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Twenty years after infamous Bronco chase, O.J. Simpson still a mystery
June 13, 2014 5:44 PM   Subscribe

Simpson is in Lovelock because he was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery in Nevada in 2008; he's serving a sentence of up to 33 years, with the possibility of parole in 2017. He will turn 67 next month, but the O.J. personage who remains a cultural touchstone is much younger. That one was born 20 years ago this week, on June 17, 1994, a day that spawned a series of events that are as ingrained in Americana as anything that happened at Valley Forge or in Dealey Plaza. Sports Illustrated tackles Orenthal James Simpson.
posted by porn in the woods (140 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
OJ Simpson, the man who was both framed, and guilty.

I actually knew someone who testified at his murder trial. Said he was a charming, charismatic man, even when only meeting him in the trial as a witness, but also based on the evidence they testified to, guilty.

I remember being in a bar with friends when the whole "chase" happened. It was so surreal to see. Afterwards the whole circus surrounding the trial, and the "dream team" of lawyers was absurd. Proved to me that justice wasn't about race, but about money. If he had more money, he wouldn't be in prison now, I'm convinced of that.
posted by Eekacat at 6:10 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


um, no, o.j. is not a mystery, and valley forge and dealey plaza loom a teeny bit larger in significance. o.j. was guilty of two murders, and the state tanked the case. they were obviously treating him with kid gloves, from the initial decision to hold the trial downtown instead of on the west side, where they had venue and would have gotten a better jury, to the mysterious selection of two japanese-american judges in a row to hear the criminal case and the civil case, including the incompetent lance ito, the same judge who fucked up the charles keating trial. judge fujisake did a much better job during his turn.

i vowed that i would never read a book about this case, and when i broke the vow to read marcia clark's book, i was appalled. she had absolutely no business trying this case. toward the end when facts emerged about judge ito's wife peggy york, the lapd captain, and the possibility of a mistrial emerged, ms. clark held off on the motion because she didn't want to torpedo judge ito's career. a good prosecutor would have recognized that his first duty is to obtain justice for the victims and their families.

o.j. simpson believed that he was above the law, that he could open the necks of two people and the system wouldn't convict him, nicole simpson predicted this while she was alive, and SHE WAS RIGHT. this emboldened o.j. to go to nevada for the hotel room stickup, and he discovered an interesting fact about nevada. IT IS A MUCH DIFFERENT PLACE FROM CALIFORNIA. they don't take this kind of shit in the silver state. what happens in vegas stays at high desert correctional. i hope he rots there.
posted by bruce at 6:10 PM on June 13 [36 favorites]


OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife, which she predicted, and got away with it because the prosecution fucked up but good, and because we live in a culture that prizes men over women; to him, she was not only disposable but his property to do with as he wished.

Plus it's my feeling they don't like convicting celebs of actual serious crimes much in LA.

Rot in hell.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:21 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


OJ was both criminal and evidence. An unnecessarily framed guilty man whose case stripped off any remaining credibility of all parts of the US judicial system EXCEPT for the jurors. All the efups were lawyer/police/government official based. the jury did the right thing in the narrow, but important sense, of not convicting a framed guilty man because the frame made it not quite sure. This was a case where the cops, judge, and prosecutors should have been jailed.
posted by SteveLaudig at 6:22 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


to the mysterious selection of two japanese-american judges in a row

?
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:24 PM on June 13 [47 favorites]


lance ito (bad judge) for the criminal case, hiroshi fujisake (good judge) for the civil case. i wish it had been the other way around. judges are supposed to be assigned at random, and nobody can tell me that this was random. a racial compromise helped free a double murderer.
posted by bruce at 6:27 PM on June 13


That's some weird paranoid conspiracy stuff, bruce.
posted by Justinian at 6:29 PM on June 13 [79 favorites]


and nobody can tell me that this was random. a racial compromise helped free a double murderer

That's... a really huge statement to be making without a whole lot of evidence backing it up.

I'm also struggling to understand who, other than OJ and his defence team, wanted him to go free.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:29 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


Once you're in the Hertz family you stay in the Hertz family.
posted by Bromius at 6:41 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


i don't mind being called a weird paranoid conspiracy guy, one thing i've learned is that my imagination is actually insufficient to keep up with the ongoing conspiracies.

fffm, the others (besides o.j. and his defense team) didn't want him to go free so much as protect their image. they knew (correctly) that a black judge or a white judge would eventually be accused of bringing race into his/her adjudication. i believe that they pre-emptively forestalled this with a compromise. nevada doesn't think like this, so judge jackie glass (a white woman, afaik) presided over an adjudication which would be bulletproof on appeal (good job, your honor).
posted by bruce at 6:41 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


feckless fecal fear mongering: "and nobody can tell me that this was random. a racial compromise helped free a double murderer

That's... a really huge statement to be making without a whole lot of evidence backing it up.

