O.j. Simpson Biography

In what can be described as an American trag - edy, O.J. Simpson's stunning fall from grace surpassed even that of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle (see entry), the silent screen comic who was acquitted after three trials of causing Virginia Rappe's death in the aftermath of a wild booze party in 1921. The public grudgingly accepted Arbuckle's exoneration and allowed him after a decade spent working under aliases to resume his career under his own name. At the time of his death from a heart attack in 1933 "Fatty" was mounting a comeback that held at least the possibility that the comic could regain some of his lost stature in the motion picture industry. Simpson, a brilliant running back who parlayed collegiate and professional football glory into a post-sports career in commercials and acting, apparently "had it all" when he was accused of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman in 1994. The "Trial of the Century" received unprecedented media coverage and Simpson's subsequent acquittal due largely to prosecutorial incompetence and a successful defense strategy focused on race and the suggestion of corrupt policing revealed a vast and ugly racial divide within the United States. O.J., though winning a questionable acquittal, found his acting career ruined and unlike Arbuckle, there would be no chance at redemption. The former football great's 2008 conviction on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping stemming from an incident in a Las Vegas hotel-casino involving the ill-conceived retrieval of allegedly stolen sports memorabilia marked a sad, albeit satisfying to many, end to a storybook American success story. The future football and media star was born Orenthal James Simpson in San Francisco on July 7, 1947, the third of four children, to James and Eunice. The obscure origin of the nickname "O.J." according to family lore was contributed by an aunt. Simpson's father, James, was an intermittent and disturbing figure in the young boy's life. O.J. was deeply embarrassed by his father's admission in later life that he was a homosexual and the man died of AIDS in 1985. Like many black families, mother Eunice was the breadwinner and worked nights as an orderly and then a technician in the psychiatric ward of San Francisco General Hospital. A member of the Persian Warriors, a street gang in his neighborhood of Potrero Hill, Simpson vandalized and shop - lifted, but was saved from the inevitable life of crime that claimed many of his friends by his outstanding athletic ability. While O.J. was still in high school, a concerned adult arranged for Willie Mays, the All-Star centerfielder for the hometown San Francisco Giants, to speak with the troubled teenager. The "Say Hey Kid" spent a day with O.J., but instead of trying to intimidate him with a hard-sell "scared straight" diatribe, the baseball legend took Simpson to his luxurious house in Forest Hill and showed him the type of life that could be achieved by excelling at sports. The visit profoundly impacted O.J. After high school, Simpson spent two years at the City College of San Francisco, a local junior college, running track and playing football. His average of ten yards a carry quickly put him on the radar of top fouryear schools and he became one of the most recruited players in the country. The University of Southern California, however, provided the pag - eantry and media exposure Simpson knew could take him to the ultimate promised land of the National Football League. As a USC Trojan, O.J. Simpson established himself as the premier running back in the vaunted football school's history. In 1967, the junior's final play touchdown run in the Rose Bowl earned the Trojans a dramatic victory over Indiana University. O.J. was named player of the game and led the Trojans to a national championship although he was denied the Heisman Trophy in a close vote to UCLA senior quarterback, Gary Beban. As a senior, Simpson won the Heisman in a landslide vote. USC accorded the running back its highest honor by retiring his jersey number, 32. In the late 1960s, however, the concept of "student athlete" did not hold the same sense of mutual responsibility between student and school as it does today. Before the National Collegiate Athletic Association began monitoring more closely the recruitment and education of its athletes it was a routine practice for top football schools to offer scholarships to individuals who were barely literate. By his own admission, Simpson considered his two-year stop at USC as merely a high media profile apprentice - ship for the NFL. To say he received virtually no education at USC may be overstated (he did attend some home economics courses), but as his later written notes to Nicole Brown Simpson and others attest he could barely write a coherent, grammatical sentence. In the 1969 NFL draft, the Buffalo Bills had the first overall pick and they selected O.J. ("Juice") Simpson. With the Bills from 1969ֱ977 the 6'1", 212 pound running back established team rushing records and spent his final season in 1978ֱ979 reunited with his hometown team the San Francisco 49ers. During his 11 seasons Simpson put up staggering numbers rushing for 11,236 yards, gaining another 2,142 yards on 203 pass receptions, while returning 33 kickoffs for 990 yards (a 30 yard average). In total, "Juice" amassed 14,368 combined net yards and scored 456 points on 76 touchdowns. In 1973 (arguably his finest year), Simpson became the first back to rush for over 2,000 yards racking up 2003 for a 14 game season. He led the league in rushing in 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1976 in addition to being named All-AFC and All-Pro five straight years from 1972 through 1976. Simpson played in six Pro Bowls earning Player of the Game in the 1973 contest. In 1985, "Number 32" was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. While starring on the gridiron, Simpson had also begun work on his post-football career by acting small roles in television programs (Dragnet 1967, 1968; It Takes a Thief, 1968; Ironside, 1968; Medical Center, 1969; Cade's County, 1972) and movies (The Klansman, 1972; The Towering Inferno, 1974; Killer Force, 1976; The Cassandra Cross ing, 1976). Handsome, likable, and affable, O.J. cultivated an approachable image that Jim Brown, the Hall of Fame Cleveland Browns running back and among the first black athletes to translate sports glory into a successful motion picture career, had never attempted. Jim Brown was viewed by white America as a dangerous and threatening revolutionary figure largely because the political and social causes he embraced were targeted at improving the lot of black people. Conversely, Simpson never had a "black agenda" once telling an interviewer, "I'm not black, I'm O.J." While Jim Brown was pictured in the media standing shoulder-to-shoulder with African- American revolutionaries, O.J. Simpson was seen in national television commercials for Hertz Rent- A-Cars running through airports and jumping over benches on his way to catch a plane or rent a vehicle. As a television personality, O.J. reached millions of people a week as a football analyst for NBC then ABC, but his post-football popularity reached its zenith as the character "Officer Nordberg," the partner and best friend of "Sgt. Frank Drebin" (Leslie Nielsen) in the lucrative Naked Gun series of comedy films (The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad, 1988; The Naked Gun 21?2, 1991; Naked Gun 331?3, 1994). On the personal front, O.J. married Marguerite Whitley, a black woman he started dating while still in high school, in 1968 shortly before the birth of their first child, Arnelle. The marriage by all accounts was a sham with Simpson carrying on an uninterrupted series of affairs even during the birth of his son, Jason. The couple was separated and O.J.'s football career was winding down when he purchased the house on 360 North Rockingham in upscale Brentwood for $650,000 on February 23, 1977. Shortly after moving into the gated and brick walled mansion situated on a desirable corner lot, Simpson, nearly 30, began dating Nicole Brown, a beautiful white 18-yearold blonde, he met while she worked briefly as a waitress. The end of the Marquerite and