2014. április 7., hétfő

Trial of OJ Simpson

Trial of OJ Simpson

My second blog entry deals with the trial of OJ Simpson. Orenthal James Simpson was found guilty in 2008 with the charge of armed robbery and kidnapping, but this blog post will process the trial in which he was accused with the charge of two counts of first degree murder in 1994. Although it is considered a controversial trial, the case was elected as the „trial of the century” by numerous websites. The US mass media aired the trial, and since more than half of the US population saw the verdict live on TV, the trial became one of the most watched events in the US television history. The curiosity about the trial spread to foreign countries. According to a rumour, when Boris Yeltsin (first president of the Russian Federation) arrived to the United States, the first question he asked from President Bill Clinton was the following: “Do you think O.J. did it?”   The trial also caused tensions within minorities; majority of the African American population was concerned with the question whether an African American person can find justice in the US legal system or not.  Moreover a notable part of the world was curious about whether a celebrity (since OJ was a football and media star) would experience the same constitutional rights as an average American.
To research this trial the following websites were notable help for me:  “http://law2.umkc.edu/” Thanks to this website I was able to acquire OJ Simpson’s original statement to the Los Angeles Police Department.
I hope that my second blog-post will be exciting and easily perceivable for the readers of the blog.
You can find my previous blog entry about the Trial of Jesus Christ at the following link:

Historical bearings
On June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found dead outside the woman’s house. Both victims were brutally murdered – stabbed with a knife; there were dozens of wounds on the bodies and these signs lead the court to the assumption of a pre-planned murder. A neighbour discovered the corpses after realizing that Nicole’s dog was bloody. On the day of the murder OJ attended his daughters’ dance recital, then he went home and later he flew to Chicago. He arrived at a hotel the following day, where after few hours of sleep, his phone rang. The police announced him the death of his wife. His reaction was cold-blooded. He did not even ask who committed it and when. The police set an interrogation for OJ on the same day.
OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson were couple for more than 17 years. According to OJ, the relationship ended three weeks before the murder.
Nicole Brown Simpson
The chronology of the trial
1.    June 12, 1994: Someone murders Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
2.    June 13, 1994: Corpses of victims are discovered.  OJ Simpson is interrogated.
3.    June 17, 1994: OJ should have turned himself in to the police but he failed to appear. He escapes with his car but he is chased down by the police. He is taken into custody.
4.    July 8, 1994: Judge announces that there is evidence against OJ Simpson so he is charged with two counts of first degree murder.
5.    November 3, 1994: Jury is selected.  (interesting fact: many people who believe that OJ is guilty notes that the trial was held in the wrong district where the majority of the local people was African American. These people think that they sympathized with OJ. Only two people were white among the jury.
6.    January 24, 1995: Trial opens.
7.    May 10, 1995: DNA testimony begins.
8.    October 3, 1995: Jury finds OJ Simpson innocent of first degree murders.