I'm also struggling to understand who, other than OJ and his defence team, wanted him to go free.
"

Don't forget that this was not too long after the LA South Central riots. I remember many people at the time feared that there would be riots again if he were to be convicted.

Finding him not guilty and letting him go free was the right thing to do, regardless of his actual guilt, because he was denied anything close to a fair trial.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:44 PM on June 13


nobody can tell me that this was random. a racial compromise helped free a double murderer.

well, thanks for reminding us this is all about race, buddy. gross.
posted by mwhybark at 6:45 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife, which she predicted, and got away with it because the prosecution fucked up but good, and because we live in a culture that prizes men over women; to him, she was not only disposable but his property to do with as he wished.

Well, and because the LAPD then (and now) sees institutional and personal racism as the basis of good policing rather than a serious problem. I know plenty of people who feel that Simpson was railroaded twice over -- in the murder trial and then in civil court -- and only beat an unfair system one of those times. I think they're wrong, but I can understand why they hold that opinion given both the perjury of Mark Furhman and the broader evidence of systematic racial bias in American justice.

I shed no tears for Simpson in his prison cell, but that case was a perfect storm of just about everything wrong in the social structure of Los Angeles (and to an extent, the US): the aforementioned misogyny and class issues plus racial bias, all of which meant that no matter what the result of that trial had been, "justice" would still be a hard word to use for it.
posted by kewb at 6:45 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


well, thanks for reminding us this is all about race, buddy. gross.

I disagree with bruce about the judges but race was inseparable from the OJ Simpson trial.
posted by Justinian at 6:47 PM on June 13 [33 favorites]


I feel completely neutral about this case and don't have an opinion one way or another. One thing though, the Bronco chase began while I was in a car myself and I was riveted by the drama on the car radio. Then I got home and went to a local bar to watch the TV coverage (no tube in the house) and observed that the same chase was boring on TV.
posted by telstar at 6:47 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


lance ito (bad judge) for the criminal case, hiroshi fujisake (good judge) for the civil case. i wish it had been the other way around. judges are supposed to be assigned at random, and nobody can tell me that this was random. a racial compromise helped free a double murderer.

..

the others (besides o.j. and his defense team) didn't want him to go free so much as protect their image. they knew (correctly) that a black judge or a white judge would eventually be accused of bringing race into his/her adjudication. i believe that they pre-emptively forestalled this with a compromise.


So the judge assignment is supposed to be random, but the D.A. illegally secured a specific judge, which I'm guessing is at least a misdemeanor, in order to protect their public image from allegations of bias (which hadn't been made yet) resulting from the judge's race? And then a different legal team, which was not affiliated with the state, somehow did that same thing, unaccountably for the same reason, with a man of the same ostensibly-neutral race?
posted by clockzero at 6:49 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


20 years ago, a white bronco rolled out of L.A. and into our hearts.
posted by Renoroc at 6:53 PM on June 13 [18 favorites]


Just to be clear re: my comment above. Yes, there were huge racial tensions in the murder case, but I think that the idea that a Japanese-American judge was hand picked is like moon-landing-denier level conspiracy theory.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:55 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


I remember having all these arguments back when the murders actually happened. This is a very weird form of nostalgia.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 PM on June 13 [14 favorites]


One thing though, the Bronco chase began while I was in a car myself and I was riveted by the drama on the car radio. Then I got home and went to a local bar to watch the TV coverage (no tube in the house) and observed that the same chase was boring on TV.

So boring! I remember this night very clearly; we were at the Jersey Shore with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins; it was just after dinner so it was time to go the BOARDWALK! Treats, shopping, rides! Yay! But none of the adults could tear themselves away from the damn TV! And for WHAT? A slow moving car chase! The agony.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:00 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


OJ walked, guilty or innocent, because he had rich white man levels of cash to spend on his defense...
posted by jim in austin at 7:01 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


He did it and then he was framed - poorly. He had money and his lawyers prevailed in voir dire and overmatched the prosecution lawyers.

The reason that OJ Simpson is in jail now, for a disproportionately long time given the crime he was convicted of, is because the Clark County DA has political ambitions.
posted by vapidave at 7:01 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


events that are as ingrained in Americana as anything that happened at Valley Forge or in Dealey Plaza, and that changed everything!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:02 PM on June 13


But none of the adults could tear themselves away from the damn TV! And for WHAT? A slow moving car chase! The agony.

My memories of it are similar, but lengthier - my grandmother was absolutely obsessed with the trial, and watched the whole thing. It was intolerable, going anywhere near the TV at the time.
posted by mordax at 7:03 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


[bruce, probably best to step away from this thread at this point]
posted by mathowie at 7:04 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


OJ walked, guilty or innocent, because he had rich white man levels of cash to spend on his defense...

