A Brief History
On October 3, 1995, in one of the most ridiculed jury findings in American history, a criminal jury found OJ Simpson not guilty of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
Simpson had been an American hero, born into a working family and raised in the projects of San Francisco after his parents separated in 1952. OJ developed rickets as a child, and wore leg braces until age 5. A star high school football player, Simpson first played at the Community College level before transferring to USC where he earned the Heisman Trophy as a running back in 1968 after leading the nation in rushing yards both years (1967 and 1968) that he played for USC. Fast and strong, OJ was also an accomplished track athlete, and was part of a world record 4 X 110 yd relay team in 1967. In fact, their time has never been beaten as virtually all high level track meets are now conducted in the metric system.
A record breaking professional running back, Simpson retired after gaining over 11,000 yards rushing (second to Jim Brown at the time) and becoming the first player ever to rush for over 2000 yards in one season when he ran for 2003 yards in 1973.
Simpson went on to a successful acting career, making television commercials and starring in movies. Coming across the screen as likable, Simpson was a popular celebrity. Having been married at age 19, he divorced his first wife in 1979, but had already started seeing Nicole Brown in 1977. OJ retired from football in 1980, and Brown and Simpson married in 1985, having 2 children together. The couple divorced in 1992, with Simpson pleading “no contest” to a charge of domestic violence during the marriage.
On June 12, 1994, Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman were murdered by being stabbed repeatedly and having her throat cut at Brown’s Brentwood condo. Simpson immediately became a suspect, and when he led the police on the famous low speed chase televised live in front of millions of gaping Americans, Simpson’s guilt seemed apparent, as the 50 mile pursuit ended with $8000 cash, his passport, a loaded gun, and fake beard and mustache found in the infamous white Bronco.
The highly publicized trial for the double murder included overwhelming evidence of Simpson’s guilt, including blood in the Bronco, bloody gloves (one found at Simpson’s home, one at the murder scene!) known to be worn by OJ, DNA evidence, footprints of exclusive Bruno Magli shoes known to be worn by OJ and fingerprints at the scene. OJ even had a substantial knife wound on his own hand. Witnesses said they saw OJ in the white Bronco speeding away from the murder scene and that OJ purchased the same kind of knife used in the murders. A “Dream Team” of exclusive lawyers defended OJ, trying to portray him as too frail to even commit the crimes. This farce was countered with a recently filmed exercise video showing the 46 year old OJ healthy and spry.
To the disbelief and amazement of the world, the jury found OJ Simpson not guilty of the gruesome murders, and authorities breathed a sigh of relief, anticipating race riots had the football star been convicted.
A smug Simpson did not have long to gloat, as he was found liable for the murders in a civil proceeding in which more of the evidence was permitted, drawing a ruling against OJ for $33.5 million. OJ’s public face was now smeared even more.
Simpson put a sad exclamation point on his life since the double murder in 2008 when he was convicted of a 2007 armed robbery, sentenced to 33 years in prison (eligible for parole after 9 years). The conviction came exactly 13 years after his acquittal for the murders, seen by many as poetic justice.
Question for students (and subscribers): Is OJ Simpson, former football hero and movie star, a terribly wronged victim himself, or a cold blooded killer? You decide, and let us know what you think in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Simpson, O. J. If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer. Beaufort Books, 2008.