What did O.J. Simpson do?
O.J. Simpson was set to be remembered as one of the greatest running backs in American football history until one fateful summer night in 1994. June 12th is a date etched in the memory of many who followed the news as it broke. Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were butchered at 879 Bundy Drive in the lavish suburb of Brentwood in Los Angeles. Nicole was nearly decapitated in the brutal slaying, and Ron was stabbed multiple times as he valiantly fought back against his attacker.
Orenthal James Simpson was suspected of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, as he returned to Los Angeles from a planned golf tournament in Chicago. He denied committing the murders as the media went crazy for the story. Simpson agreed to surrender himself to custody, but changed his mind and fled with his ex-football teammate Al Cowlings in the now-infamous low-speed Bronco car chase. Thousands of people cheered for Simpson as he led the police on a merry-go-round car chase around Los Angeles. He eventually returned to his Rockingham estate in Brentwood and was arrested and later charged with the double murder.
What happened during the trial of the century?
The trial of the century is how the media billed The People vs. O.J. Simpson. The trial was televised and people followed it through every bit of evidence and shocking testimony. Never before had a case garnered such attention in America. Still reeling from the brutal beating of Rodney King by a group of LAPD cops and the subsequent acquittal of the perpetrators, Americans were cynical about how effective and fair the justice system was. For years, the LAPD had faced accusations of racial abuse, and once again, they had gotten away with it. People wanted the scales to balance up, and then the Simpson trial came along.
The trial provided O.J. Simpson’s defence team, led by Johnnie Cochran, with the perfect opportunity to rile up the raw emotions of past injustices. However, Simpson was a guilty man, not an innocent man persecuted for the colour of his skin. This case was about the escalation of domestic abuse into murder, not race. But Cochran created a narrative that put a racist detective front and centre as the villain of the piece. He claimed that Detective Mark Fuhrman framed O.J. Simpson for murder by planting a bloody glove found at the crime scene at Simpson’s Rockingham estate, and he successfully created reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.
Despite the mountain of DNA evidence against Simpson, the prosecution led by Marcia Clark failed to convince the jury of the ex-footballer’s guilt. This was 1995, and the use of DNA evidence was in its infancy in criminal trials. The onus was on the state to explain how it all worked, and they failed miserably. The jury chose to believe Cochran’s incendiary statements, and after 9 months, the jury deliberated for less than 4 hours to acquit O.J. Simpson of the murders.
What happened to O.J. Simpson after his acquittal?
O.J. Simpson celebrated well into the night at his Rockingham estate after being found not guilty of the double murders, which had kept him incarcerated for over a year. The gruelling trial had the public divided on whether he was innocent or guilty. The media was less divided as they largely reported on one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in the history of the American judicial system.
But none of this changed the verdict, and O.J. Simpson was once again a free man and eager to share his side of the story. He appeared on countless talk shows and one-off specials to maintain his innocence and point towards alternative theories. But there were no alternative theories. O.J. Simpson simply got away with murder. He was now a pariah, with many of his former celebrity friends turning their backs on him.
He was later found guilty in a civil case brought against him by the Brown and Goldman families and ordered to pay over $30 million in compensation to them. Any money he made in the future would go towards paying the victims’ families until his debt was settled. Unfortunately, they have not been able to collect much money from him, but Ron Goldman’s father, Fred, has persisted in his pursuit of some level of justice.
Simpson wrote a book titled If I Did It in a shocking attempt to make money from his notoriety. Ron Goldman successfully petitioned to have the proceeds from the book go towards repaying the civil judgment. The family re-released the book with the new title I Did It, with the word “if” appearing in very small letters inside the “I” on the front cover of the book.
Did O.J. Simpson go to prison?
The Goldmans’ rerelease of his book infuriated Simpson, and on the day the book was published, the former running back returned to his criminal ways. He led a group of thugs in an armed robbery to retrieve sports memorabilia he believed had been stolen from him. The group burst into a hotel room in Los Angeles and took back the memorabilia, holding the occupants of the room at gunpoint.
The State of Nevada vs. Orenthal James Simpson court case saw the conviction of O.J. Simpson for armed robbery on the 3rd October, 2008. This was 13 years to the exact day that he was acquitted of the murders of Nicole and Ron. On the 5th of December, 2008, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison with the possibility of parole in 9 years.
Where is O.J. Simpson now?
On the 20th July, 2017, millions tuned in to watch O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing. He had spent over 8 years in prison at the Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada. He was granted parole and released from captivity 3 months later. In 2021, he was granted early discharge from parole and is now a completely free man. He is 76 years old and resides in Las Vegas.
Simpson is very active on social media, with his own Twitter account, but refuses to discuss the trial of the century anymore. He leans more towards discussing his picks for fantasy football and filming himself out on the golf course.
If you want to see the full story of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, from Heisman Trophy winner to murderer, the best documentary to watch is O.J.: Made in America, which is available to stream on Disney+. It had a limited release in cinemas in 2016 and won Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, despite being nearly 8 hours long. It was cut into 5 episodes when it was originally released on ESPN as part of their 30 for 30 series.
A drama series about the case is also available on Netflix, called The People vs. O.J. Simpson, starring Cuba Gooding Jr and David Schwimmer.
What do you think of O.J. Simpson and the trial of the century? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!