OJ walked because he wasn't convicted. The case against him was a pile a shit. That's how the system works, and it's a good thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:04 PM on June 13 [15 favorites]


The fact that the vast majority of people don't understand conditional probability is also at the root of the original verdict. [PDF link]
posted by King Bee at 7:09 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


sorry mathowie, you're right, happy moderators day, off to look at cat pictures.
posted by bruce at 7:09 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


OJ walked because he wasn't convicted. The case against him was a pile a shit. That's how the system works, and it's a good thing.

If OJ had come to trial with a public defender he would be on death row. Or in the ground...
posted by jim in austin at 7:09 PM on June 13 [13 favorites]


"The case against him was a pile a shit."

Perhaps the criminal case, owing [IMO] to his being framed by Fuhrman and his ilk but you do of couse know OJ lost the civil case brought against him.
posted by vapidave at 7:11 PM on June 13


The criminal case is what I am referring to, yes. One does not generally go to prison as a result of a civil trial.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:13 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


He didn't go to prison as a result of the murder of which he was accused and acquitted. He went to prison for this.
posted by vapidave at 7:20 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I guess maybe I don't understand what you're talking about because what does that have to do with what I said
posted by shakespeherian at 7:25 PM on June 13


Never was the metaphor "miscarriage of justice" more apt. In every possible sense.

Also, it's been two decades and we're still talking about the murderer, not his victim. Shame.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:37 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


I worked on the 41st floor of a corporate building during the trial. I was surrounded by educated money people. A television was installed in a large conference room to watch the verdict. A few minutes before the verdict was read, about 40 or so people gathered, and this 60 something, nice, seemingly grounded lady-friend walked up to me and said, "I think he's innocent. I hope he's found not-guilty."
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:40 PM on June 13


Ugh, OJ, I remember watching that on TV. And Polly Klaas. I always felt so much for her. Not so much for OJ.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:40 PM on June 13


Had OJ been a poor back man in similar circumstances, I suspect Fuhrman's fame would have stuck just fine, and no one would be the wiser about the problems in the LAPD labs. For Fuhrman especially, it looked like this wasn't his first time finding evidence behind a garage.
posted by bonehead at 7:44 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Oh and Clarence Thomas. That was on the news as well. What a great time.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:44 PM on June 13


Clarence Thomas was a bit before that, around the time of the riots in LA. Interesting youth many of us had.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:46 PM on June 13


What a great time.
Wasn't the economy booming? Not busting your balls, but it seemed like that was right about the time that people were leaving good jobs for better ones. Maybe I'm off a couple of years.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:47 PM on June 13


Uraniumwilly, as a comparison, those I worked with (editorial staff at a music industry magazine in NYC) were stunned by the verdict. About a half dozen of us stood in the managing editor's office, watching the TV. A dreadful moment.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:59 PM on June 13


Also, it's been two decades and we're still talking about the murderer, not his victim. Shame.

Um, the crime claimed two victims' lives.

I'll leave the shame part up to you. Do or don't.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:11 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I don't know much about the trial, since I was about 5 years old when it happened and all I recall about it is reading the headlines on the National Enquirer while I waited by the conveyor belt in Wegmans with my mom. But it's interesting to me to read all these comments that are so certain O.J. did it, because in discussing the case with my similarly-aged peers, we all (again, with little-to-no contemporaneous awareness of the event -- which, as the FPP says, is vaguely part of Americana now) seem to think that he was framed, but rightly held to be not guilty.

Again, these are the opinions of a dozen or so underinformed Millenials. We know how much you love them. But clearly I have some reading to do.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 8:17 PM on June 13


This whole thing was painfully embarrassing to watch unfold. Besides all the obvious stuff, I hated that it was even (and still is) called a car chase. That was an escort. I especially hated the whole nursery rhyme defense slogan "if the glove does not fit, you must acquit." That glove looked like a perfect fit. Nobody puts a glove on with their fingers outstretched. But people lapped it up. Like so many Fox newsy catchphrases, making a semi-clever sing-song device does not make something true.
posted by hypersloth at 8:18 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


The popular conspiracy now is that OJ's son did it, OJ covered for him, implicated himself in a crime he didn't commit. And then, preumably thinking he was guilty, the cops tampered with the evidence to make a better case against OJ, accidentally creating a conspiracy to divert attention away from the son while deliberately creating a conspiracy to railroad OJ, who was not guilty of murder, but instead guilty of aiding and abetting a murder after the fact, which he wasn't charged with and nobody suspected him of until now.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:21 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]



20 years ago, a white bronco rolled out of L.A. and into our hearts.


it missed my heart completely but not my brain.

I hated the whole circus from beginning to end, never read anything about it or intentionally watched any of it on TV, but it was still unavoidable, people getting into ridiculous arguments at parties, rooms being divided, friends falling out ...

And when the verdict came down, I said, "Yay!" Not because I wanted some thug to get away with murdering his wife, but because I knew it would deeply piss off people I knew who were over-invested in the thing to the point of psychosis. How psychotic? I almost got beaten up for saying, "Yay!" It was small town British Columbia. I was touring with a band and we were having breakfast in a little cafe, everybody a little hungover. I'm guessing if it wasn't early in the morning, I probably would've gotten pounded.

