman had called African Americans “n****s”, losing him any credibility with the jurors. He also worked to raise questions around whether or not Bailey had planted evidence during his investigation. When questioned about it, Fuhrman invoked his Fifth Amendment right and declined to answer.
Bailey had already established himself as a lawyer to some heinous criminals. He represented Albert DeSalvo, who confessed to being the Boston Strangler.
And if you have ever seen the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford, you may be familiar with the story of Sam Sheppard. Sheppard was in prison for murdering his wife, and Bailey was the lawyer who scored him a retrial and an eventual not guilty verdict.
6. O.J. Talked To Nicole’s Body At The Funeral
Nicole Brown Simpson was almost decapitated, but despite this, she had an open casket at her funeral. According to eye-witnesses, O.J. approached the casket, kissed Nicole on the lips and whispered, what many interpreted as an apology. O.J. reportedly stood at the casket for 15 minutes talking to her body.The witnesses took this as a sure sign of Simpson’s guilt, but others believed that it was a tender moment of a man saying goodbye to someone he loved.
O.J. attended the funeral with his two children, who had been sleeping at Nicole’s house the night of the murder. Sydney and Justin were asleep upstairs when their mother had gone outside to open the gate for her friend, Ron Goldman. It was then that the two were savagely attacked and slaughtered with a knife.
5. O.J. Had Specialized Training With A Knife
Prior to the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, O.J. was training for a pilot called The Frogmen. His character on the show was to be a leader of a group of Navy Seals. The role required him to take advanced knife training—the same weapon used in the murder. The pilot was filmed and the prosecution entered the show into evidence, but during the trial, the footage was never shown to the jury.
The jury did have reason to believe O.J. was a violent man, however. Members were shown pictures from Nicole’s journals that documented the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. The New York Times reported that on January 1, 1989, Simpson beat Nicole so badly that she required hospitalization. Police records indicate that Nicole screamed, “He’s going to kill me!” when they arrived on the scene. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Simpson responded to officers on the scene by stating, “The police have been out here eight times before, and now you’re going to arrest me for this? This is a family matter. Why do you want to make a big deal out of it when we can handle it?”
4. The Book Deal
One of the most disturbing aspects of the whole O.J. saga is the book deal that he negotiated for $600,000! Now get this—the book is not about the tribulations he faced battling for his life in court and trying to re-establish his public image—no! Instead, the book is about how he would have committed the murders had he actually committed them! Say what? The only thing that could make matters worse would be if someone else was also profiting off this thing…oh wait…they were. A ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves, who happened to be O.J.’s neighbor, wrote this ghastly tale If I Did It. The public was outraged and the book was seen as a true confession of the killer.
While O.J. was acquitted of the murders, he was found guilty in the civil courts and was ordered to pay families of the victims $25 million in punitive damages.In 2007, a bankruptcy court awarded the rights to the book to the Goldman family to help fulfill the obligation of the civil judgment.
3. A Cop Kept The Knife That Was Found
In 2016, it was revealed that a knife that had been found on the Simpson property and handed over to police by a construction worker, had been kept by the officer as a souvenir. The knife’s existence came to light when the office, now retired, called up a friend at the LAPD to get the case number so that he could get it engraved on the frame he was purchasing for the O.J. knife. The retired officer claimed that when he first received the knife he called the LAPD but was told the case was closed. Obviously, as an unsolved crime, the case remains open and the failure of the police to collect the possible evidence was negligent. The knife has since been tested and has been shown to have not been used in the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Even if it was, O.J. Simpson could not have been retried for the crime due to California’s double-jeopardy laws. But the question of procedure and the police ignoring evidence continues to hang over the case.
2. The Dog
Much has been said about the poor dog that was present at the scene of the murder, an Akita named Kato. When police arrived on the scene, the dog’s face and body were covered in the blood of his owner. Now the reason why any of this is noteworthy beyond the tragic scene it helps to paint is that the time of the murder was determined with the help of the dog’s barking. The neighbors reported hearing the barking between 10:15 and 11:00 pm. Another neighbor, Steven Schwab, reported that while he was walking his dog around 10:55, he saw Kato with bloody paws, placing the time of the murder prior to 11 pm. Sukru Boztepe, another neighbor, followed the dog to Nicole’s home and discovered the bodies of Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The prosecution used the evidence collected around the dog to show that O. J. Simpson could have been able to commit the murders and still get into a limousine headed for the airport a little after 11 pm.
1. O. J.’s Blood Was Found On The Scene
DNA evidence was considered “new science” at the time and many people just simply didn’t understand it. But as it turned out, Simpson’s blood and other biological evidence were found in multiple locations at the crime scene. Prosecutor Marcia Clark revealed that a drop of blood, collected from an area nearby the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman has been linked to O.J. Simpson through RFLP testing. RFLP is the highest level of DNA examination. Additionally, a lower form of DNA testing, Polymerase chain reaction tests, also linked the athlete to the crime.
A hat left at the scene contained hair similar to Simpson’s and fibers similar to those of his car.
The DNA test conducted on the bloody glove found on O. J.’s property matched Simpson, his wife, and Goldman, and a pair of bloody socks from Simpson’s bedroom matched both him and Nicole. While all of this evidence seems to overwhelmingly point to O. J., back in the day, the concept of DNA was so new and was presented in such a technical manner that was difficult for the jury to follow. The defense was able to raise enough doubt at possible contamination that the jury could not convict Simpson with absolute certainty. Many have stated that if CSI had been a popular series at the time, O. J. most certainly would have been convicted.