The escape of OJ Simpson and the “suicide letter”.
OJ Simpson did not appear at the police station on time and he seemed to be on th run with his car. A police officer followed OJ’s car in which he travelled with his friend. When the police ordered OJ to pull over, the football star pointed a gun to his own head. He left a letter (considered as a suicide letter) to his lawyer, Robert Kardashian.
“To whom it may concern: First, everyone understand I have nothing to do with Nicole's murder. I loved her, always have and always will. If we had a problem, it's because I loved her so much. 
I've had a good life. I'm proud of how I lived. My mama taught me to do unto other. I treated people the way I wanted to be treated. I've always tried to be up and helpful so why is this happening? I'm sorry for the Goldman family. I know how much it hurts. 
Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life, great. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person. Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours.”
On the same day (June 17, 1994) the football star is caught by the police and taken into custody.
Interrogation by Los Angeles Police Department
The interrogation was held by Philip Vannatter and Thomas Lange. It took place on June 13, 1994. It took no more than one hour. Both of the officers were chief investigators of the case. From the interrogation it became clear for the investigators that the relationship between Simpson and Nicole became frosty and the couple decided to separate three weeks prior to the murder. By this time Simpson had been already reported for the police by his ex-wife because of explosive arguments. Although he was not arrested before, OJ was sentenced to community service before the murder.
Throughout the interrogation OJ confessed that on the night of the murder he attended the dance recital at Paul Revere High School. His daughter, Sydney performed. Simpson and Nicole left separately after the event; OJ went home alone while the woman drove away with her family. The ex-football star arrived home around 7 PM. Later, he drove to a flower shop to purchase a bouquet for his daughter.  I was basically at home. I mean any time I was...whatever time it took me to get to the recital and back, to get to the flower shop and back, I mean, that's the time I was out of the house.” According to the aforementioned sentence, Simpson spent the majority of the night at his home before leaving to Chicago.
Around 11 PM a limousine picked him up at his home because he needed to get to the airport in order to fly to Chicago where he planned to attend a golf tournament the day after. During the interrogation one of the investigators noticed interesting wounds on OJ’s hands. The football star could not clearly explain the source of the wounds. He claimed that they must have happened when he hit the wall at the hotel after the night of the murder. When the police told OJ, that they found blood in his car he offered them to take a blood test. Soon he also announced that he owns plenty of guns and he is willing to hand them over to the police. He seemed to cooperative. When the interrogators asked him about whether he ever hit Nicole he responded in the following way; “No, no, I wrestled her, is what I did. I didn't slap her at all.”
OJ also added that he hadn’t been inside the house during the week prior to the murder.
The interrogation ended when Officer Vannater announced that OJ needs to be taken out from the room for a photograph.
The Trial
“I’am absolutely, 100 percent, not guilty.” – OJ Simpson.
The trial began on 24th of January, 1995. A resident living near to Nicole’s house, testified that she saw OJ Simpson driving away in rush from the scene. A knife salesman reported that he sold OJ a 15-inch German made knife three weeks before the murder. Both of these grand jury witnesses “sold” their stories to the mass media so their words could not be taken into consideration throughout the trial. The prosecution agreed not to ask for death penalty, only for life imprisonment.
The prosecution began the trial by playing a 911 recording (911= US emergency number) in which Nicole tells that she fears that OJ would physically harm her. In the background the football star’s yelling can be heard. Later the prosecution used the tactic of convincing the jury; they brought up examples of OJ harming Nicole. The response from the defense was that only a very small number of abused woman are ever murdered.
It is important to mention that since OJ was relatively wealthy, he hired a group of highly prestigious lawyers. The group, often called the “Dream Team”, consisted of: F Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Gerald Uelmen, Carl E. Douglas and Johnnie Cochran.

OJ Simpson alongside with part of his team.