We couldn't get out of town quick enough.
posted by philip-random at 8:22 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I see no reason to talk about this man again.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:25 PM on June 13 [26 favorites]


The popular conspiracy now is that OJ's son did it

When I heard about this theory last year, my head kind of spun. I just always assumed he was guilty from the start, after most of the evidence had been presented. Then I read one of those detailed accounts speculating that it was his son, and it just answers a lot of questions.
posted by cashman at 8:25 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


It has been 20 years so my recollection could be all wrong, but I recall what made the Bronco chase so riveting was the reports that he had a suitcase full of cash, was heading to Mexico and might even commit suicide if caught all on national tv.
posted by 724A at 8:26 PM on June 13


What I remember about the O.J. Simpson trial is this: I was working in a mostly black high school at the time, and when the acquittal was announced, a vast cheer arose in the whole school. Was race involved, well, duh. Was money and celebrity involved? Again, duh. A sad event, however you view it. And his book? Not just sad: strange beyond belief. If…?
posted by kozad at 8:30 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Chances are high that OJ was guilty of the crime but the prosecution completely bungled the case and OJ's defense lawyers proceeded to school them. Yeah if he was a poor black man he'd certainly be convicted because he'd never have a competent set of defense lawyers but maybe that says more about the state of race and class within our legal system where the color of your skin or the wealth in your bank account can lead to differential outcomes in cases.

I understand being mad at idea that a likely murderer got away with it but our system is predicated on the assumption of innocence unless the state's case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt and the prosecution completely bottled the case. If you believe that it's better for a 100 guilty men to go free than 1 innocent man be falsely convicted then the outcome given the miscues by the prosecution was probably appropriate regardless of whether justice was ultimately served.
posted by vuron at 8:30 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Here's the article I saw initially looking at the possibility his son did it.
posted by cashman at 8:30 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


Nordberg will live on for generations.
posted by planetesimal at 8:31 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


a white bronco rolled out of L.A. and into our hearts.

The only white bronco in my heart is Maximus.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:32 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Uraniumwilly, as a comparison, those I worked with (editorial staff at a music industry magazine in NYC) were stunned by the verdict. About a half dozen of us stood in the managing editor's office, watching the TV. A dreadful moment.

And I'll never forget watching this in a college dorm rec room. The students (all white and Asian in that particular gathering) sat in stunned silence; the African American custodial staff members crowded in the doorway watching over our shoulders clapped and cheered.

I was ignorant until that moment of just how much the whole affair was about putting Furman, and the LAPD, on trial, as well (a brilliant defense move) for a lot of people--I think for many, it wasn't so much that O.J. won, but that a rotten from the core, racist department lost.
posted by blue suede stockings at 8:32 PM on June 13 [26 favorites]


I just remember Jay Leno introducing some schtick about a kick line of Dancing Judge Itos on his show at about that time and it was what made me start thinking "wow, Jay's kinda a dick."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 PM on June 13 [14 favorites]


OJ Simpson has a white Ford Bronco. And together they fight crime!
posted by scalefree at 8:34 PM on June 13


I remember reading that Ford Broncos started selling like hotcakes after the verdict. Everyone wanted a white one; there was a waiting list. Dealerships were raking in cash from the OJ Special.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:38 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


To me, the only mystery is why such an incredibly talented and charismatic person would be so tortured as to do something that violent after so many years of success.

For those who never got to watch OJ play just to know why he was such a revered player, here's probably his most famous play in a football uniform. Incredible talent. Fast, tough, amazing vision. Amazing quickness. A funny guy, charismatic, easily able to adapt to broadcasting and acting and selling ads after he left football. Was never seriously injured.

So why was he so violent? And why in the world would he commit another violent act after being acquitted?
posted by Old Man McKay at 8:38 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


The popular conspiracy now is that OJ's son did it

From your link:

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

PUBLISHED: 09:53 EST, 1 April 2012

posted by charlie don't surf at 8:49 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


The man played pro-football for 11 seasons as a running back. He probably has some serious brain damage from getting his head smashed play after play.
posted by humanfont at 8:51 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


"I guess maybe I don't understand what you're talking about because what does that have to do with what I said"

Sorry, I was sloppy. He had two trials and lost one. Preponderance and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt are of course different standards. Do you think the civil case against him was incorrectly decided?
posted by vapidave at 8:52 PM on June 13


I remember this night very clearly; we were at the Jersey Shore with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins

I was camping off in the woods as a cub scout. Coincidentally, I had convinced my dad to bring along a tiny portable black and white television set just for the sheer novelty of having it while in the middle of the woods. Most of my memories are of darting from the campfire back to the tent every so often to catch a glimpse of the unfolding events on fuzzy monochrome 3" screen.

