The controversial verdict in The People v. O.J. Simpson

By Himanshu Agrawal

How do we decide if a person is guilty and crime has been committed? The answer would be that investigating officers search for bread crumbs left by the culprit intentionally or unintentionally. In legal jargon, these bread crumbs are known as Evidence. It refers to any kind of proof which could be presented in a legal trial so as to ascertain who is the culprit and deliver justice, subject to rules established by law. This case is the perfect example to show the importance of proper preservation of evidence by showing how evidence can be tampered with easily if accused is influential and how the due course of law gets affected.

Citizens of the U.S. were riveted for months after indisputable DNA evidence was laid out in a televised trial where one of the most beloved athletes in the country, Mr. O.J. Simpson, had murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and possibly her lover, Ronald Goldman. However, even after evidence could be found all over his car, his clothes, his gloves, in the form of blood traces, Simpson was somehow found not guilty. Yet, most Americans believe he did it. Simpson, wrote a book, which was titled, “I did it”, which was later modified to “If I did it” on Simpson’s insistence so that he could have plausible deniability for killing the mother of his children. In his book, he described how he would have done the murder if he were not innocent.

On February 2, 1985, O. J. Simpson and Nicole Brown tied the knot and had two children, Sydney and Justin. There were many reports of abuse after their marriage. Nicole Brown Simpson was found dead outside her L.A. residence along with her friend Ronald Goldman, on the night of June 12, 1994, while the two children were still asleep. The bodies were discovered when Nicole’s howling dog Akita attracted the neighbor’s attention because of a blood-covered belly and paws. The only possible suspect was Brown’s ex-husband, O. J. Simpson.

Here is a reproduction of a list of evidence collected from the crime scene and used in the trial:

  • Hair identified as belonging to Simpson was found on cap recovered from the crime scene and on Goldman’s shirt.
  • Cotton fibers similar to those from the carpet in Simpson’s car were found on the glove found at Simpson’s current residence.
  • Fibers similar to that from Simpson’s car were found on the cap at the crime scene.
  • There was blood near shoe prints at the crime scene which was suspected to be that of the Killer’s and was of the same type as Simpson’s.
  • There were fresh cuts on Simpson’s left hand on the morning following the day of the murder.
  • There was blood found in the Ford Bronco, foyer and master bedroom of Simpson’s home.
  • The blood found on Simpson’s socks found out to be that of Nicole’s.
  • The left glove found at the crime scene and the right glove which was found at Simpson’s current residence were found to be of the same size, brand and make (Aris Light gloves, size XL).
  • Turns out that Nicole Brown bought a pair of gloves of the same make and brand in 1990 from a departmental store.
  • Simpson wore the same pair of gloves as mentioned earlier for a period of 4 years between 1990 and 1994.
  • Shoe prints found at the crime scene were identified to be made from a size 12 Bruno Magli shoe.
  • The Bloody impression found in the Ford Bronco carpet was similar to that found on the crime scene. It was duly noted that Simpson wore size 12.

The bloody glove which belonged to Simpson was a crucial piece of evidence in this case, out of which one was found at the crime scene and the other at Simpson’s current residence. The presence of the missing glove from the crime scene and found at the Simpson’s current residence in itself raised a red flag. During the trial, Simpson was asked to try the recovered gloves while wearing latex gloves, in order to not to destroy the evidence and check if it fits him. The gloves fit him comfortably but were extremely tight. Simpson’s lawyers defended by stating that the gloves had been forced on to Simpson’s hands, however, an expert later stated that exposure to moisture and blood caused the gloves to shrink, otherwise, the gloves would have fit him perfectly. All the pieces of evidence pointed out that Simpson is the killer, even on a layman’s observation. However, due to the negligence of the forensic officers in preserving the evidence, there have been many snags in the reports ripping apart the prosecutor’s otherwise strong case. There were many mistakes, attributable to negligence and carelessness, made in preservation of the evidence, that made it inadmissible such as, blood recovered from the socks at Simpson’s current residence of the time was unnoticed for almost 2 months; similarly, another piece of evidence was reportedly not packed properly and was exposed to high temperatures due to which it became questionable to use it during the trial.

Here, there could be other circumstances which should have also been considered by the investigating officers, such as Nicole Brown’s pet dog, it belonged to a bread of Akita family, which are known to be ferocious and protective, the fact that her pet dog did not create any commotion during the murders, shows that the person who entered their house was someone whom the dog recognized, which could very well be the prime suspect, Simpson. Further, there were no signs of a break in or burglary at the crime scene, forensic experts also stated that the way this crime was executed showed that it fueled by rage. The defense attorneys for Simpson claimed that he could not have killed anyone due to the injuries he sustained in a match previously, however, his certain public appearances and actions were found to be in contradiction with this stance. Further, he added that he had an alibi, his limo driver who came to pick him up to drop at the airport on night of the murder, however, when driver was questioned, he mentioned that Simpson was late and was not answering the door-bell that night which Simpson tried to justify the delay by saying that he overslept.

In 2006, in Simpson’s last TV interview on Fox channel, he supposedly confessed to the crime, wherein he said, “I am going to tell you a story you have never heard before, because no one knows the story the way I know it”, and continued to narrate the incident as if he were present at the crime scene on the night when murders took place. Therefore, even though there were tons of evidence pointing towards him as the killer, the court could not do anything because even though there was plenty of evidence pointing towards the culprit, if not preserved properly for the court to use it during the trial, justice cannot be delivered. In this case, it can be seen in a way that the officers were deliberately not preserving the evidence since the beginning. At the end of the day, the truth is known to none except to those involved and the rest will never get their answers.

Himanshu is a 2nd-year LL.B. student at Jindal Global Law School.


Image source: Mirror

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