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July 21, 2017

History of OJ Simpson:

The Life, Times & Trials of OJ Simpson.

They were two of the most high-profile court cases of the last 25 years, thanks to the man who sat in the dock.

OJ Simpson found himself in front of a judge twice in 13 years.

The first time, he was accused of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson Brown, and Ron Goldman. The second, the kidnap and armed robbery of two memorabilia dealers.

He was only convicted of the latter and, having served nine years, is set to be freed in October.

The 1995 trial

Simpson’s first trial gripped America, divided opinion and made celebrities of everyone who came into contact with it.

The prosecutors: Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden

Prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden became celebrities.

Marcia Clark would later describe the 135 days she spent as lead prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case as a “trial by fire”.

She not only found herself the fodder of tabloid gossip but also the victim of sexism at the hands of many of the men inside the courtroom.

Ms Clark was also forced to live with the guilt – as she saw it – of failing the Brown and Goldman families.

Afterwards, she withdrew from prosecution and is now a best-selling novelist, having published her first book in 2011.

Marcia Clark (R) in 2017 with Sarah Paulson, who portrayed her in a recent mini-series.

Her colleague Christopher Darden, the co-prosecutor on the case, did not come in for quite the attention Ms Clark did.

However, he too left with a bitter taste in his mouth, telling Oprah Winfrey in 2014 he had been “devastated and decimated by the trial” which, looking back on after two decades, had left him with an “angry” feeling.

Mr Darden swapped practising law for teaching it straight after the trial, before turning his hand to criminal defence.

The defence team: Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian.

The “dream team”: (left to right) Johnnie Cochran, OJ Simpson and Robert Shapiro sitting in court with Robert Kardashian leaning over them.

Simpson’s so-called “dream team” was a collection of lawyers known for representing the rich and famous. Of course, after they were done clearing Simpson’s name, they were also rich and famous.

Johnnie Cochran – who had just represented Michael Jackson in his sexual molestation case – is probably best remembered for the phrase “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” – a reference to the blood-stained glove found at the scene which the prosecution hoped would place Simpson at the scene.

After the trial, he made millions from a book deal before dying of cancer in 2005.

Robert Shapiro (pictured in 2017 representing Conrad Hilton) is still practising.

Robert Shapiro had also established himself as a celebrity lawyer long before taking part in the Simpson trial. He is practising to this day.

As for the 1995 Simpson trial, he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016: “There’s two types of justice that we deal with in America: there’s moral justice and there’s legal justice.

“If you look at it from a moral point of view, a lot of people would say he absolutely did it. I deal in legal justice, as you did as a lawyer, and that’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And there’s no question in my mind that any fair juror who saw that case from the beginning to the end would conclude there was reasonable doubt.”

Robert Kardashian’s daughters – from far left, Khoe, Kourtney and Kim – and ex-wife Kim (second right) are now reality TV stars.

Simpson’s long-time friend Robert Kardashian was thrust into the spotlight after reading out the sports star’s goodbye letter following the infamous car chase.

Mr Kardashian apparently believed in his friend’s innocence so much he reactivated a long dormant attorney’s licence to help at the trial.

Afterwards, he would say he had doubts over Simpson’s innocence. Mr Kardashian died of oesophageal cancer in 2003 – four years before his family would become household names, although this time for quite different reasons.

The cop: Mark Fuhrman

Mark Fuhrman has had a successful career following the trial.

Police officer Mark Fuhrman was supposed to be the prosecution’s star witness during the trial. Instead, after tapes of him using the n-word emerged, he was labelled a racist and accused of planting evidence to frame Simpson.

He retired during the trial, and was later charged with perjury – which he admitted – having denied using the n-word during his testimony.

It did not stop him going on to be a successful true crime writer starting, of course, with Murder in Brentwood, and later a television pundit, a role he retains to this day.

The witness: Kato Kaelin

Kato Kaelin – pictured at the trial, and in 2015 – was staying with Simpson the night of the murders.

Brian “Kato” Kaelin was staying in Simpson’s guesthouse on the night of the murder. An aspiring actor, he testified against Simpson during the trial but was roundly derided as looking like a beach bum.

He has gone on to have various screen roles, the most recent of which is in an advert for GuestHouseRent.com – released days before Simpson’s parole hearing.

‘I AM the guest house expert,’ he tells the camera.

The victims’ families: The Browns and Goldmans

Juditha Brown, the mother of Nicole Brown Simpson (far left), Ron Goldman’s father Fred, step-mother Patti and sister Kim Goldman (right).

The families of Nicole Brown Smith and Ron Goldman were not prepared to give up after Simpson was declared not guilty by the jury.

They went on to win a civil case against Simpson, who was ordered to pay $33.5m (£25.8m) in damages to their families.