Also, OJ's later acquittal is also the exact moment of my childhood when the Naked Gun movies ceased to be funny.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:56 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Yeah, OJ is proof that crime novels set in L.A. aren't novel enough. Racist cops doing their best to frame a man who is so obviously guilty it would take a racist cop trying to frame him to get him off the hook... plus Jay Leno's "Judge Ito Dancers". Ito decided to open up the proceedings, and was pinned like an insect specimen by the national spotlight. He was helpless to stop the stupid coming from either side of the courtroom.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:57 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


A few years ago, I was working in a Manhattan office with a vile human being. Somehow the subject of OJ came up and said vile human crowed, "I know he did it! But damn! It's about time a black man got away with killing a white woman!"

No, that case had nothing to do with race. Nothing at all. (Do I need a sarcasm tag here?)
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 8:58 PM on June 13


I actually find the various theories and positions in this thread really interesting. There's a variety. And everyone seems to think that their theory is the one based in reality.

I don't really know what my point is, except that even 20 years later, it's still a really weird story with a lot of different angles.

I remember having the TV on when the verdict was going to be announced. There was this kind of undercurrent of "If he's found guilty, all hell will break loose in South Central," juxtaposed with an air of "of course he's going to be found guilty; he obviously did it."

20 years later, not much has changed.

I think that gives the SI writer's point about Valley Forge and Dealey Plaza a little bit of credence. (Okay, Valley Forge maybe not so much. But Dealey Plaza, totally. )
posted by mudpuppie at 9:02 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I was a student at a majority white middle school when the verdict was announced; kids cheered. Kids are dumb.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:05 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I'm curious---those who think he was framed (though guilty), did you watch the trial at the time or is this opinion formed after further revelations about Fuhrman and others?
posted by etaoin at 9:15 PM on June 13


By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

PUBLISHED: 09:53 EST, 1 April 2012


Coincidence of the date aside, William Dear and his theory are very real.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:16 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


The one thing I remember from the trial was Judge Ito's ubiquitous IBM Thinkpad laptop. It seemed to always be on camera throughout the trial.
IBM even had it modified so the logo would be readable with the screen up, instead of the normal inverted orientation.

I'm curious---those who think he was framed (though guilty), did you watch the trial at the time or is this opinion formed after further revelations about Fuhrman and others?

The case was a mess of incompetence on the part of the police and prosecution. I think the LAPD were so used to trials against black men being slam dunks they got sloppy and dispensed with proper procedures.

I think he was guilty but I also think the not guilty verdict was the correct one for this case.
posted by rocket88 at 9:23 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I was young enough when this happened that I remember Ito and the chase and Kato and the glove and so on, but I had no understanding of the legal system to even begin to form an opinion of what took place. I've read a few things off and on but 20 years later it still seems so polarizing I have no clue who is right.

But I do remember my school hosting a drama festival each year where all the local rural elementary schools came to compete and one school decided to act out "the trial of the century". It was weird then and it's weirder now when I have more context. Someone died. Middle schoolers did backflips. For drama.
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:35 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


Here's the article I saw initially looking at the possibility his son did it.

just as an fyi this article features postmortem photos of both victims
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


This was the major topic when I first got online, these are mostly the same comments I read (or wrote, though I had no idea about a lot of the nuance then). I almost expect to see a little construction gif.
posted by jeather at 9:41 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


I'd never heard these theories about OJ's son before... it's incredibly interesting! (...still working my way through cashman's Business Insider link about the theory and the evidence behind it)
posted by Auden at 9:45 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


The OJ Simpson trail was the worst travesty; no one has ever trusted the media's over-coverage of a trial since.
posted by Catblack at 9:51 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


During the Ito judged trial someone wrote to the LA Times q&a column asking how the trial was being taught in law schools. The response was it was a prime example of how NOT to run a trial.
posted by brujita at 9:53 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I remember this mostly because it was the first week or so I was online -- ever.

Also I was meeting a friend in Oakland to go out to eat and instead we watched that dopey car chase.

I also remember my late brother and I flying out to NYC to attend the Letterman show and the guy who picked up us to go to the airport going on about how he thought the "Dancing Itos" and the bloody knife was funny (ugh) and when we got on the Airporter bus to go to JFK the verdict came in and the African American folks were delighted and the Caucasian folks were distraught.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:59 PM on June 13


Just for giggles here are the Top 5 Conspiracy Theories related to the case. But, those don't even cover my personal favorite tin foil hat theory; The Yakuza did it!
posted by gideonswann at 10:04 PM on June 13


OJ - Guilty as sin.
LAPD - Racist fucks who redefined racism in the late 20th century.
Prosecutors - Morons who couldn't find their ass in the dark if you shoved flashlight up there.
Judge Ito - so completely unprepared to be a circus ringleader.

I was really 23 when this happened ? It seems like.... I was older than that then. But yeah, that's the year my son was born.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:05 PM on June 13 [9 favorites]


By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

PUBLISHED: 09:53 EST, 1 April 2012

Coincidence of the date aside, William Dear and his theory are very real.


