O. J. Simpson

Los Angeles County, California
Date of Crime:  June 12, 1994

Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson was found civilly liable for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and Ronald Lyle Goldman, 25. He had earlier been acquitted of the murders in criminal court, but he is perceived by many as guilty despite his acquittal. The victims, who were white, were found outside Nicole's home at 875 S. Bundy Drive in Brentwood, CA. O.J., who was black, was a Heisman trophy winner, a Hollywood movie actor, a network TV football commentator, and was known for the TV commercials he made for the Hertz Car Rental Agency. He was the most famous American ever charged with murder. O.J.'s criminal trial was dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” although that designation had previously been used to describe the 1935 trial of the alleged Lindbergh baby killer.

Because of O.J.'s celebrity status as a prominent African-American, his criminal trial was held in downtown Los Angeles with a mostly black jury rather than in the Brentwood area where a jury would likely be mostly or entirely white. Los Angeles had previously erupted into riots by blacks after white policemen were acquitted in 1992 of beating a black man named Rodney King. The beating had been caught on videotape, which appeared to prove the guilt of the policemen. Los Angeles authorities did not want another riot to occur, which might have happened if O.J. was seen as being wrongly convicted by a mostly white jury.

Prior to the murders, Nicole had put her house up for sale and wanted to evade taxes by claiming to live at O.J.'s house. O.J. had sent her a letter three days before the murders, refusing to go along with Nicole's plan. It is not clear if O.J.'s refusal had especially angered Nicole, but there was a dispute between the two that became apparent on the day of the murders. In the late afternoon on that day O.J. and Nicole attended a dance recital for their daughter, Sydney Simpson, at the Paul Revere Middle School. Nicole's family also attended. Though O.J. had always been close to Nicole's family, Nicole made it clear that O.J. was not welcome to sit with the family and not invited to the dinner afterwards. Apparently peeved, O.J. dragged a chair to a far corner of the auditorium and watched the recital from there. Nevertheless, a video taken immediately after the recital shows O.J. in a cheery mood. He was warm to Nicole's parents and enthusiastically embraced his children.

Following the recital, Nicole and her family had dinner at a restaurant, the Mezzaluna, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Afterwards, when Nicole's mother reported she had left a pair of eyeglasses at the restaurant, Nicole called Ron Goldman, a friend and waiter at the restaurant, to retrieve the eyeglasses. Although Goldman did not wait on Nicole's party, he agreed to return the eyeglasses to Nicole.

Evidence suggested the murders were unplanned as they did not occur at a time when anyone could reasonably expect Nicole to be alone. At the time of the recital, Sydney, 9, planned a sleepover at Nicole's with her friend, Rachael. O.J.'s son, Justin, 6, was also going to be there. And yet, according to the prosecution theory, O.J. planned to kill Nicole in front of these children on a summer night. After Rachael's parents announced at the last moment that their daughter could not sleep over, Nicole just took the kids for ice cream. At 9 p.m. on the night of the murders, O.J. did not appear to have been planning anything, as he casually went with a buddy, Brian “Kato” Kaolin, to get hamburgers at a nearby McDonald's. The two went in O.J.'s Bentley and parted company at 9:40 p.m. Kato was a former tenant of Nicole's who was then staying for free in O.J.'s guest house. O.J. lived at 360 N. Rockingham Ave., in Brentwood, 2 miles northwest of Nicole's house.

Evidence indicated that the murders occurred between 10:05 p.m. and 10:15 p.m., within a span of two or three minutes. Goldman reasonably could have arrived at Nicole's at 10:05 p.m., though not much earlier. Witnesses heard a dog, a young Akita owned by Nicole, begin barking in a mournful way as early as 10:15 to 10:20 p.m. The dog left Nicole's property and wandered around the neighborhood. Eventually the dog succeeded in leading a neighbor to the bodies. It is believed that at the time of the murders, which occurred outside, the dog was half-asleep on the second floor of Nicole's condo and only went to look for her after about five minutes of failing to notice sounds indicating her presence. Sydney and Justin were found asleep on the second floor of the condo following the discovery of the murders at 12:13 a.m. At trial, O.J.'s defense tried to dispute the early dog barking evidence and argued the murders occurred as late as 10:45 p.m.