The prosecution did not have reliable witnesses but they felt convinced that they could win because of the DNA evidence. The assumption from the side of the prosecution was the following; OJ drove to the house of Nicole and knocked on the door. The woman (after putting the children into bed) opened the door and was immediately caught and stabbed by OJ. Ron Goldman entered from the backdoor and became the other victim of the rampageous OJ. The prosecution brought a witness to the trial who noted that he saw a Ford Bronco (OJ owned one) speeding away from Nicole’s house. The police also announced that they found the car on the following day of the murder, parked at a strange angle on the road.  The limousine driver noted that he felt that OJ was acting nervously. Although the woman at the airport, who checked OJ’s ticket in, claimed a contrary opinion – according to her OJ looked totally normal. The defense proposed a very tricky idea; OJ as a retired football player with injuries, was not fit enough to kill a young man such as Ron Goldman. The response from the prosecution was that in a documentary preceding the murder, OJ told that even though he was more than 40, he still felt fit.
The prosecution also used Nicole’s sister as witness. She brought up examples from the past about how OJ bullied and maltreated Nicole. Many people from Nicole’s neighborhood were invited to the court to give testimonies. One of them, who found the dead bodies, reported that he heard nervous barking from Nicole’s house around 10 PM. The first police officer to arrive at the scene was Robert Riske who reported that there were no signs of violent entering. He also added that he saw the pair of glasses what Nicole’s mother left in the restaurant after the recital of OJ’s daughter; the glasses which were brought back to Nicole by Ron Goldman who was working in the restaurant as a waiter.
Police reports show that Nicole had been killed first because her barefoot was clean which meant that she did not try to escape.
OJ Simpson’s defense brought up two possible hypotheses for the murder. One was that an assassin followed Ron Goldman to Nicole’s house where he killed both of them. The other one was that drug dealers murdered them while looking for a frequent house guest of Nicole, a woman who was a cocaine abuser.  
DNA analysis was held after the police found footprints at the location of the murder. The DNA testimony did not rule out that Simpson was present at Nicole’s house. The defense brilliantly fought against the evidence of the prosecution (many people believe that with the DNA evidence, Simpson could have been imprisoned), and they found that series of mistakes were committed at the laboratory where the formula was tested. With this the DNA evidence wasn’t used in the court. Although the prosecution called for a repetition of the test, the defense (living with his right) denied the proposal.
A glove was also found in Nicole’s house that contained the DNA of OJ, Nicole and Goldman. The glove was also an opportunity for the prosecution to prove that OJ was the murderer. The defense fought back by making OJ try the glove on his hands in front of the jury and the judge. The glove did not fit. The prosecution explained this by telling that the shape and size could have changed throughout the period of time since the murder- (because of the frosty weather).
The detective (Mark Fuhrman) who was the leader of the investigation often called African Americans with insulting names, so the defense called him as “America’s worst nightmare”.
On the 3rd of October, 1995, after more than 8 months, the jury arrived at a verdict. They announced that OJ Simpson was found not guilty with the charge of two counts of first degree murder. Millions of people were watching the TV when the verdict was announced- not only in the US but also all around the world. In the following video you can see how people reacted for the verdict in the show of Oprah Winfrey.
As it can be seen in the video, the decision really divided the people along racial lines.
Personal opinion
I chose the trial of OJ Simpson, because I believe that almost everyone heard about the case before (as also I did) but few heard about it in details. The researching of OJ Simpson’s trial was a very exciting and instructive journey for me. It was very interesting to see how the defense built up its tactic from small details. My opinion changed while I was writing the blog post. In some parts I felt that OJ Simpson was guilty, but to be honest, the arguments of the defense were pretty convincing and logical so I changed my mind.
To compare it with my previous blog post (about the trial of Jesus Christ- http://greatesttrialsofhistory.blogspot.hu/2014/03/trial-of-jesus-christ.html ) it was very interesting for me to see the similarity between the two trials; both trials divided the public and aroused strong passion. In the Trial of Jesus Christ the wish of the public lead to the verdict, and in the case of OJ Simpson, I believe that the representatives of the legal system feared that the response of the black community would be devastating after a verdict against the football star. It can be also concluded that in the trial of OJ Simpson both the jury and the judge arrived at a verdict by following the laws of the US legal system, while in the trial of Jesus Christ there were no notable pre-written laws present.
It is hard to decide whether the justice or the law was victorious in the trial of OJ Simpson. 
The greatest question in this trial is whether an innocent person could be imprisoned by false charges with falsified evidence or a criminal could be released from the hands of the legal system by not taking all the evidences into consideration.
I hope that I managed to present an enjoyable and complex picture about the case of OJ Simpson.

3 megjegyzés:

  1. It was very fascinating and fun to read!
    I am looking forward to reading the next one!

    1. Thank you very much!
      The following post is coming soon..

  2. It is quite impressive to see a young man as you to be able to give such a detailed overview of a very complicated trial . Your insight is impresive. looking foward to future postings. keep up the good work