As a result, the families also own the rights to If I Did It, Simpson’s 2008 book explaining how he would have committed the murders had he been responsible.

Ron’s sister Kim – who dedicates a lot of her time to helping victims of domestic violence – said earlier this year there was “no escaping” the killing, as it continued to fascinate the public.

Fred and Kim Goldman were present when Simpson was convicted in 2008.

The 2008 trial

Simpson’s second trial was never going to be as high-profile as the first.

However, it too had its key players – his accomplices, the majority of whom turned state’s witness, and the two victims.

Pictures of the alleged co-accused were projected on to the wall during the trial.

The court heard how in 2007 the former football player was accompanied by five other men as he tried to reclaim family pictures and footballs peddled by sport memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Four of these five men made plea deals, testifying against the former sports star. Three were given probation, and one was given total immunity.

It led to Simpson being sentenced to 33 years for armed robbery, assault, kidnapping and other offenses.

Clarence Stewart was also sentenced to almost 30 years in prison.

The only co-accused who did not testify against Simpson was his golfing friend Clarence Stewart, who was sentenced to a minimum of seven-and-a-half years behind bars, which could have stretched to a 27-year prison term.

However, he was released from prison in 2011 after reaching a plea deal with the prosecutor.

Bruce Fromong has said he will now back Simpson for parole.

Simpson’s group kidnapped two memorabilia dealers in September 2007: Alan Beardsley, and Bruce Fromong.

The former was a convicted felon who died in 2015, and the latter had been a friend of Simpson’s since the 1990s.

Both denied having stolen anything from the NFL player and Fromong has indicated he planned to testify on Simpson’s behalf at his parole hearing.

“I never thought that the crime deserved that much time, that long of a sentence,” Fromong told CNN.


Before 1994, Simpson was regarded with affection by the American public.

Prosecutors at the double murder trial accused OJ Simpson of beating Nicole Brown Simpson over a period of 17 years.

The legal “dream team” defending him had, as the recent eight-hour, Oscar-winning documentary OJ: Made in America makes clear, put race front and centre in the trial, despite Simpson having not previously associated himself strongly with the black community and the civil rights struggle.

“Not only did we play the race card, we dealt if from the bottom of the deck,” Robert Shapiro, one of Simpson’s lawyers, would say after the verdict.

But the families of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson pursued Simpson in a civil case which in 1997 found him responsible for the pair’s deaths and ordered him to pay the families tens of millions of dollars – most of which is still outstanding.


HOW IT HAPPENED:

The Conviction of O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson convicted of robbery and kidnapping

LAS VEGAS — A jury convicted the former football star O.J. Simpson of robbery and kidnapping, a verdict that came 13 years to the day after Simpson was acquitted in the highly publicized slayings of his ex-wife and a friend of hers.

This time, Simpson was convicted of all 12 charges he faced stemming from a confrontation in a casino hotel room in September 2007 in which he and five other people departed with hundreds of items of sports memorabilia.

The items were in the possession of two memorabilia dealers, Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, who were led to believe a prospective buyer was coming to browse the goods. Instead, Simpson and his group burst into the room and, according to several witnesses, at least one gun was brandished.

In the courtroom as the verdict was read, Simpson showed no emotion. He was led away in handcuffs and taken into custody. Simpson, 61, and a co-defendant, Clarence Stewart, 54, are facing a prison sentence of 15 years to life on the kidnapping charge. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5.

Simpson will appeal, said one of his lawyers, Yale Galanter said at the time.

“He’s extremely upset, extremely emotional,” Galanter said. “We knew this was going to be very difficult, we knew the jury was going to be very difficult, we knew the jurisdiction would be very difficult.”

The Clark County district attorney, David Roger, who was the lead prosecutor in the case, said his office would not comment on the case until after sentencing.

At the time, none of the jury of nine women and three men spoke to the news media. They had deliberated for 13 hours, mulling over weeks of testimony as well as hours of surreptitious audio recordings of the planning and execution of the event by Thomas Riccio, a memorabilia auctioneer who arranged the confrontation.

Simpson has said he was seeking to retrieve only personal keepsakes like ceremonial footballs from his Hall of Fame career in the National Football League and photos of his family that years ago were taken from his home; the prosecutors said he should have filed a civil lawsuit to regain the items if they were, in fact, stolen from him.

“We don’t want people going into rooms to take property,” Roger said. “That is robbery. You don’t go in and get a gun and demand property from people.”

Four of the 24 witnesses who testified were the other men who accompanied Simpson and Stewart. All four had accepted plea deals from prosecutors in exchange for testimony. Two of them, Walter Alexander and Michael McClinton, had carried guns in the incident, and McClinton testified that he had done so at Simpson’s request.

Simpson said he did not know the two would carry weapons and never saw any guns displayed during the incident.