The prosecution argued that O.J. used his Ford Bronco to travel to Nicole's, commit the murders, then return home. However, Rosa Lopez, a Salvadorian housekeeper for O.J.'s neighbors to the south, testified on videotape that at 10 p.m. she stopped watching television to put water on the stove for tea. When she was done, she put a dog on a leash and took him out for a few minutes. While outside she noticed that O.J.'s Bronco was parked near his home. Lopez's testimony, if true, meant that it was unlikely that O.J. could have committed the murders before other witnesses began hearing the wailing barks of Nicole's dog.

O.J. was scheduled to take an airline flight to Chicago that night which departed L.A. Airport at 11:45 p.m. The flight was scheduled long in advance. O.J. had just flew into town two days before. A limousine driver, Allan Park, was scheduled to pick up O.J. at 10:45 p.m. and take him to the airport. Park arrived at O.J.'s estate around 10:25 p.m. While driving around the estate, he failed to notice the presence of O.J.'s Bronco.

Evidence indicated that O.J. subsequently parked his Bronco on the street outside his estate and entered his property at 10:45 p.m. In an apparent attempt to avoid being seen by the limousine driver, evidence suggests O.J. banged three times on the back wall of the guest house in an attempt to summon Kato. Kato, however, was in the middle of a phone conversation and did not immediately respond. At 10:55 p.m., Kato came out, and soon afterwards the limousine driver said he saw a shadowy man cross O.J.'s driveway and enter the house. Although Kato was twice as close to the shadowy man as the driver, he never reported seeing the man and proceeded in a direction that indicated he did not see the man. Thirty seconds after the alleged man entered the house, O.J. answered the limousine driver on the intercom and remotely opened the driveway gate, allowing him entry. At this time Kato noticed that all of O.J.'s travel luggage was on the front porch. The luggage had not been there when he left O.J. at 9:40 p.m. Kato helped the limousine driver load the luggage. O.J. came out of the house in clean clothes by 11:05 p.m. and left in the limousine by 11:10 p.m. It was alleged that O.J. hand carried a small bag containing shoes he wore to the murder scene and threw it out the window on his way to the airport.

The murders were very bloody as the victims were stabbed to death. The killer would have been dripping with blood. Prosecutor Marsha Clark gave a statement that O.J.'s Ford Bronco was full of blood, but the amount of blood found in the Bronco was so small that it could fit on one's thumbnail. Eight small blood stains were found outside O.J.'s home. Blood was also found on a sock in O.J.'s bedroom.

At trial the defense argued that much of the evidence implicating O.J. was planted. The most compelling evidence of planting seemed to be the blood that was found on the sock. This blood was found below the shoe line and it soaked through the sock to the inside of the opposite side of the sock. However, if O.J. had been to the murder scene, the evidence had a reasonable explanation. If in removing his bloody shoes O.J. stuck one shoe against the other to remove the first shoe, blood from the second shoe could easily have transferred onto the sock associated with the first shoe. The transferred blood would have been wet enough to soak through the sock if O.J. removed his socks within minutes of taking off his shoes.

Usually evidence is not planted before investigators gather initial evidence from relevant locations and come to a conclusion that they need more evidence to convict. In O.J.'s case, the planting is alleged to have occurred before much of the the initial evidence was gathered. Even if some evidence was planted, it seems unreasonable to believe the bulk of the it was. Footprints at the murder scene were determined to have been made with Bruno Magli shoes, Lorenzo style, size 12. Since only 300 pairs of these size 12 Lorenzo style shoes were ever sold, and a photo shows O.J. wearing one of these pairs, the implication was that O.J. was at the murder scene.

