What happened during OJ Simpson’s double-murder trial?

Key details from the ‘trial of century’ and how it played out

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O.J. Simpson played 11 seasons in the NFL, securing four rushing titles and becoming known as one of the greatest running backs in the sport. But his legacy will forever be defined as the primary suspect in the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ron Goldman.

Here are some details from the 1995 criminal trial, sometimes called the ‘trial of century,’ and how it played out.

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Relationship and marriage

An 18-year-old Brown was working as a waitress when she met Simpson in 1977. They began dating while Simpson was still married to his first wife, Marguerite.

Simpson got a divorce in 1979 and married Brown in 1985, and couple had two children together.

Brown called the police at least eight times during their marriage to report physical abuse.

In 1989, Brown called the police saying Simpson was going to kill her. He was arrested for the incident and later pleaded no contest to spousal abuse.

The couple divorced in 1992 after being married for seven years. At the time of her slaying, the two had been trying to reconcile, according to some reports.

An unnamed family friend told AP at the time the attempt to patch this up was ultimately unsuccessful, after which Simpson became vindictive.

“He was telling her girlfriends and her that if he ever caught her with anyone he would kill her,” the friend said. “She totally broke it off with him three weeks ago.”

Death of Nicole and Goldman

Brown and her family went for a dinner at the restaurant Mezzaluna after attending a school music recital on June 12. Simpson had also attended the recital but did not go to the dinner.

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Brown left her glasses at the restaurant, which Goldman, who was a waiter there and had known her, brought to her house that night.

Shortly after midnight, a passersby found the bodies of Nicole and Goldman in a pool of blood outside of Brown’s condominium in Brentwood, a neighbourhood in West L.A.

Brown, 35, suffered stab wounds to her scalp and was nearly decapitated, while Goldman, who was 25, was stabbed 22 times. The knife was never found.

Simpson was first treated as a witness but soon became the primary suspect for the murders.

Simpson’s arrest

Five days after the murders, when Simpson was expected to turn himself to police, he had failed to show up. A manhunt ensued.

Later that day, he was pursued in a white Ford Bronco driven by his friend Al Cowlings. Simpson reportedly sat in the back of the vehicle with a gun to his head.

About 95 million people tuned in to watch live television coverage of the chase, which showed more than a dozen L.A.P.D. vehicles tailing the slow-moving Bronco down Southern California freeways and city streets. The pursuit lasted more than an hour and ended after the Bronco came to a stop at Simpson’s estate in Brentwood.

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OJ Simpson police chase.
A Ford Bronco carrying O.J. Simpson and driven by Al Cowlings during a slow-moving police chase on a Los Angeles freeway, June 17, 1994. Photo by CNN


The double-murder trial began on Jan. 24, 1995 and lasted nine months. Prosecutors said Simpson killed Brown and Goldman in a fit of jealousy and provided DNA evidence, hair and clothing fiber tests linking Simpson to the murder.

A blue knit cap and glove worn by the killer were found at the crime scene. And the Brown and Goldman’s blood were found on the Bronco.

The defence argued that the evidence was either mishandled or planted by a corrupt L.A.P.D. Their strategy to undermine the prosecution’s witnesses appeared to have convinced the jury that the case was not credible.

The defence argued that the bloody gloves that detective Mark Fuhrman said he had found, one at the crime scene and the other at Simpson’s home, were planted.

Fuhrman was subjected to a damaging cross-examination, in which he was asked whether he had used the n-word in the past ten years.

He said he hadn’t but the discovery of audio tapes taken during an interview with a screenwriter had him using the word 41 times, eight years before the murders.

In June, the prosecutors asked Simpson to put on a pair of gloves similar to the ones the killer was believed to have worn. It spectacularly backfired, with Simpson saying they were “too tight” as he grimaced while putting them while facing the jury, showing that it appeared to be too small.

That led defence lawyer Jonnie Cochran to utter the famous line: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Over the course of the case, eight of the jurors were dismissed for misconduct .

The final jury, which was mostly Black, came to believe that Simpson had been framed, and found him not guilty.

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