Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson was a popular and record-breaking football player who became even more famous when he was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman on June, 12, 1994.
After failing to turn himself in for questioning five days later, Simpson got in the back of his friend Al Cowlings’ 1993 white Ford Bronco and the two led police on a car chase that captivated the nation.
Simpson was eventually arrested and put on trial. What was originally considered an open and shut case for the prosecution turned into an internationally televised media circus. Simpson had a “dream team” of lawyers defending him, including Robert Shapiro, Robert Kardashian, and Johnny Cochran, who heavily played on Simpson’s beloved celebrity status to gain public sympathy. They also ruthlessly scrutinized the investigators for their procedural ineptitude and failure to properly handle evidence. The climax of their defense came when Simpson tried on a bloody glove from the crime scene, leading Cochran to declare, “If it doesn’t fit you must acquit!”
On October 3, 1995, after only three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. On top of competing against Simpson’s popular public image, it is thought that the prosecution failed to adequately explain DNA evidence to the jury, which was still a relatively new concept at the time, but would be considered ironclad proof now. Despite advances in forensic analysis that would likely convict Simpson today, Simpson is protected by double jeopardy laws and cannot be tried for the same crime twice. However, in 1997 the Brown and Goldman families sued Simpson for damages in a civil trial. Simpson was found liable for their wrongful deaths and ordered to pay a $33.5 million judgment.
Simpson found himself back in the spotlight in September 2007 when he was charged with armed robbery and kidnapping. The robbery occurred at a Las Vegas hotel where Simpson claimed he was simply attempting to recover his own property, memorabilia that two dealers had allegedly stolen from him. On October 3, 2008, exactly thirteen years after Simpson was acquitted for the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman, Simpson was found guilty on all charges and subsequently sentenced to thirty-three years in prison. He is eligible for parole in July of 2017 and, if granted, could be released as early as October that same year.