O.J. Simpson relationship coincided with his retirement from football in 1979, but any good memories they may have shared during their 11 year marriage were overshadowed later that year when their 23-month-old daughter, Aaren, died in a swimming-pool accident at the North Rockingham address. An emotionally broken Marguerite was awaiting word on the child's condition outside the hospital's intensive-care unit when Simpson arrived on scene screaming, "She murdered my child! She murdered my child!" According to observers, the football great had to be restrained from physically accosting his ex-wife. By the time the couple divorced in 1979, Nicole was already installed in the Rockingham house. Nicole and O.J.'s marriage in 1985 (the year of his Hall of Fame induction) was followed eight months later by the birth of their daughter, Sydney, and in 1988 a son, Justin, was added to the Simpson family. As during his marriage to Marguerite, however, O.J. continued to be a serial adulterer while expecting and demanding Nicole to observe the roles of dutifully faithful wife and devoted mother. Unknown to his legion of fans who saw only the likable public face of the former football star turned product pitchman and movie star, O.J. Simpson had a documented history of domestic violence with Nicole extending back to 1977. In the fall of 1985, Mark Fuhrman, then a young uniformed LAPD officer, answered a domestic disturbance call at the Rockingham house. Arriving, Fuhrman saw an agitated Simpson pacing up and down the driveway while Nicole sat on a Mercedes- Benz crying. Simpson, angered by something Nicole had done, had taken a baseball bat and broken out the windshield of the car. Nicole refused to press charges. On January 1, 1989, a 911 call was received at 3:58 A.M. by the LAPD placed from a phone traced to 360 North Rockingham. The sounds of a woman screaming and slaps were heard before the connection was abruptly terminated. Police quickly responded to the scene and were met at the front door by a housekeeper who assured them nothing was wrong. Insisting to speak with the woman who placed the 911 call, the officers were startled to see Nicole Brown Simpson stagger out from behind the bushes near the gate wearing only a bra and a pair of soiled sweatpants. "He's going to kill me!" screamed Nicole identifying O.J. as her assailant. The woman's lip was cut and bleeding, her left eye black-and-blue, her forehead bruised, and the imprint of a hand was still visible around her neck. Nicole related how her husband had slapped, punched, and pulled her by the hair. She agreed to sign a crime report against O.J., but told the officer in disgust, "You guys never do anything.... You come out. You've been out here eight times. And you never do anything." O.J., wearing only a bathrobe, screamed at the cop that he no longer wanted Nicole in his bed or house to which the policeman explained he was going to be placed under arrest for beating his wife. Incredulous, O.J. argued that what had occurred was a "family matter" and he had never been arrested on any of the eight previous occasions police had responded to calls at his home. Simpson went back inside to change, but instead of accompanying officers to the station, he took off in his Bentley out of another gate on the property. Police gave pursuit, but could not locate the fugitive. Nicole explained to the officers that the incident arose out of her displeasure with two women O.J. had staying with them. Earlier in the day, she discovered her husband had sex with one of the women. Although Nicole later refused to press charges, the matter was referred to prosecutors. After several adjournments and much negotiation by his attorney Howard Weitzman, Simpson agreed to plead "no contest" to a misdemeanor charge. On May 24, 1989, O.J. was given a 24-month suspended sentence, fined $470, ordered to perform 120 hours of community service, and compelled to receive counseling twice a week. Additionally, O.J. was instructed to pay "restitution" of $500 to the Sojourn Counseling Center, an abused women's shelter in Santa Monica. The couple divorced without trial on October 15, 1992 and under the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement O.J. kept the house on North Rockingham, and agreed to pay $10,000 a month in child support for Sydney and Justin, and a onetime payout of $433,750 from which Nicole was expected to purchase her own residence. She initially bought a residence at 325 Gretna Green Way, before ultimately settling in a condo at 875 South Bundy Drive in a less prestigious section of Brentwood only a five minute drive from the home she once shared with O.J. On the night of October 25, 1993, Nicole placed a frantic 131 ?2 minute 911 call from Gretna Green Way. While her children slept upstairs, the distraught woman begged police to rescue her from her infuriated ex-husband. During the entirety of the tape, Simpson (who broke the back door of the condo to gain access) could be heard screaming abuse while a terrified Nicole pleaded for police to hurry because, "He's going to beat the shit out of me." Much later in the tape the dispatcher asked Nicole if this sort of thing had happened before to which she replied, "Many times." The incident was alleg - edly precipitated by an occurrence in 1992 in which O.J. caught Nicole in a sexual encounter with another man identified as Keith Zlomsowitch. Although Simpson was currently dating model Paula Barbieri, his continued intrusion into his ex-wife's life betrayed an obsession with the woman and an unwillingness to relinquish control. More tellingly, five days before her murder Nicole contacted the Sojourn Counseling Center (the public battered women's shelter to which O.J. was ordered to donate $500 as a condition of his 1989 "no contest" plea) to report that her ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, was stalking her. On the evening of Sunday, June 12, 1994, the couple's eight-year-old daughter, Sydney, performed in a dance recital at her school attended by Nicole and her family. Simpson, who had been told earlier in the day by Barbieri that she was ending the relationship, arrived late carrying a bouquet of flowers for Sydney and was greeted by the entire Brown family except for Nicole. Simpson, no longer considered a part of his ex-wife's family, sat alone at the recital and reportedly stared angrily at Nicole. After the program, the Brown family decided to eat at the Mezzaluna, an Italian trattoria in Brentwood at 11750 San Vicente Boulevard, and as they left for the restaurant it became apparent to Simpson that he was not invited. Nicole and the children arrived back at her condo on 875 South Bundy Drive around 9:40 P.M. and moments later received a phone call from her mother, Juditha Brown, to report she had dropped her glasses on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. Nicole called the Mezzaluna and asked that her friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman, a waiter there, drop them by the house. According to later testimony, Goldman left for Nicole's around 9:50 P.M. Around 10:15 P.M. neighbors in the vicinity of Nicole's condo began to hear the uninterrupted howling of a dog. Neighbor Steven Schwab had a weekend ritual of walking his own dog right at 10:30 P.M. after the conclusion of his favorite television program. Passing the alley behind Nicole's condo on Bundy Drive around 10:55 P.M. Schwab noticed a white Akita barking at a house. Schwab, concerned the dog might be abandoned, made contact with the frightened animal. After examining the dog's expensive collar for owner information (there was none), the man noticed blood on all four of the animal's paws. Schwab returned home with the dog in tow arriving back at his residence shortly after 11:00 P.M. As the man and his wife considered what to do with the agitated Akita, Schwab's neighbor, Sukru Boztepe, and his wife, Bettina Rasmussen, arrived home around 11:40 P.M. Boztepe and his wife agreed to keep the dog overnight, but the animal was so overwrought inside their apartment that the couple decided to take the Akita for a walk. Outside, they let the dog lead the way and it dragged them back to the front gate of 875 South Bundy Drive. Boztepe looked down the darkened pathway behind the gate and saw a woman's