The Trial of OJ Simpson & Aftermath

Ryan Heshmati

April 12, 2024

While OJ Simpson was a football star and an actor, those are certainly not the elements of his life he will be most remembered for. Having died on April 10, 2024, at the age of 76, during a fight with prostate cancer, the world has renewed interest in the former celebrity and the murders/trial that forever tarnished his reputation. 

On June 12, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and a local restaurant waiter, Ron Goldman, were brutally stabbed to death outside of Nicole Brown Simpson’s Brentwood residence. That double murder culminated in the murder trial of OJ Simpson, who was arrested shortly after returning to Los Angeles from Chicago, a destination he had left for just past midnight after the murders.

Before his arrest, however, which was planned as a negotiated surrender by attorney Robert Shapiro, Simpson fled in the infamous Bronco chase that ended at his Brentwood estate when he surrendered to police. While the Bronco chase is certainly significant, the trial was an even more electrified scene.

OJ Simpson hired what became known as the “dream team” of defense attorneys for the case. Beyond Robert Shapiro, other significant members included Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey, Barry Scheck, and Alan Dershowitz. Although Robert Kardashian also joined the team, his experience was not in criminal trials, especially those of the severity of the murders. The defense team, while attacking as much evidence as possible, received aid from the timing and location of the trial. The Los Angeles Police Department, in the wake of the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots in 1992, did not have a positive reputation. Thus, when the defense had the opportunity to call LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman on perjury for lying about past racist comments, they did so, rupturing Fuhrman’s credibility and leaving the possibility for a rogue cop willing to go to any means for a conviction open.

While the case is remembered for OJ Simpson attempting to try on the gloves alleged as part of the murder and appearing unable, serious other obstacles for the prosecution, like Fuhrman, likely proved more problematic to the prosecution in attempting to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Ultimately, in a widely watched moment, on October 3, 1995, the jury, after only several hours of deliberations, rendered a “not-guilty” verdict on both counts.

While acquitted in the criminal case, Simpson was later found civilly liable and ordered to pay a total of tens of millions of dollars to the victims’ families. While he moved to Florida to attempt to skirt that responsibility, his legal troubles did not end. In 2007, Simpson was arrested for a robbery at a Las Vegas hotel where he attempted to steal memorabilia that he claimed was, in fact, his. On October 3, 2008, he was found guilty, and the judge later sentenced him to 33 years in prison.

Released on parole in 2017, he chose to live in a gated community in the area around Las Vegas, according to Grace Macaskill of British tabloid The Sun. Despite his acquittal in the murders, he is widely perceived to have been responsible, according to Graham Lee Brewer and Aaron Morrison of The Associated Press. Simpson, through ghostwriter Pablo Fenjves, wrote a book, in part, titled “If I Did It,” the rights to which ended up in the possession of the Goldman family, who published it as “If I did It: Confessions of the Killer.” Many perceived the book, which remains notorious for its suspicious title, as a confession. Nevertheless, with OJ Simpson gone, unfortunately, a definitive answer to his guilt or innocence in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman may never come.