The case evidence indicated that O.J. had been at the scene of the murders about 10:35 p.m. In addition, footprints at the scene indicated that he had stepped in pools of the victims' blood that had been drying for about 20 minutes after the blood had been deposited. If O.J. had committed the murders, no one could explain why he remained at the murder scene for an additional 20 minutes, although some allege that he returned to the scene to retrieve incriminatory items left behind.

Goldman had bruises on his knuckles indicating that he had pummeled his assailant, but when O.J. was examined the day after the murders, he had no noticeable cuts or bruises on him except for a cut on a finger. A bloody left hand glove was found at the scene of the murders and a corresponding right-hand glove was found on O.J.'s property. The prosecution argued that the killer had worn these gloves in committing the murders, but the gloves were undamaged, indicating that O.J. was not wearing them when he cut his finger.

To enter Nicole's property, a visitor had to buzz her on an outside intercom. Nicole then had to go to her front gate to unlatch it as the remote mechanism to unlatch it was broken. Nicole was killed just inside her front gate. Blood deposits indicated Goldman was killed just outside the front gate. His body was then thrown into an alcove just inside the gate, apparently to hide it from any passers-by. The easiest explanation for this evidence is that Nicole opened the front gate for the killer, who then assaulted her into unconsciousness. Then, surprised by Goldman's arrival, the killer turned around, took out his knife and murdered him. The killer then must have used his knife on the prostrate Nicole to cut her throat to make sure she died.

Blood drops, apparently from O.J.'s cut finger and from his shoes indicated O.J. entered and left Nicole's property not by the front gate, but by the back gate. A blood deposit on the back gate indicated O.J. cut his finger there by climbing over it to gain entry. It is believed he was holding a pair of gloves at the time and used one of them to soak up the blood from his cut finger. O.J. had keys to Nicole's gates, as police later found them at his house, but the evidence indicates O.J. did not bring them.

At trial the prosecution argued that O.J. killed Nicole in a jealous rage as he had a history of physically abusing her. O.J.'s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, responded that only a tiny fraction of women who are abused by their mates are murdered. Past incidents showed that O.J. had only been abusive at times when he was drinking. Thus he could only be characterized as a “mean drunk,” a not uncommon characteristic among drinking people. It is perhaps noteworthy that neither Kato, nor the limousine driver, nor anyone else provided any evidence that O.J. was drinking the night of the murders. Also, if O.J. had been intoxicated, it would have impaired his ability to commit the murders, especially the killing of Goldman.

Secondly, evidence makes it difficult to believe that O.J. harbored any intense jealousy in regard to Nicole. O.J. had divorced her two years earlier and was dating other women at the time of the murders. Also, he was aware without apparent anger that Nicole had sex with other men. One time when Nicole was dating Keith Zlomsowitch, a part-owner of the Mezzaluna restaurant, the two engaged in oral sex in Nicole's living room. O.J. happened to see them from the street outside. He did not confront them then, but the next day he told Keith he did not think such activities were proper with his children sleeping in the house at the time.

After O.J.'s arrest, private investigator William Dear began investigating the murders. L.A. County led the public to believe that no one could have committed the murders but O.J. However, Dear found that the alibi for O.J.'s oldest son, Jason Lamar Simpson was lacking. Jason was cleared as a suspect by the LAPD because according to them he had an airtight alibi as he was cooking for 200 people at the time of the murders. Jason, then age 24, had worked as a chef at a restaurant named Jackson's in Beverly Hills on the night of the murders. It was relatively small and could only hold about 80 to 90 people, not 200. A longtime restaurant employee, Carlos Ramos, stated that Jason left the restaurant about 9:30 p.m. on the night of the murders. Thus Jason's alibi that he had been cooking for 200 people at the time of the murders was false.