body lying in a pool of blood. The Akita, named "Kato" by the children after their father's "gofer," Brian ("Kato") Kaelin, and later renamed "Satchmo," had been the sole witness to a double homicide destined to become one of the most sensational criminal cases in the history of American jurisprudence. LAPD patrolman Robert Riske and his partner arrived at the South Bundy address around 12:09 A.M. on Monday, June 13. Shining a flashlight down the walkway, Riske saw the body of Nicole Brown Simpson lying in a halo of blood at the base of four stairs leading up to a landing and the front door. Next to her corpse was a bloody heel print, but no shoe prints leading down the tiled walkway out the front gate on Bundy Drive. To the right of Nicole lay the body of a young man, Ron Goldman, with his shirt pulled up over his head. Goldman was slumped against the metal fence separating No. 875 from the next door property. Near the dead man's feet, police found a black knit stocking cap, a white bloodstained envelope, and a single leather glove. Riske shined his flashlight down the walkway (which extended 120' along the northern length of the property ending in a rear gate and an alley shared by other neighbors) and discovered a single set of bloody shoe prints leading away from the double homicide. To the left of the bloody shoe prints were fresh drops of blood suggesting the killer may have been bleeding from the left hand as he walked away. Officer Riske, careful not to step in any of the blood, entered the residence through the open front door. There were no signs of struggle or theft and lighted candles in the master bedroom and a bathtub filled with water suggested Nicole was preparing to bathe. Sydney and Justin were asleep in separate bedrooms blessedly unaware of the slaughter that had claimed their mother and her friend. On a front hall table, Riske noticed a letter with a return address from O.J. Simpson. A poster of the football star adorned a wall and he was featured prominently in many of the family portraits scattered throughout the home. Leery of broadcasting news of a double homicide involving a celebrity over a walkie-talkie that could be monitored by reporters listening to the police band, Riske phoned the station to report the murders. While awaiting arrival of detectives, Riske and his partner secured the crime scene with yellow tape blocking off access to South Bundy Drive and to the back alley. The children were taken to the West L.A. police station. At 2:10 A.M. the on-call homicide detective, Mark Fuhrman, a 19 year veteran, arrived at a crime scene already teeming with 16 police offi - cers. To avoid contaminating the bloody walkway, Fuhrman and other detectives walked around to the back alley entrance where another detective pointed out a blood smudge on the rear gate. Fuhrman with other detectives entered the residence through the garage and out to the front door landing where Nicole's body lay in a bloody heap at the base of the stairs. At 2:40 A.M., Fuhr - man was notified his tenure as lead detective was at an end. The case promised to be so high profile that it was being kicked to the prestigious Robbery- Homicide Division. To avoid a potential crush of unwanted publicity, those detectives would notify O.J. Simpson of the grisly death of his ex-wife Nicole. At 4:05 A.M., Philip Vannatter of Robbery-Homicide arrived at South Bundy Drive with instructions from his superiors to locate O.J. as soon as possible so as to spare him the anguish of hearing about the murder through the media. Vannatter first, however, wanted to carefully review the crime scene. While doing so, he was joined 25 minutes later by his longtime partner, Tom Lange. Vannatter decided that given the high profile of the case and the fact that Simpson's children would have to be collected from the station, he would have detectives Lange, Fuhr - man, and Ron Phillips, accompany him to Simpson's home on Rockingham Drive. Around 5:00 A.M. the four detectives made the two mile (five minute) trip from South Bundy to North Rockingham after first determining the address off a license plate on a car in Nicole's garage. Fuhrman commented that he was vaguely aware of the address from having answered a domestic disturbance call there several years before. Approaching the gated house on Rockingham surrounded by a 6' high brick wall, Vannatter noticed a white Ford Bronco by the curb. The car, situated di - rectly in front of number 360, was slightly askew at the curb suggesting it may have been hurriedly parked. A couple lights were on in the mansion, but there was no answer when Vannatter repeatedly rang the buzzer by the iron gate, although there were two cars in the driveway. A sign posted at the gate announced the home was protected by Westec, a top security firm in Los Angeles, and detectives were ready to place a call to the agency when a Westec vehicle drove by. Vannatter persuaded the guard to give them Simpson's phone number, but his repeated calls were picked up by an answering machine. While his three colleagues attempted to contact someone in the house, Mark Fuhrman went alone to investigate the Bronco. Shining his flashlight into the backseat of the vehicle, the detective saw papers addressed to O.J. and noticed a small red stain just above the door handle on the driver's side. Several more red stripes were visible near the bottom of the door. Fuhrman reported the find to Vannatter. The car's plates were run and it came back as owned by the Hertz Corporation, the company Simpson repped as a pitchman. A criminalist was called to examine the car in more detail. A decision now faced lead detective Philip Vannatter. Faced with a double homicide at Bundy Drive involving Simpson's exwife, O.J.'s lighted house at Rockingham where no one answered, and possible bloodstains on a car most likely connected to O.J., Vannatter later testified that he feared there may be other victims in the house. He made the determination to go onto the property. Fuhrman, the youngest and best conditioned of the detectives, was hoisted over the wall into the Rockingham compound and opened the gate. Vannatter knocked on the front door. There was no answer. On the rear of the property was a row of three connected guest houses each with its own entrance. Detective Phillips knocked on one of the doors and it was opened by a sleepy man with shaggy hair, Kato Kaelin, O.J.'s handyman who lived on the grounds rent-free in exchange for performing odd jobs. Kaelin did not know if O.J. was home, but suggested knocking on the door of the adjacent guest house where Simpson's daughter, Arnelle, lived. Fuhrman remained alone with Kaelin while the other three detectives went to contact the woman. Fuhrman quickly examined Kaelin's room then asked if anything out of the ordinary had occurred the previous night. Kaelin reported that around 10:45 P.M. he had heard three loud thumps on his bedroom wall near the air conditioner which he initially interpreted as the onset of an earthquake. Fuhrman led the man to the other guest house where his fellow-detectives were questioning Arnelle Simpson then left to followup on what Kaelin had reported. In a narrow passage between the back of the guest houses and a cyclone fence the detective saw a black glove on the leaf covered path. The glove, similar in appearance to the one at the crime scene on Bundy, appeared moist and sticky. Meanwhile, Arnelle had let the other detectives into the main house. Arnelle called O.J.'s secretary who informed Phillips that her employer had taken the redeye flight to Chicago the previous night and was staying at the Chicago O'Hare Plaza near the airport. Phillips called Simpson around 6:05 A.M. and notified the football star that his ex-wife had been killed. A distraught Simpson asked about his children and told the detective he would fly back to L.A. on the next available flight. Surprisingly, to the detective, O.J. never asked how or when Ni - cole had been killed, questions that are routinely asked by individuals informed of the death of someone close to them. Detectives quickly put together a preliminary theory of the case aided by Vannatter's discovery of blood drops leading from the North Rockingham gate to the front door of the residence. Vannatter applied for a search warrant after