William Dear's movie :

The Overlooked Suspect : OJ is Guilt but not of murder

Makes a pretty decent case that there is at least a non-zero chance his son (by his first wife) Jason did it. In fact, if you look at the case with the idea that Jason did it, some of the crazy stuff OJ did makes more sense (very public, very slow car chase, etc...). It's worth a watch, it mostly convinced me. If someone told me I would be convinced by this before I watched the movie, I would have thought that person a moron (or thought that person thought I was a moron).
posted by ill3 at 10:16 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


SPOILERS from the movie accusing Jason Simpson of the murder below:



- They bought an old storage locker with photos of him in the same navy watch cap they thought OJ had on (in photos post murder the navy watch cap changes colors - ie it's new).
- They have journals of his from the storage locker saying that he himself thinks he is crazy and dangerous
- They found record of him being in mental institutions
- They invalidated his alibi for that night
- They found an ex-girlfriend that said he held her down and cut her hair off with a knife
- They found people that said he was sexually obsessed with Nicole
- They tracked down his jeep (the car he owned the night of the murder) and bought it and did blood testing on it and found a ton of blood.
posted by ill3 at 10:25 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


The OJ case was definitely a big deal.

When they announced they weren't going for the death penalty was the instant I became a hundred percent against capital punishment ever. If murdering the mother of your two young children isn't a capital crime, nothing is a capital crime.

I searched the SI article for cte and found 11 instances, but none was chronic traumatic encephelopathy. If and when OJ's brain autopsy shows his brain looks like a can of spaghetti-o's any mystery surrounding this case will go *poof*.

On the day of the acquittal one of my black co-workers told me "it is really stupid to try and frame a guilty man".

(humanfront already mentioned the football brain damage up there ^ )
posted by bukvich at 10:26 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I considered making a FPP on the son theory, mostly because I really would like to hear opposing views from people who have read it, really considered it, and then discarded the idea.

I am prone to getting sucked into theories that neatly resolve almost everything, so I can't really make up my mind. I think it makes all kinds of sense, but I also know I can be gullible.
posted by imabanana at 10:26 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


The OJ trial is the reason photography is banned in most court rooms.

As someone too young to have any meaningful opinion about the case, I feel like that's all you need to know. It was a media spectacle packaged for consumption, whatever actually happened is irrelevant.
posted by bradbane at 10:46 PM on June 13


The night of the Bronco chase I was meeting my college girlfriend's mom for the first time. I was really nervous - I had a tendency to be really awkward and bumbling around adults, was directionless enough to be ill-prepared to answer the inevitable "So, what do you plan on doing for a career after you graduate" questioning and was really desperately wanting to impress her since I was madly in love with her daughter who I was 100% sure would eventually become my wife (she didn't).

Honestly, it wasn't going so well. As I had (and still have) a tendency to do when I was nervous, I was low-talking really badly, to the point that the mom actually commented on it. This is probably in poor taste to admit, but when the car chase came on, and all three of us became glued to the TV, I was super relieved, knowing there was no longer any requirement that I speak.
posted by The Gooch at 10:52 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


The Jason Simpson theory criticized in the Village Voice.
posted by humanfont at 11:10 PM on June 13 [8 favorites]


They tracked down his jeep (the car he owned the night of the murder) and bought it and did blood testing on it and found a ton of blood

Come on, now. There was a trail of blood drops from the bodies to the street, blood in OJ's car, and a trail of blood drops from his car into his house. That was all discovered by the morning after the murders. OJ flew to Chicago the night of the murders. That doesn't leave much time for him to frame himself.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:16 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


The main thing I remember about this story is people being slackjawed that I had never heard of Simpson before. I'm not a sports fan, so I guess it hasn't had the same effect on me that it had on people who were more culturally aware.

The main non-murder association I have is NAKED GUN. A film that I suspect is pretty cathartic for people who don't like him.
posted by brundlefly at 11:27 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Ugh I totally forgot that TIME magazine deliberately made his skin darker on their cover story back then.

I feel like people who really think that race wasn't a huge enormous part of this case are either not old enough to remember what society was like in the early 90s, especially after the riots, or were living in some kind of highly racially isolated bubble of extreme whiteness. (or of course are not americans)
posted by elizardbits at 11:30 PM on June 13 [20 favorites]


If you want a theory that neatly resolves everything, you should go with "a guy who pled no contest to beating his wife, after multiple police calls to the house, went on to kill her." No matter what Dershowitz said about the likelihood a batterer will murder his victim, worldwide, 38% of murdered women are killed by their intimate partners. (Which jibes with that Nature paper about conditional probability King Bee linked.)
posted by gingerest at 11:35 PM on June 13 [18 favorites]