The proceedings failed to capture the intense public interest that Simpson’s acquittal did in 1995. That case became a racial touchstone in the United States after Simpson, who is black, was charged with murdering his former wife, Nicole Simpson, and a friend of hers, Ronald Goldman, both of whom were white. He was acquitted by a 12-member jury that included eight blacks after the defense implied that racist officials had planted or forged evidence. None of the jurors were black this time, a factor that could play into an appeal, his lawyers said.

Ronald Goldman’s father, Frederic Goldman, admitted that he had followed the proceedings this time “only generally” from his home in Phoenix.

“At the absolute least, I’d like to see him in jail,” Goldman said before the verdict was announced. “He’s not going to get the punishment for Ron’s murder that he deserved, but at least he should be in jail for as long as they can put him there.”

The defense this time focused much of its efforts on discrediting Fromong, Beardsley and the four men who assisted Simpson and Stewart. On several occasions, two Simpson lawyers, Galanter and Gabriel Grasso, caught those witnesses in contradictions, as when Fromong insisted he did not try to sell his story despite audio recordings immediately after the incident in which Fromong is heard saying: “I’ll have ‘Inside Edition’ down here tomorrow. I told them I want big money.”

While Simpson’s acquittal in 1995 was never discussed, it hung over the proceedings. Jurors were quizzed extensively before their selection about their views of that trial, and references were made in some of the audio recordings to the fact that Simpson owes the estates of Simpson and Goldman $33.5 million because in 1997 he was held liable in a civil lawsuit for the deaths.

Galanter attacked that issue in his closing, noting that Riccio’s recorder had picked up police officers at the crime scene seeming to exult in their chance to prosecute Simpson. He also noted that Riccio testified he had made more than $200,000 in fees from the news media in exchange for interviews and rights to his recordings.

“This case has never been about a search for the true facts,” Galanter said. “This case has taken on a life of its own because Simpson’s involved. You know that, I know that. Every cooperator, every person with a gun, every person who signed a book deal, every person who got paid money, the police, the district attorney’s office, was only interested in one thing: Mr. Simpson.”


NOW THE PAROLE:

O.J. Simpson has been granted parole after nine years in prison for a Las Vegas robbery, a group of four Nevada commissioners decided today. The imprisoned former NFL player could be released as early as Oct. 1.

After learning he would be released, Simpson, 70, was emotional, showing visible relief. As he left the hearing room and went back inside the prison, Simpson could be heard saying, “Oh! God! Oh!”

Simpson delivered a rambling account of the case to the parole board earlier today, maintaining that he didn’t intend to steal but “wish this would have never happened.”

Simpson was at times jovial and combative with the members of the parole board, expressing his remorse and saying he’s humbled by his incarceration. Simpson was sentenced to prison following an arrest in 2007 during a botched robbery in Las Vegas, when he led a group of men into a hotel and casino to steal sports memorabilia at gunpoint. He contended the memorabilia and other personal items belonged to him.

Simpson told the parole board today, “I take full responsibility.”

 

Simpson’s account of the botched robbery

Simpson appeared remotely via video conference from Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada, where he’s serving time for kidnapping and armed robbery. Simpson began by explaining what he said led to crime, telling the board how he learned that some “some guys” were trying to “fence” what he said were his personal mementos in Las Vegas.

O.J. Simpson reacts after he was mistakenly asked by a parole official if he had recently turned 90 during his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, July 20, 2017.

“As a perfect storm we all ended up in Las Vegas, you know? I was there for a wedding and [was told that] the property was there.”

He later continued, “I said, ‘Of course I would like to get the property.’ He told me the names of what he thought were the people in the room, and I realized these are friends of mine. You know? Actually guys who helped me move, helped me move and store some of this stuff.”

Simpson explained, “When I came into the [hotel] room I noticed spread out everywhere was my personal property.”

“The only thing I saw that was on display that wasn’t mine was some baseballs, and I made it clear to everybody those are not mine. All I want is my property. … I wasn’t there to steal from anybody.”

“I would never, ever pull a weapon,” he said.

Simpson added, “I haven’t made any excuses in the nine years I’ve been here and not trying to make an excuses now.”

When asked if he believed that the property was his, Simpson replied, “It’s been ruled legally by the state of California that it was my property and they’ve given it to me.”

Simpson: ‘I was always a good guy’

Simpson reassured the board he would be successful meeting the conditions of his parole before it was granted, saying, “I’m not a guy who lived a criminal life.”

O.J. Simpson appears in the parole hearing room to attend his hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, July 20, 2017.

Simpson said in his nine years behind bars, he’s been “a good guy.”

“I was always a good guy, but could have been a better Christian, and my commitment to change is to be a better Christian.”

He said he took an “alternative to violence” course in prison, calling it “the most important course anybody in this prison can take because it teaches you how to deal with conflict through conversation.”