first touching base with the District Attorney's office. Marcia Clark, an assistant district attorney who had never even heard of O.J. Simpson, answered the call, took Vannatter's affidavit, and secured a warrant. Armed with the document, Vannatter entered the house on Rockingham around noon on June 13 (roughly the time O.J.'s plane touched down in Los Angeles). Unlike most police investigations, the O.J. case presented a mountain of forensic evidence. In addition to the blood drops leading to the house, Vannatter found similar blood drops behind the door in the foyer. Fuhr - man returned to Rockingham to report the right hand glove found behind the guest house was a match to the left hand glove found at the murder scene on South Bundy Drive. Forensics would later determine the glove at Rockingham contained elements of the blood of both victims. A presumptive blood test done by criminalist Den - nis Fung on the stains on the exterior of the Bronco suggested they were human blood (later determined to be a DNA match to O.J. Simpson). Likewise, blood found on the inside driver's side panel and on the vehicle's console between the two front seats was also a DNA match to Simpson with one spot showing a mixture of blood from O.J., Nicole, and Ron Goldman. Upstairs in O.J.'s room, detectives found a pair of socks later determined to contain Nicole's blood. Meanwhile, O.J. had arrived from Chicago where he had traveled the previous night to play golf that day in the Hertz Invitational in Northbrook. Simpson, enjoying a $500,000 year salary from Hertz as its corporate pitchman, played annual regional tournaments where the company's top customers could meet and shoot a round of golf with the football legend. Upon touching down in Los Angeles, O.J. immediately contacted Howard Weitzman, the criminal attorney who had gotten him off with a slap on the wrist for the New Year's Day 1989 domestic violence incident. O.J. arrived at his home on Rockingham (now surrounded by media trucks) as police were processing the residence. A patrolman led the confused ex-athlete to a secluded area of the yard and briefly cuffed him in a scene caught by an enterprising photographer. Vannatter removed the restraints when he arrived on scene, but in doing so noticed a bandage on the middle finger of Simpson's left hand (possibly the source of the blood drops to the left side of the bloody shoe prints leading away from the bodies on Bundy Drive). Simpson instantly agreed to accompany Vannatter downtown to be questioned. Remarkably, O.J. agreed not to have Howard Weitzman present during questioning a decision the attorney inexplicably signed off on. During the 32 minute taped interview Simpson was never specifically asked about his whereabouts during the interim period after the recital and his departure for the airport. This failure, as noted by Jeffrey Toobin in his definitive 1996 book on the case, The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, allowed O.J.'s defense team to variously claim that their client was sleeping, showering, or chipping golf balls on the lawn in the dark. Simpson initially explained his cut finger as occurring when he broke a glass in Chicago after being informed of Nicole's death. Later in the interview when told of the blood in his house and in the Bronco he remembered that he may have cut himself while hurriedly getting ready before the car service came to drive him to the airport. As a golfer, he added, his hands were always getting nicked up. Detectives, much too deferential to a man they now had to consider a prime suspect in a double homicide, never pressed O.J. to describe or produce the clothing he was wearing the night of the murders. As incriminating evidence against Simpson mounted (especially the damning DNA findings at South Bundy and North Rockingham), the former athlete fired Howard Weitzman who had stupidly allowed police to interview O.J. without being present to advise and shield his client. His replacement, Robert Shapiro, began his tenure as lead counsel on shaky ground by permitting O.J. to take a lie detector test which he failed miser - ably. The well-known attorney cut a deal with authorities that in the event O.J. was charged with the murders Shapiro would arrange for his client to surrender at any time the detectives specified. On Friday, June 17, 1994, an arrest warrant was issued charging O.J. with double homicide, a "special circumstance" that eliminated any possibility of bail. Shapiro agreed to produce Simpson at 11:00 A.M. at the Parker Center, but as time passed it was apparent something was wrong. Simpson had spent the night before his surrender at the Encino home of his longtime friend and attorney Robert Kardashian and was experiencing difficulty meeting the designated time. Tired of waiting, Gil Garcetti, L.A.'s District Attorney, dispatched detectives to Encino to arrest Simpson. The police arrived at the Kardashian residence around noon to discover that Simpson had fled the scene in a 1993 white Ford Bronco driven by his close friend Al Cowlings. Back at Parker Center Garcetti declared in a widely televised news conference that O.J. Simpson was officially a fugitive from justice and an all-points bulletin had been issued for Al Cowlings. Robert Shapiro, his credibility with police badly damaged by O.J.'s flight, called a press conference imploring his client to turn himself in immediately. Shapiro then introduced Robert Kardashian who read a rambling two page letter handwritten by Simpson two days earlier. In the barely literate "suicide" note, Simpson maintained his innocence, described his up-and-down relationship with Ni - cole, thanked several friends, and begged his readers to "Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person." Meanwhile, around 6:00 P.M. the white Bronco had been spotted on the I-5 freeway setting off a low speed car chase that was watched on television by an estimated 95 million television viewers, 5 million more than viewed the Super Bowl that year. As various law enforcement agencies shut down on-ramps onto the numerous roadways traveled by the Bronco, police formed an armada of escort vehicles behind the fugitives. Driver Cowlings kept in touch with a 911 operator by cell phone as O.J. crouched in the backseat with a gun pressed to his own head. As it became clear the pair was returning to O.J.'s home at 360 North Rockingham media helicopters and camera crews on the ground captured throngs of pedestrians along the route watching the bizarre chase. In what should have been a tip-off to prosecutors, streetside spectators in black areas of the city cheered O.J. as the Bronco passed. At Rocking - ham 25 SWAT specialists awaited the arrival of the fugitives while detectives kept company inside the house with Robert Kardashian and O.J.'s son, Jason. When the Bronco finally arrived Simpson stayed crouched in the backseat of the car for an hour while he spoke with a police crisis negotiator inside the house. Finally, O.J. gave up. Inside the Bronco, SWAT team members recovered a travel bag containing O.J.'s passport, a fake goatee and mustache, and a bottle of make-up adhesive remover. Simpson later claimed that he carried the fake hair so he could walk with his children at zoos and amusement parks unmolested by fans. Also found in the car was a loaded Smith & Wesson pistol purchased for Simpson by a policeman who once worked security for the sports great. At the station, Cowlings was found to be carrying $8,750 in cash. Both men stated they had just wanted to visit Nicole's grave one last time before O.J. turned himself in, but could not get near the cemetery because of the media. Once Simpson was in police custody and formally declared himself "not guilty" of the murders at his arraignment on June 24, 1994, the media circus that became the O.J. Simpson case swung into high gear. Robert Shapiro, an attorney skilled at cutting deals, had never taken a murder case to trial. Backed by his millionaire client's seemingly bottomless pockets, Shapiro began assembling what the press dubbed "The Dream Team" comprised of a battery of high price attorneys each a specialist in areas of the law deemed germane to the Simpson defense. Johnnie Cochran, an eloquent African-American attorney who made his name and considerable fortune taking on