I mean I have very little doubt that he did it, but I have absolutely no doubt at all that the LAPD engaged in both deliberate malfeasance and gross incompetence wrt practically every single aspect of the case.
posted by elizardbits at 11:39 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Heh, The Gooch, my experience has some similarities. I was at a concert at Ravinia the night of the Bronco chase. It was a weird night for me -- my (female) crush had not shown up, and I was wandering around on my own to shake off the dejection when a guy came up and tried to cruise me. (I was dressed for the sliver of a possibility of romance, so maybe he thought I was cute?) Not the first time I've been mistakenly gaydared -- but he was persistent enough that when a hubbub of people over by a building were obviously no longer interested in the concert I used that as an excuse to get away from this guy. Turned out the guards inside the building were watching the chase live and so what happened was a continuous stream of people would show up, watch several (mostly dull) minutes, and then rush off to communicate the surrealism of it all to their own group. Eventually I did the same.

By the way, if anyone is particularly interested in the pop-culture media landscape aspects, I recommend the so-so dark comedy The Chase [trailer], which came out earlier that same year. Charlie Sheen and a decently interesting cast (including Henry Rollins, Flea, and Anthony Kiedis), and a mild fish-in-a-barrel satire of the folk anti-hero angle.
Also, the end credits have Charlie doing a parody of Apocalypse Now schtick that's worth the wait.

humanfont, thanks for posting that, as I was on the verge of not so much believing as being ready to say that was a plausible alternative theory. I have been in the Fuhrman-framed-a-guilty-man camp for years now.
posted by dhartung at 11:40 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


For sure, race was a huge part of the trial, the outcome, and of course the media circus. A racist sensationalist media (which reflected the interests of its audience) was delighted that the outcome of the marriage of a rich, handsome, talented black man and a beautiful thin blonde white woman was her violent death and the destruction of his reputation and career. He couldn't possibly have gotten a fair trial, especially not with that era's LAPD responsible for the evidence in his case.
posted by gingerest at 11:41 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


My dad and I heard the news helicopters and police sirens from our house. We lived right by the 91, and when we turned on the TV, we found out about the chase, and watched the entire thing unfold.

When the trial started, everyone at school made jokes about how Lance Ito looked like one of our math teachers. The question of his guilt never came up - we were from all over LA county, at a high school focused on getting more minorities into math and science, and we had seen the smoke from the LA Riots from our school - but we all just assumed he had done it.

When the verdict came in, I was at college in New Orleans, far away from Los Angeles. A group of us leaned into a dorm room with the TV focused on it. Everyone was stunned, and then I quickly went across campus to my Japanese class with the news. My teacher, an unbelievably polite and nice woman, said "With enough money, you can kill your wife." in this incredibly bitter tone that I had never heard from her.

A few years ago, I was playing Scattergories with some friends. I was supposed to describe a glove. I said "If it does not fit, you must acquit." No one got it, and I realised that I was in another country, with people all at least ten years younger than me.

It's bizarre how much OJ Simpson's trial was such a part of my life.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:07 AM on June 14 [10 favorites]


Empress: I realized Leno was a dick at at just about the same time.

I purposely didn't watch the trial. I was angry because there was so much important news at the time--Rwanda, Bosnia, Kobe even--and we were spending our time on stupid shit here in the US. And obsessively so. But it was impossible to avoid it completely of course. So I believed he was guilty. And when the verdict came back innocent, and African-Americans rejoiced, I was at first confused. I hadn't perceived how much that had become a referendum on racist police policies and on the racist LAPD in particular. I remember feeling really depressed about the lack of understanding between whites and African-Americans, again not realizing what had gone on trial with Fuhrman and co.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:38 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Speaking of Leno, I was surprised to find out in a thread recently that he was a liberal. I just figured that he was a conservative because he was so clearly an asshole.

dhartung: was it Jazz in June at Ravinia you were at? If so, I almost certainly was there, too.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:42 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Regardless of anything else; That was some good TV.
posted by wcfields at 2:12 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


This trial caused me to stop watching TV news and especially cable news for good.
posted by octothorpe at 3:33 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


The OJ trial is the reason photography is banned in most court rooms.

no, actually it was a fairly new idea at the time, as the tradition before then was it was unthinkable to have cameras in the courtroom

most courtrooms in my locality have them, but they are controlled by the court, not the media
posted by pyramid termite at 4:16 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


All I will add to this is, at the time of the verdict, the office I was working at called an all-hands meeting to watch the verdict be delivered on the big screen. I thought it was a bit macabre of them to do that.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:37 AM on June 14


We listened to the verdict come in during 6th grade math class over the school loudspeaker system. I remember first learning what DNA evidence was from Johnny Cochran.

About the chase itself--the (wonderful) 30 for 30 about the day of the chase emphasized that it seemed likely OJ was about to kill himself with a gun during the chase. A friend of his was in the car with him and kept telling police that OJ was crying, had a handgun, and was depressed.
posted by sallybrown at 6:34 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


But I do remember my school hosting a drama festival each year where all the local rural elementary schools came to compete and one school decided to act out "the trial of the century".