According to Ramos, Jason's girlfriend Jennifer Green picked up Jason from work in Jason's Jeep and that Jason always left with his own chef's knives. He also said there a problem between Jason and his girlfriend and that Jason appeared to be upset. According to the LAPD detective division, Jason “refused to cooperate and was represented by counsel. So he was never, in fact, interviewed.” Despite Jason not being a suspect, on the day after the murders O.J. hired him a high-profile criminal defense attorney named Carl Jones who specialized in death penalty cases. Jason had been in a psychiatric hospital just 6 months prior to the murders. His medical records indicated that he had frequently used drugs starting at age 14, had seizures, and a depression. Jason had attempted suicide three times. Jason's 23-month-old sister, Aaren, fell into a swimming pool and drowned when Jason was 10 years old and he was supposed to be watching her. At the time of the murders, Jason was on probation for allegedly assaulting his former employer, Paul Goldberg, with a knife.

Just weeks prior to the murders, Jason checked into the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and reported that he was out of his medication Depakote and was about to rage. Depakote is used to prevent seizures and to control mood swings in bipolar disorder. Also, less than two months before the murders, Jason had attacked Jennifer Green. The story was on the front cover of the National Enquirer four months after the murders. In it Green was quoted as saying, “I couldn't breath. I thought he was going to strangle me to death.”

According to Jason's former girlfriend, Dee Dee Burnett, Jason had attacked her twice during their relationship and she had seen him attack Jennifer on a different occasion than that reported in the Enquirer. Weeks before the murders Dee Dee talked to Jason at his new apartment in Venice Beach. She asked him if he was still taking his Depakote. She said Jason replied, “I stopped taking that stuff; it was making me sick.”

According to a deposition given by Jason for O.J.'s civil trial, Jason said that on the Friday or Saturday before the murders, Nicole made plans with him to have the entire Simpson family eat dinner at Jackson's after the recital that occurred on the day of the murders. Jason could not attend the recital as he had to work. This planned dinner would be the first time Jason would cook for the entire family at a restaurant.

However, when Jason called Nicole on the day of the murders to find out how many were coming, whether there should be a fixed menu, etc., Jason said Nicole told him, “She didn't think that they were gonna be swinging by Jackson's because it was just too expensive, and the kids, by the time they got way out there, they're gonna be all restless, and by the – you know, ‘We're just gonna have dinner up the street.’” The restaurant where they went, Mezzaluna, was not any less expensive than Jackson's. Also Nicole's dispute with O.J. appeared to be the reason for the changed plans. Since O.J. was disinvited to the recital dinner, there would be little reason to have the dinner at Jason's restaurant, as Jason was O.J.'s son but not Nicole's.

Jason admitted feeling disappointed by Nicole's change of plans. Given that he had stopped taking medicine to control his moods, he could have been excessively elated that he had the opportunity to cook for the entire family, then excessively let down by Nicole's change of plans. With Jason's rage disorder, the disappointment could be viewed as a motive for him to visit Nicole after he got off work to express his displeasure. Nicole may have laughed at him or slapped him or Ron Goldman may have arrived and tried to subdue him. Whatever is the case, the situation escalated into murder. Jason's assaults on his girlfriends indicated that he did not like women to lie to him.

Ronald Goldman died after receiving 27 stab wounds from a small knife. He was trained in the field of karate. Jason was trained in hand to hand combat including knife fighting when he was a cadet in the Army and Navy Academy. O.J. had no known knife training. Jason was also known to carry a knife, either on his side or in his boot, as well as keeping his chef's knives under the driver's seat of his car.

Evidence suggests that after Jason committed the murders and realized what he had done, he called his father, believing O.J. would know what to do. O.J. went to Nicole's and examined the scene, presumably to ascertain what had happened and that none of his young children were hurt. While there he apparently touched Nicole's body and looked closely at Goldman in an attempt to determine who he was, but then left the scene. According to a hearsay account, O.J. was horrified at what he saw: A friend of Kato later told the press that Kato told him that O.J. was shaking uncontrollably when he was getting in the limousine for his ride to the airport.

Besides the bloody glove, a knit cap was found at the scene of the murders. This cap, sometimes called a watch cap, presumably came from the assailant. There exists numerous photos of Jason wearing a knit cap. However, during his investigation, William Dear could not locate any photo of O.J. in which O.J. wore a knit cap.