cases of LAPD corruption, had once represented Michael Jackson entry) on a child-abuse charge. Cochran's central theme in the majority of his successful defenses was unchanging-the white police establishment was corrupt and entered into conspiracies to deny rights to ethnic defendants. In racially divided Los Angeles, Cochran's assertions carried much weight. Numerous instances of insensitivity by the LAPD including their handling of the Watts riot in 1965 and several documented cases of brutality directed against blacks had understandably made the African-American community distrustful of their city's police force. The flashpoint, however, occurred on April 29, 1992, when four LAPD officers caught on videotape in 1991 viciously beating Rodney King, an unarmed black motorist, were acquitted by an allwhite jury in Simi Valley. The unpopular and unjust verdict triggered a riot in African-American sections of the city. Shapiro's friend, legal heavyweight F. Lee Bailey, was added to the team for his skill in preparation while Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld came on board as experts in DNA. Attorneys Gerald Uelman, dean of Santa Clara University law school, and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, an expert at filing legal motions who had once aided Shapiro in his defense of Christian Brando entry), rounded out the team. Shapiro was the acknowledged leader of "The Dream Team" until suggesting to his shocked colleagues that his review of the case left room for O.J. to cut a deal for manslaughter. Afterwards, Simpson chose Johnnie Cochran, the silvertongued litigator who understood black people, to replace Shapiro, the deal maker, as leader of his defense. From the outset of the proceedings, the prosecution and the defense approached the case from fundamentally different perspectives. Marcia Clark and co-counsel Christopher Darden viewed O.J.'s murder of Nicole Brown Simpson as the tragic conclusion of an ongoing drama of domes - tic violence. Ron Goldman, the Good Samaritan, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Johnnie Cochran, confronted by an avalanche of incriminating forensic evidence that on its surface strongly suggested his client was guilty, posited a vast police conspiracy having at its center Mark Fuhrman, a detective with a shaky past who (at this early date) was most likely a racist like many of his fellow-officers on the LAPD. Simpson, although he routinely invited police over to his home and never evinced much interest in black causes or in having black friends, was now presented as the victim of a police frameup because he was an African American. If a conspiracy existed then the physical evidence (the glove, the knit cap, the blood and hair) could be explained as police plants. Even if they could not, it could perhaps be demonstrated that the collection of the DNA evidence was so incompetent as to rule it unreliable and therefore useless. To determine how their respective theories of the case might play out in front of a jury, both the defense and prosecution conducted test focus groups. This procedure took on crucial importance in lieu of Gil Garcetti's decision to try the case downtown where the jury pool would contain more blacks (based on the county's African-American population) rather than in the predominantly white county of Santa Monica where the courtroom had been damaged by the Northridge earthquake. The mock juries were instructive and boded well for the prosecution. Blacks as a whole felt O.J. was innocent, while black women were three times less likely than their male counterparts to think him guilty. Conversely, black women took a strong dislike to Marcia Clark who they found overbearing and described in questionnaires as a "bitch." Nor did the black mock jurors find the prosecution's domestic violence argument to be particularly compelling. Forty percent of the black women polled accepted as "normal" the use of some type of physical force in a marriage. If O.J. did occasionally beat his wife it did not necessarily mean that he killed her. Cochran and his defense team used the data gathered from the mock juries to seat jurors sympathetic to O.J. Simpson while Marcia Clark chose to ignore the results. According to the defense's jury consultant, the perfect O.J. juror would be black, female, young, less educated, blue collar, and from a lower income group. Ultimately, the 24 member jury (12 jurors, 12 alternates) impaneled on November 3, 1994 was composed of 15 blacks, 6 whites, and 3 Hispanics. In a county where just 11 percent of the population was black, this jury would seem to have been an ideal one for the defense. Following lengthy pre-trial hearings that ruled on several issues including just how much the jury could hear regarding O.J.'s past history of domestic violence, opening arguments in the socalled "Trial of the Century" began in the Criminal Courts Building on January 24, 1995. Presiding Judge Lance Ito allowed one lone camera in the courtroom to broadcast the proceedings live to a plethora of media outlets. Court TV (followed closely by CNN) offered gavel-to-gavel coverage of the proceedings and everyone connected with the trial enjoyed at least some degree of momentary celebrity. As stated, the defense theory of the case was simple. O.J. was the classic domestic violence abuser and murdered Nicole out of an obsessive jealousy, a contention somewhat hurt by Judge Ito's exclusion as hearsay of a detailed diary kept by Nicole chronicling ex - amples of his ongoing abusive behavior which in addition to beatings included stalking and verbal humiliation. Johnnie Cochran's opening statement for the defense was more direct and played to the racial make-up of the jury. Sprinkling his oration with references to Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, Cochran presented the case as part of the continuing black struggle to realize equal rights. "This case is about a rush to judgment," Cochran maintained, "an obsession to win at any cost and by any means necessary." To do so, certain nefarious and racist elements within the LAPD engaged in a conspiracy to frame O.J. for the double murders. Unmentioned was the fact that prior to the crime O.J. had a great relation - ship with the police department as evidenced by the numerous times they had smoothed over his domestic violence beefs. O.J. threw parties for cops at the Rockingham address, let groups of them swim in his pool, and made yearly guest appearances at their Christmas parties where he happily signed footballs. Subtly expanding on his racial theme, Cochran played on a crucial bit of information revealed during the mock jury tests. Black women, as a group, held little or no sympathy for Nicole Brown Simpson, a white woman perceived as having "got" O.J., the iconic black man. Nicole, according to Cochran, had a welldocumented catalog of sexual exploits including sex on a couch with Keith Zlomsowitch while her children slept upstairs, an affair with football running back Marcus Allen, and others. More damningly, Nicole chose to number among her best friends Faye Resnick, a known drug abuser who had been forced by her husband to enter a drug rehabilitation facility. Cochran hinted that the truth behind the murders lay in the world of drugs in which Faye Resnick and by extension Nicole Brown Simpson moved. Christopher Darden, charged with developing the domestic violence thesis, opened the prosecution's case by playing the infamous 131?2 minute 911 call Nicole made to police on October 25, 1993. Denise Brown, called to provide firsthand knowledge of her younger sister's abusive relationship with O.J., so obviously despised the defendant and felt him guilty that instead of helping the defense, she alienated the jury. Moreover, Darden blundered by showing a photograph allegedly taken of Nicole's bruised face following one of the domestic violence incidents without being able to tie it to a single identifiable date involving O.J. By and large, the defense chose to ignore the domestic violence angle already having learned from mock juries that it was a non-issue with most jurors. The case was about murder, not domestic violence, and the defense chose to focus its energies on proving that not only did O.J. lack the time to commit the murders, but was a victim