As FX’s miniseries The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story brings ‘The Trial of the Century’ back into the spotlight 21 years later, INSIDE EDITION looks back at the moments that defined the case.
Just after midnight on June 13, 1994, the bodies of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were found outside her condo in Brentwood, California. Both had multiple stab wounds and both were reportedly dead for hours before being discovered.
Her famous ex-husband quickly became a suspect.
The Chase Seen Around The World
On June 17, 1994, Simpson failed to turn himself into police and an all-points bulletin was released to find him.
Hours later, motorists called police to say they had seen Simpson riding in a white Ford Bronco, which was being driven by his friend Al “AC” Cowlings. Police began following the slow-moving SUV in a chase broadcast on live TV.
The chase would eventually end at Simpson’s home, where he was arrested and taken into custody. Three days later, he was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to both murders.
INSIDE EDITION recently tracked down the Bronco, which is now owned by Mike Gilbert, Simpson’s agent at the time of the murders. It is sitting in prime condition under a blue tarp in his garage in California.
The People Vs. O.J. Simpson
Simpson’s trial began on January 24, 1995.
He hired the legal defense of Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, F. Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, Gerald Uelmen, Carl E. Douglas, as well as Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, who specialized in DNA evidence.
Despite being branded the “Dream Team,” Dershowitz recently told INSIDE EDITION, that was far from the truth.
“It was a nightmare team,” he said. “The lawyer’s egos were clashing. Everybody was trying to take credit. We won, not because we were good but because the prosecution so was so bad.”
Simpson’s team went up against District Attorney Christopher Darden, Assistant D.A. William Hodgman and California state prosecutor Marcia Clark.
Judge Lance Ito allowed cameras in the courtroom. Some say it turned the trial into a media circus and allowed those who took the stand to become household names.
Witness Kato Kaelin Becomes Instant Celebrity
Brian “Kato” Kaelin was staying as a guest at Simpson’s home the night of the murders. The out-of-work actor met the Simpsons during a trip in Aspen, Colorado a few years prior. He was trying to break into the entertainment industry and Nicole allowed him to stay in the family guest house when he moved to Los Angeles in 1992.
He was brought in as a witness for the prosecution. They claimed his version of events contradicted the former NFL star’s claims about where he’d been the night of the killings.
Kaelin testified that he could not account for Simpson's whereabouts between 9:36 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on June 12, 1994. The prosecution alleged the murders occurred between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
Kaelin, who had long blonde hair, was dubbed a “hostile witness” by prosecutor Marcia Clark because of his sarcastic responses to many of her questions. She also accused him of protecting Simpson.
He became an instant celebrity because of his looks and attitude. Throughout the trial, even when he was not on stand, he became fodder for many late night comedians.
Denise Brown Defends Her Late Sister
Nicole’s sister, Denise, took the stand and claimed that her younger sibling was abused by Simpson during their marriage.
Denise claimed the former NFL star once pushed her sister against the wall and destroyed items in the home before kicking her and Nicole out of the house.
She said on another occasion Nicole and Simpson were out with friends and he placed his hand over his wife’s crotch and said: “This is mine.”
But O.J.’s lawyer, Robert Shapiro, portrayed his client as a caring, loving family man.
Defense Paints Detective Mark Fuhrman As a Racist Cop
Detective Mark Fuhrman was the first law enforcement official to go to Simpson’s house to question him. However, the NFL icon was not home.
During his testimony in the preliminary hearing, Fuhrman said he jumped a wall on Simpson’s property and entered without a search warrant. He said he discovered a bloody glove at the residence.
During the trial, Simpson’s legal team tried to allege that the detective planted the glove as part of a racially motivated effort to frame the star. Throughout his examination, Fuhrman invoked his Fifth Amendment right as a protection against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions from Simpson’s lawyers.
Witnesses from the detective’s past were called to make a case against his reputation and paint him as a racist cop. Fuhrman testified that he had not used the N-word in the last 10 years and branded anyone who said he had as a liar. He pleaded no contest to perjury charges.
He retired in August 1995, two months before the jury announced their verdict.
“If It Doesn’t Fit, You Must Acquit”
In the defense’s closing argument on September 27, 1995, Johnnie Cochran created a mantra that would stick throughout the judicial system for years to come: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
It was used after Simpson tried on the gloves discovered by Fuhrman. When he did, they would not fit his hands.
Cochran drove that point home in the closing statement. Wearing a black knit hat, similar to the one the prosecution said Simpson wore on the night of the murders, he pulled out a pair of gloves similar to those found by Fuhrman. Cochran repeated: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
We the Jury Find the Defendant Not Guilty
After nine months, 120 witnesses, 45,000 pages of evidence and 1,100 exhibits, the jury reached their verdict.
The defense rose as the jury read their verdict on October 2, 1995. Simpson was found not guilty.
Cameras filmed Simpson’s elation and tears of joy, before panning to capture the heartbroken Goldman family.