“I had some problems with fidelity in my life, but I’ve always been a guy that pretty much got along with everybody,” he said.

Simpson said he’s missed 36 birthdays with his children while behind bars and missed their college graduations. Once released, he said he wants to spend as much time as he can with his family.

Simpson’s lawyer fumbles letter

During the hearing, Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, planned to read to the board a letter Simpson wrote to a Nevada assemblyman, but LaVergne had difficulty finding it and asked Simpson in front of the commissioners, “Did you take the letter? I can’t find it now.”

He then located the letter and read it to the board; in the letter, Simpson advocates for state funds to go toward education for inmates.

LaVergne then argued to the board that Simpson’s letter didn’t ask for special treatment or an early release, but instead showed how Simpson wants to help other inmates have “a better life.”

Simpson’s daughter: ‘We just want him to come home’

Simpson’s eldest daughter, Arnelle Simpson, also spoke at the hearing, appearing emotional as she told the board her father is her “best friend” and her “rock.”

“No one really knows how much we have been through, this ordeal in the last nine years,” she said, noting that “he didn’t make the right decision” on the day of the robbery.

“We just want him to come home,” she said. “This has been really, truly hard. … I know that he is remorseful.”

Robbery victim speaks: ‘O.J. never held a gun on me’

Bruce Fromong, one of the robbed memorabilia dealers and a victim in the case, spoke in Simpson’s favor at the hearing. He admitted the hotel room did contain items that belong to Simpson, but said that on the day of the robbery, “Simpson was misguided.”

Fromong continued, “He was led to believe that on that day, there were going to be thousands of pieces of his personal memorabilia, pictures of his wife from his first marriage, pictures of his kids. He was told there were going to be possibly his wife’s wedding ring, thousands of things. He was misled about what was going to be there that day.”

“O.J. never held a gun on me,” Fromong said. “O.J. is my friend, always has been, and I hope will remain my friend.”

The parole order

The parole order gave these reasons for granting parole: Simpson has no or minimal prior conviction history, he has stable release plans, he has community and/or family support, he has a positive institutional record, he participated in programs specific to addressing behavior that led to incarceration, and his victim is in support of his parole.

Key moments in Simpson’s life

Simpson’s football career took him from the University of Southern California to the Buffalo Bills. Following his retirement, his celebrity status catapulted him to movie stardom and a cushy Brentwood, California, mansion.

More than 20 years ago, Simpson went on trial for the killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. On June 12, 1994, the two were stabbed to death at her Los Angeles home. On Oct. 3, 1995, at the end of a televised trial that captivated the nation, Simpson was acquitted of all criminal charges. He has always maintained his innocence.

Johnnie Cochran puts his arm on O.J. Simpson’s shoulder after Simpson told Judge Lance Ito that he has faith that jurors will acquit him of the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, Sept. 22, 1995, in Los Angeles.

A civil jury later ordered Simpson to pay $33.5 million in damages after finding him liable for wrongful death in the double murder.

For the 2007 robbery, Simpson was charged with a number of felony counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery. He was found guilty and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.

His bid for a new trial in the case was rejected in 2013, but he was granted parole that same year on some of the charges, based on good behavior. He was not released from prison at that time, since his prison sentences were set to run consecutively. Simpson had to wait until this year to appear again before the parole board.

Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto, told ABC News earlier this year that Simpson is “hopeful.” Scotto said if Simpson is freed, he would want “to just keep a low profile, be with his kids, be with his family, play golf.”

O.J. Simpson smiles as he approaches the parole hearing room to attend his hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, July 20, 2017.

Ron Goldman’s family speaks ahead of parole hearing

Hours before the parole hearing, Ron Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” “What’s troubling to me is not only him, but the whole system gives second chances to violent felons or, for that matter, anyone in jail. … Ron doesn’t get a second chance.

“Ron never gets to spend his life doing what he wanted to do,” Fred Goldman continued. “We’ll never get to share his life, and the killer will walk free and get to do whatever he wants.”

Fred Goldman said the parole board should take into account that Simpson was found liable for the killings in the 1997 civil trial.

“I think his whole history of violence, ignoring the law, no respect for the law, no remorse for virtually anything he’s ever done is an indication of who he is as a person,” Fred Goldman said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to think that he’s going to be a decent human being in society. I think he’s proved otherwise.”

Added Ron Goldman’s sister, Kim Goldman, “We lived our life with [Simpson] walking the streets and sharing the same roads that we did.”

“With him being locked up in Lovelock, it’s been a chance for us to kind of reclaim some control over our life and have some glimpse of sanity,” she said. “I’m preparing myself for that to be changing come October.”

O.J. Simpson’s daughter Arnelle Simpson, sister Shirley Baker and friend Tom Scotto react during Simpson’s parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Center, July 20, 2017 in Lovelock, Nev.

 

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