of a racist police force. Marcia Clark, lead counsel for the prosecution largely by virtue of the fact that circumstances within the D.A.'s office had made it politically disadvantageous for Gil Garcetti to replace her, outlined the prosecution's murder case against O.J. Simpson. Clark set the timeline for the murders at 10:15 P.M. based on the reports of the socalled "dog witnesses" at Bundy Drive. The defense, needing the murders to happen later to show O.J. did not have time to commit the acts, maintained the crimes occurred at 10:35 P.M. or thereafter. According to the prosecution's time - line, O.J. had no alibi for the time between 9:40 P.M. (when he was last seen by Kato Kaelin during their drive to McDonald's for food) and 10:55 P.M. (when Allan Park, a limo driver, saw him going into the house on Rockingham). Mark Fuhrman took the stand on March 9, 1995 and expertly testified about the events at Bundy and Rockingham. Fuhrman, however, had a dubious past that made him a tailor-made target for a racially based defense. In the endless months leading up to the trial, Cochran et al. had appeared on every available talk show, magazine, and newspaper floating the racist cop angle in the O.J. case. On July 19, 1994, Kathleen Bell wrote to Johnnie Cochran, the loudest pro.J. media voice, regarding her knowledge of Mark Fuhrman, the "good guy" cop who had discovered the bloody glove at Rockingham. According to Bell, during 1985ֱ986 she was employed as a real estate agent in Redondo Beach, California and occupied an office above a Marine recruiting station where Fuhrman sometimes visited friends. She remembered him distinctly because of his imposing height (6' 3") and muscular build. Bell informed Cochran that Fuhrman used to regale the soldiers with stories of "niggers" and how we would pull them over on some pretext if he saw them driving in cars with white women. Going further, the LAPD cop allegedly said he would like to see all "niggers" herded together in one place and bombed to extinction. Beyond Bell's claim that the officer displayed signs of hateful racism (the prosecution was already aware of her assertions) Fuhrman had a contentious history within his own department. In August 1983, he filed suit against the City of Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension Fund in an attempt to claim a stress-related disability. In his own documentation supplied to the court, Fuhrman emerged as a dangerously unbalanced man who probably should not remain a police officer. The city countered that Fuhrman was a competent officer who was involved in an elaborate ruse to win a pension. The city won the case and Fuhrman remained on the force. F. Lee Bailey, until then a minor player in the case most known for his feud with "Dream Team" colleague Robert Shapiro, cross-examined Fuhrman, but was unable to damage his testimony concerning his actions on the night of the murders. The next day, Bailey grilled the detective about his use of the word "nigger" battering the racist term into the minds of the jury by its relentless repetition. Asked by Bailey if he had used the epithet "nigger" within the last 10 years, Fuhrman unconvincingly responded that he could not recall. If there was one witness in the entire O.J. Simpson saga whose integrity was unimpeachable it was Allan Park, the limo driver. Park had not discussed the case with the media and had refused thousands of dollars from gossip rags and tell-all TV shows to spill his story. More importantly, the limo driver had cell phone records to back up his testimony. Park was scheduled to pick up O.J. at his Rockingham address at 10:45 P.M. to take him to the airport for the football star's 11:45 P.M. flight to Chicago, but arrived twenty minutes early to be certain of making the trip on time. At 10:25 P.M. when Park arrived outside the locked gate the white Bronco was not there. He rang the bell at the gate at 10:40 P.M. and receiving no answer drove to another gate to repeat the process. Still, no Bronco was in evidence. Beginning to panic, Park placed calls on the limo's cell phone to his boss and even his mother. The Simpson house was dark except for a single light upstairs. At 10:52 P.M. Park's employer called back and as they were trying to figure out what to do the driver noticed a couple of minutes later some movement up near the house. Kaelin emerged from the shadows near the back of the house. Then, a person Park described as a 6' tall, 200 pound black individual walked into the front door of the house from the outside. Park buzzed the residence again and the downstairs lights came on. O.J. answered the intercom, opened the gate, and told the relieved driver that he overslept and had just got out of the shower. Simpson would later embellish his story by adding that he was also outside during this time chipping golf balls in the dark. During the next five minutes Simpson collected a few bags which Park and Kaelin loaded into the limousine. O.J. insisted that only he touch a small black duffel bag. The prosecution later maintained this bag contained the clothes Simpson wore during the murders. Shortly after 11:00 P.M., Park drove the car out of the North Rockingham gate now noticing the white Bronco parked at the curb. At the airport, skycap James Williams checked in Simpson's bag and testified Simpson stood next to a big trash can on the sidewalk near the parked limo. The black duffel bag mysteriously disappeared and did not make the trip to Chicago. Johnnie Cochran was unable to shake Park's testimony. More compelling, however, than Park's unimpeachable testimony which in essence fit the prosecution's timeline by establishing that O.J. was not at home when he claimed to be, was the unbroken mountain of DNA evidence leading from the murder scene on South Bundy to his upstairs bedroom at Rockingham. The blood drops to the left of the bloody footprints leading down the walkway at South Bundy to the back gate matched O.J.'s DNA. The knitted sock hat found at Bundy contained hairs consistent with Simpson's as did a hair found on Ron Goldman's shirt. The bloody smudge discovered on the back gate at Bundy was a DNA match to Simpson. Statistically, there was only a 1 in 170 billion probability that the blood belonged to anyone but O.J. At the time, there were only five billion people on Earth. Simpson had a cut on the middle finger of his left hand which he was unable to convincingly explain. In addition to the evidence of the bloody gloves and blood drops at Rockingham were the 20 bloodstains found on Simpson's socks which had DNA characteristics matched by only 1 person in 6.8 billion. Defense lawyers Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, blood experts whose pioneering work with the Innocence Project had used DNA to free many innocent prisoners on Death Row, faced the daunting task of arguing away an overwhelming amount of evidence that led inexorably to an inescapable conclusion-O.J. Simpson was a murderer. Scheck built upon the foundation of police corruption and conspiracy established by Cochran adding the element of incompetence to the mix. Not only were the police racist and involved in a massive conspiracy against O.J. the evidence technicians on the force were also incompetent. Unable to argue away the science of DNA that statistically made it astronomically improbable that anyone but Simpson committed the murders, Scheck attacked the evidence from the standpoint of its collection based on a simple theorem- garbage in, garbage out. Criminalist Dennis Fung aided by Andrea Mazzola had collected evidence from both Bundy and Rockingham on the morning after the murders. The Simpson case was only the third crime scene Mazzola had ever processed. In earlier statements, Fung maintained he had collected the bulk of the forensic evidence, but under Scheck's intense questioning was forced to admit that the inexperienced Mazzola had processed much of the scenes. Moreover, Fung's collection techniques were sloppy and did not adhere to departmental procedures. In many instances, the criminalist had failed to use gloves during collection leaving open the possibility of evidence contamination. Scheck pointed out inconsistencies in Fung's work noting he had not collected the blood on the back gate at South Bundy until nearly three weeks