Jason's girlfriend, Jennifer Green confirmed Carlos Ramos's statement that she picked up Jason at Jackson's restaurant and said Jason punched out on his timecard at 9:45 p.m. She said Jason drove and they went to her place where Jason stayed with her until after 11 p.m. However, in his civil deposition, Jason said he just dropped Green off and went to his apartment. Given the distances involved, if Jason left work at 9:45 p.m., he could have dropped Green off at 9:50 p.m. and arrived at Nicole's by 10:10 p.m.

Jason said his phone rang several times after 3 a.m., but that he did not answer it. Such behavior raises suspicion that he was not home when the calls came in. He then got a phone call at about 6 a.m. from his mother, Marguerite. He immediately left and went to his mother's house, but first stopped at Green's house. Jason's stop at Green's house raises suspicion that he asked her for an alibi. In deposition testimony, Jason indicated that he stopped at Green's for no reason other than his being nervous or upset.

When Jason's timecard was located by a part-owner of Jackson's, it had Jason's work hours penciled-in on the first work day he worked during the pay period. Since Jackson's had a working time clock, the penciling in of work hours suggested Jason destroyed his initial timecard to give himself an alibi of working till 10:30 p.m. Although it is not clear from looking at the timecard, the part-owner felt the penciled-in day referred to Sunday, June 12, the day of the murders. If Jackson's had a weekly pay-period as would seem likely, the penciled-in hours would appear to refer to Monday, June 13, the day after the murders as the timecard was for the pay period ending on June 19. Nevertheless, if Jason had in the prior week only worked on Sunday, he could destroy his timecard for that week and collect full pay by adding Sunday's hours to the following week. Presumably the part-owner could not locate Jason's timecard for the prior week.

According to the book Raging Heart by Sheila Weber, when O.J. arrived at the funeral home for Nicole's funeral, he had his arm around his oldest daughter Arnelle, and behind them were Jason and Jennifer Green. As the foursome approached Nicole's casket, Jason suddenly turned and bolted. He ran out of the funeral home and jumped into the front seat of the hearse. O.J. and Nicole's mother tried to coax him out, but he refused to view the body. Perhaps Nicole's body upset him because he had murdered her. O.J. had sat for several hours with Nicole's body the night before.

Observers often saw Jason put the canvas top down on his Jeep when it rained, but then put the top back up following the rain. This unusual behavior suggests Jason was trying to wash away blood stains. Dear managed to buy Jason's Jeep in 2003. The center console had been cut open and a piece of foam had been removed. When tested with luminol, a technician found seven hotspots in the Jeep where blood presumably had been, but the technician doubted any actual blood would be found 9 years after the murders.

Dear tried to interest the authorities in the evidence he accumulated as it was more than enough to merit an indictment of Jason. However, the authorities were completely disinterested and would not even meet with him. Jason's rage disorder suggests that he is legally not guilty of the murders by reason of insanity, but one would typically expect a prosecutor to bring an individual like Jason to trial in an attempt to prove otherwise.

Dear published a book in 2000 about the new evidence entitled O.J. is Guilty, But Not of Murder. In 2009, Dear produced an 80-minute documentary video sharing the same title, but subtitled The Overlooked Suspect. One caveat about Dear is that he believes Jason entered Nicole's property by the rear and knocked on her door. Also he believes Goldman was killed in the alcove where his body was found. The evidence does not appear to support these views. A website Wagner and Son appears to give the most intelligent analysis of case details even though the non-updated site gives an unlikely conspiracy scenario in an attempt to explain how O.J. visited the scene of the murders, but was not himself the killer. Besides the book by Dear, there are numerous other books written about the murders, probably more than on any other murder case.  [7/09]


References:  The Overlooked Suspect, www.theoverlookedsuspect.com, O.J. Confidential, Wagner and Son, Trial Transcripts

Posted in:  Victims of the State, Los Angeles Cases, Favorite Case Stories, Failed to Report Body