Today in History – OJ acquitted

I wanted to title the post OJ gets away with murder, but then I figure someone would accuse me of slandering the man (or is it libeling – I never can keep them straight and I’m too lazy to check which is in print and which is verbal), and I just wanted a humorous title. So I’ll stick to what we know, and leave the hypothesizing to water-cooler chat groups.

Today in 1995, after only 4 hours of deliberation, the jury in the OJ Simpson murder trial returned with a not guilty verdict. I remember the event well enough, because about 90% of the folks in the office where I worked all went into our large conference room to watch the broadcast. I sat with my supervisor talking about work instead. When someone else on the way to watch the reading of the verdict asked if I was going to come watch, I responded “No, I already know they are going to say not guilty.” He was amazed I could think Simpson was not guilty. I pointed out to him that I didn’t say he was not guilty, but rather that the jury would find him not guilty. And my reasoning was simple (and correct, thankfully) – no one would convict a well known and well liked man of a double murder with the harsh penalty that verdict would carry. I simply didn’t believe the people on that jury would announce in that short a time a guilty penalty against someone who came across as a generally likeable person.

At the end of a sensational trial, former football star O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the brutal 1994 double murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. In the epic 252-day trial, Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers employed creative and controversial methods to convince jurors that Simpson’s guilt had not been proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” thus surmounting what the prosecution called a “mountain of evidence” implicating him as the murderer.

Orenthal James Simpson–a Heisman Trophy winner, star running back with the Buffalo Bills, and popular television personality–married Nicole Brown in 1985. He reportedly regularly abused his wife and in 1989 pleaded no contest to a charge of spousal battery. In 1992, she left him and filed for divorce. On the night of June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were stabbed and slashed to death in the front yard of Mrs. Simpson’s condominium in Brentwood, Los Angeles. By June 17, police had gathered enough evidence to charge O.J. Simpson with the murders.

Simpson had no alibi for the time frame of the murders. Some 40 minutes after the murders were committed, a limousine driver sent to take Simpson to the airport saw a man in dark clothing hurrying up the drive of his Rockingham estate. A few minutes later, Simpson spoke to the driver though the gate phone and let him in. During the previous 25 minutes, the driver had repeatedly called the house and received no answer.

. . .

In polls, a majority of African Americans believed Simpson to be innocent of the crime, while white America was confident of his guilt. However, the jury–made up of nine African Americans, two whites, and one Hispanic–was not so divided; they took just four hours of deliberation to reach the verdict of not guilty on both murder charges. On October 3, 1995, an estimated 140 million Americans listened in on radio or watched on television as the verdict was delivered.

In February 1997, Simpson was found liable for several charges related to the murders in a civil trial and was forced to award $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the victims’ families. However, with few assets remaining after his long and costly legal battle, he has avoided paying the damages.

I would like to point out that after the trail, Simpson said he would not rest until the real murderer was found. Since then, he has been seen frequenting numerous golf courses in Florida. I have to assume this means he thinks the real murderer is a golfer who has taken up residence in Florida.

[tags]OJ Simpson acquitted today in 1995, Today in History[/tags]