after the murders. While the DNA collected on the walkway at Bundy on the day following the murders had degraded the blood on the back gate collected later had not and appeared to contain preservatives. This contention dovetailed with Cochran's earlier assertions that the police (most notably Mark Fuhrman) had planted the blood on the gate, in the Bronco, and on O.J.'s socks. Fung had further erred in leaving collected blood evidence in the back of his un-air-conditioned car for hours allowing the DNA to degrade in the heat. Scheck's nine-day grilling of Fung was so devastating that O.J. shook the criminalist's hand as he left the stand. Although more conclusive DNA evidence had been presented in the Simpson case than in any other trial in American history ultimately the overwhelming statistical probabilities pointing to O.J.'s guilt were neutralized by Fung's shaky testimony. Based on Fung's courtroom performance, it was also beyond the bounds of belief that someone so inept could ever be an important cog in a vast police conspiracy. Against the backdrop of Scheck and Neufeld's masterful neutralizing of the damaging DNA evidence based on the perceived incompetence of its collection, the prosecution presented what it had to believe were two pieces of slam-dunk evidence, the gloves and shoes tying O.J. to the murders. The gloves (the left retrieved at Bundy and its right hand mate found at Rockingham) were a rare type made by Aris. Using credit card receipts, police determined Nicole had purchased two pairs of the extra large size gloves at Bloomingdale's in New York City on December 18, 1990. Only 200 pairs of the Aris Light model had been sold and numerous photographs and videos revealed Simpson wearing identical gloves. Richard Rubin, general manager of the Aris Isotoner business in the early 1990s, was brought in by the prosecution as an expert witness to present background on the gloves. Remarkably, Christopher Darden never spoke with Rubin prior to putting him on the witness stand. This particular model of leather glove was designed to fit tight like a racing glove and stretched to fit the hand when worn. Since their recovery at the crime scenes, the blood soaked gloves had undergone numerous DNA tests and had swatches removed for testing. Mar - cia Clark specifically instructed Darden not to risk a demonstration of the gloves in open court especially as Simpson would have to wear latex gloves under the evidence gloves that would inhibit a comfortable fit. Darden, however, goaded by a jibe from F. Lee Bailey, unexpectedly decided without consulting his team to have O.J. try on the gloves in front of the jury. In what many courtroom observers would later claim was his most convincing performance since his turn in the Naked Gun movies, Simpson theatrically struggled to pull the leather gloves over the latex gloves he was wearing for the experiment. Dar den's disastrous decision gave Johnnie Cochran his most famous soundbite, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." The prosecution next turned to the bloody shoe prints leading away from the bodies on Bundy Drive. An FBI forensics expert identified the prints as having been made by a pair of Bruno Magli, a rare and expensive Italian shoe sold in only forty locations across the United States including Bloomingdale's where Simpson regularly shopped. Impressions found on Nicole's back matched O.J.'s size 12 shoe prints and suggested how she may have been killed. The killer planted his foot on the unconscious woman's back, grabbed her hair in his left hand, and cut her throat with the knife in his right hand. Defense attorneys argued that O.J. did not own a pair of Bruno Magli shoes and claimed that the photo submitted by the defense clearly showing him wearing a pair had been doctored. The defense's implication that a second killer was at the scene based on their interpretation of the shoe evidence was quickly discredited. On July 6, 1995, following 92 days of testimony, 58 witnesses, 488 exhibits, and over 34,500 pages of transcript, the prosecution rested its case against Orenthal James Simpson. In his defense of Simpson, Cochran continued to hammer away at the familiar themes of police racism and conspiracy while attacking the blood evidence as either incompetently collected or planted. Robert Huizenga, a Beverly Hills internist, testified that the cumulative injuries sustained by O.J. during his years of playing football made it physically impossible for him to commit the murders. The doctor's credibility was somewhat damaged when the prosecution produced video clips of Simpson hawking an arthritis relief product called Juice Plus and bragging that the product gave him an extra ten yards on his golf drives. Similarly, raw film footage taken from the former football star's soon-to-be released exercise video, O.J. Simpson Minimum Maintenance for Men, showed an apparently healthy O.J. working out. The footage was shot just two weeks prior to the murders and seemingly disproved the defense's claim that Simpson did not possess a physical range of motion sufficient to have committed the murders. On July 7, 1995, "The Dream Team" received a call from Laura Hart McKinny that proved to be the proverbial "gift from God." McKinny was an aspiring screenwriter working on a film script about female police officers at the time she met Officer Mark Fuhrman in February 1985. During twelve hours of taped interviews conducted by the screenwriter, Fuhrman related harrowing tales of his involvement in the beating of suspects and betrayed a marked dislike for blacks as evidenced by his repeated use of the word "nigger" on the tapes. Cochran subpoenaed the tapes and following legal maneuvering in and out of the courtroom (the attorney managed to leak the tapes to the media) Judge Ito ruled the jury could hear the testimony of Laura Hart McKinny and excerpts from the tapes. On the stand, McKinny testified that during their taped interviews Fuhrman had used the "N" word 41 times, a claim corroborated for the jury by Fuhr - man's own voice on the tape. His previous testimony denying the use of the "N" word for the last decade now totally discredited, Fuhrman under defense questioning was reduced to invoking the Fifth Amendment privilege against selfincrimination. If Fuhrman had lied about being a racist cop by extension could he be trusted not to have planted evidence incriminating a black suspect? Marcia Clark in her summation was forced to admit that while Fuhrman was clearly a bad racist cop it did not necessarily follow that the prosecution had failed to prove Simpson guilty of murder. Darden concluded by providing the jury with a chronological listing of O.J.'s history of domestic violence painting the former football star and actor as a "burning fuse" whose final act of jealousy and control was the murder of his wife and her friend who just unfortunately happened upon the scene. Cochran, in his summation, downplayed the domestic violence angle and while admitting that O.J. was not perfect, his treatment of Nicole did not add up to murder. The case was after all not about O.J., but rather the racist LAPD and Mark Fuhrman as its poster boy. The incriminating blood containing the statistically damning DNA was planted by Fuhrman who Cochran in a moment of unrestrained ora - tory likened to Adolf Hitler. Even if it were not, the LAPD's collection of the blood evidence was so slipshod and incompetent that all incriminating results suggested by it had to be summarily dismissed. Finally, Cochran argued, the glove just did not fit. On Friday, September 29, 1995, a jury that had been sequestered like prisoners in a hotel under the watchful eyes of sheriff 's deputies for the duration of the nearly nine month trial was finally given the case. The jury, now composed of nine blacks, one Hispanic, and two whites (both women), cast an initial vote that broke along the lines of race for an acquittal with only the two white women casting guilty votes. The jury asked to see the transcript of Allan Park's testimony the morally unimpeachable limo driver whose courtroom appearance was seemingly so damning to Simpson's case. After deliberating for a total of four hours following nine months of grueling testimony highlighted by complex scientific evi - dence, the jury notified Judge Ito that it had reached a verdict. The verdict would be announced after various attorneys in the case could be reassembled. That night, a juror leaked the "not guilty" decision to a deputy guarding them who in turn told a sheriff 's deputy at the L.A. County Jail. The deputy informed Simpson that he would soon be a free man. An estimated television audience of 95 million viewers tuned in on October 3, 1995 as the verdict was read acquitting O.J. Simpson of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman. Reaction to the decision depended largely upon one's race with a large percentage of the African-American population thrilled that O.J. had beaten the rap while stunned whites reacted with a mixture of disbelief and disgust. Clearly, the predominantly black jury had accepted the defense's contention that the LAPD was a racist organization fully willing to frame a black man. Neither did the domestic violence argument resonate with the jury who found it to be irrelevant. The lone African-American male juror raised his fist in a black power salute as he left the jury box. One juror, a 72-year-old black woman when asked about the overwhelming scientific evidence presented in the case, said, "I didn't understand the DNA stuff at all. To me, it was just a waste of time. It was way out there and carried absolutely no weight with me." Robert Shapiro, the original architect of "The Dream Team" and an attorney whose presence in the spotlight had waned as Johnnie Cochran's had waxed, acknowledged in an interview with Barbara Walters that the defense team had played the "race card" (and) "dealt it from the bottom of the deck." Simpson beat the murder rap, but now found himself a pariah in the predominantly white world he had always chosen to inhabit. Gone were offers of movie roles, the Hertz contract, or any chance of attracting new commercial endorsers. Also, he still had to face a proceeding in civil court stemming from the murders of which he had been acquitted. Both the Brown and Goldman families were devastated by the acquittal and in September 1996 united in the so-called "Sequel of the Century," a "wrongful death" suit against Simpson in which the burden of proof was much less great than in the criminal trial. In order to find O.J. liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman and assign financial damages only 9 out of 12 jurors needed to be convinced that a preponderance of evidence (50.1 percent) pointed to him as their killer. In this trial, the jury was taken from the West side of Los Angeles and included jurors drawn from the higher income areas of Brentwood and Santa Monica. Unlike media friendly Judge Lance Ito, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki banned cameras from the courtroom and imposed a strict gag order. Nor would the proceedings be bogged down by endless motions like those filed by "Dream Team" member Alan Dershowitz in the first trial. Judge Fujisaki refused to read any motion over five pages long. A controversial new law in California permitting statements of crime victims as admissible opened the door for Nicole's diary containing instances of O.J.'s abuse to be introduced into the court record. Predictably, O.J.'s attorney Robert C. Baker portrayed Nicole as a heavy drinking drug abusing party animal who enjoyed many lovers and once had an abortion. Following the divorce, Nicole continued to cling to her ex-husband who, rather than being a jealous obsessive, was in reality her confidant and supporter as she sought to begin a life without him. In the civil trial, Simpson was compelled to take the stand and under relentless questioning by Goldman family attorney Daniel Petrocelli offered up a testimony rife with inconsistencies, memory lapses (he could not recall taking a polygraph test), and statements directly contradicted by numerous witnesses, Nicole's diary, and the official police account. Petrocelli forcefully observed that in order for O.J. Simpson's account of his non-involvement in the murders to be truthful everyone else except him would have to be lying. In February 1997, Simpson was found guilty of causing the deaths of Nicole and Goldman by a unanimous jury vote and ordered to pay a total of $33.5 million to various parties in the suit. Over the years, Simpson has paid only a pittance of the settlement due, in small part, to their being listed tenth on a list of creditors behind lawyers and mortgage companies. In any event, "Juice" moved to Florida in order to take advantage of a state law allowing him to earn a set amount of money that could not be touched by creditors including his $25,000 a month pension from the NFL along with money earned by signing autographs. The man depicted by attorneys in his criminal trial as too arthritic to commit the murders played golf six days a week in the "Sunshine State." Simpson stayed out of the public eye except for the occasional lover's quarrel and an acquittal in 2001 on a charge of assault and battery stemming from a road rage incident in Florida until early 2007 when it was reported that he had signed an $880,000 deal with HarperCollins/ReganBooks to write If I Did It in which he offered a fictional tell-all account of how he might have committed the murders. Furor over the tastelessness of the "quasi-confession" forced cancellation of the deal, but the book was published in 2007 by Beaufort Books after financial considerations were made to the family of Ronald Goldman. Later that year in what some might call a case of divine justice, Simpson, 60, was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada for his role in an armed robbery of sports memorabilia from a $35-a-night room in the Palace Station Hotel-Casino. On September 13, 2007, Simpson and five other men (two armed with guns) burst into the room of Alfred Beardsley, a sports memorabilia dealer from Glendale, California, and left with armfuls of football-related material including his own Hall of Fame certificate, photos and books signed by the sports star, lithographs of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, and Beardsley's cell phone. Simpson had come to Las Vegas on a tip supplied by Tom Riccio, an auction house owner, that memorabilia allegedly stolen from the football star was in Beardsley's possession. Riccio, who arranged the confrontation, was carrying a tape recorder when the group invaded Beardsley's room and the incriminating dialogue captured on the tape did not help Simpson at his trial in Las Vegas in October 2008. Simpson maintained he was only attempt - ing to retrieve articles stolen from him, but this contention was undercut by four of his cronies in the raid who cut plea deals with the prosecution in exchange for their testimony. One of the gunmen testified O.J. not only knew weapons would be involved in the raid, but asked him to bring a gun. On October 3, 2008, 13 years after his controversial acquittal, Simpson was convicted by an all-white jury on 12 felony counts, including armed robbery and kidnapping, along with codefendant, Clarence Stewart. O.J. was later sentenced to a minimum of nine years in state prison and a maximum of 33 years, a generous sentence when the Parole and Probation Division had recommended an 18-year minimum. Clarence Stewart was given a minimum 71?2 year sentence. Addressing the court, a humbled O.J. Simpson apologized, but continued to insist that he did not think at the time he had done anything illegal. Many have interpreted the guilty verdict in Nevada as long-delayed "payback" for the football star's acquittal in the double homicide in Brentwood in 1994. While pleased with Simpson's conviction, Fred Goldman, Ron's long-suffering father, told reporters on the courthouse steps, "There's never closure; Ron is always gone. What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs, behind bars." As of 2009, Simpson is incarcerated at the Lovelock Correctional Center, a facility housing just under 1,500 inmates in two-bed cells, about 90 miles northeast of Reno. O.J.'s attorney vowed an appeal based largely on the racial argument that the jury pool was manipulated by the district attorney to produce a panel with no African-Americans. In October 2010 the Nevada Supreme Court rejected O.J.'s appeal.

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