This used to mean, "They put on a production of 'Inherit the Wind.'"

The Scopes Monkey Trial was the original declared "Trial of the [20th] Century" and I'm still grumpy that it was displaced. (Oh, and I would give anything--anything--to see/hear the reaction of the ghost Clarence Darrow when he got the newsflash.)
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:35 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Oh and we also have the car chase to thank for the Rise of the Kardashians: Robert Kardashian held a press conference right before the chase began, announcing he had found a suicide note from OJ after OJ failed to turn himself in.
posted by sallybrown at 6:39 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]


So I would have been 15 when the chase happened, which was more than enough for 15-year-old me to believe that he was guilty--why would an innocent man run?

The verdict, when it came in, was during my OAC (took it a couple years early) Law class. We'd been studying the trial, contrasting and comparing how it would have played out in Canada. I will admit, the school I went to was very, very white--but the loudest gasps of shock in the room came from a black teacher and one of the only two black students in the school.

I agree with what was said above... framing a guilty man is just stupid stupid stupid, and had Fuhrman not done so, OJ would have been behind bars twenty years ago.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:49 AM on June 14


Vanity Fair covers the links between the Simpsons and the Kardashians.
posted by arcticseal at 6:57 AM on June 14


I'm still looking for someone who can say why they're convinced that the cops framed him--the blood trail from his car to his house? The glove? Which thing or things? I watched a documentary last night that mostly had a couple of cops blaming the DA, and the lawyers never want to talk about the case. If you base a huge chunk of your case on DA and you've got Barry Scheck challenging it, you're in trouble.
And about Kardashian--the look on his face while the verdict was being announced seems to make clear he thought OJ was guilty. I could be projecting, of course, but there's no joy there, just shock.
posted by etaoin at 6:58 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I read articles about OJ -- hell, articles about just about any high profile criminal case covered by the mass media -- and even a surprising number of comments in this thread, and am reminded again and again how most Americans do not actually believe in the basic legal tenet "innocent until proven guilty." Check your indignation and be glad corrupt law enforcement officers failed to frame a guilty man.
posted by aught at 7:02 AM on June 14


the links between the Simpsons and the Kardashians.

I was wondering how long it would take the thread to go here.
posted by aught at 7:03 AM on June 14


We are not in a court of law. "Innocent until proven guilty" is a legal term and is meaningless here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:05 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


I was home when the verdict was read and remember shaking for reasons I didn't understand. I'll never forget Robert Kardashian's expression. If they need a picture in the dictionary next to "Holy shit, he got away with it," that's the one.

Also, elizardbits, thanks for the heads-up about victim photos. Many years ago, I inadvertently saw a picture of Nicole Brown Simpson's nearly-decapitated head and have never been able to un-see it.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:09 AM on June 14


Also, elizardbits, thanks for the heads-up about victim photos. Many years ago, I inadvertently saw a picture of Nicole Brown Simpson's nearly-decapitated head and have never been able to un-see it.

I clicked through having forgotten the warning. If you're going to include victim photos, the two they used are probably the most tasteful possible (they're close ups of something specific). However, the article itself is not really an article but a listicle pushing the 'all mentally ill people are dangerous' line, so don't bother clicking.
posted by hoyland at 7:14 AM on June 14


he article itself is not really an article but a listicle pushing the 'all mentally ill people are dangerous'

I'm a mentally ill person and I hate that line as much as you do... but they did seem to make it pretty clear that he himself had indicated his rage problems and hearing voices, and the Depakote controlled that. Not all (indeed, not most) people with mental illness are dangerous, but it seems to me that he himself indicated that he was.

Totally get where you're coming from though.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:22 AM on June 14 [4 favorites]


All the people who claim OJ was "framed" are morons. The police did a fine job, and the evidence was overwhelming. Any five pieces of the 150 or so gathered should have been enough to convict him.

The defense team realized that the only way to argue the mountain of evidence was to unjustly crucify the officer who found it. So Fuhrman was sacrificed on the altar of racism to free a vicious killer.

I was riveted by the trial, downloaded and read all the transcripts, and there was NO WAY OJ was framed.

The clowns who freed him were Ito, Darden and Clarke. I could have delivered a better summation than the prosecution did, and I'm not a lawyer. I just paid attention to the evidence.
posted by Repack Rider at 7:50 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


All the people who claim OJ was "framed" are morons. The police did a fine job, and the evidence was overwhelming. Any five pieces of the 150 or so gathered should have been enough to convict him.

I swear I recently saw an article which stated that there was new evidence that Robert Kardashian hid the murder weapon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:01 AM on June 14


For my money, the best analysis of the trial and its outcome is The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, who still shows up as a legal analyst on various news shows. It's been a while since I've read it, but IIRC Toobin, while detailing the various mistakes made by the prosecution, basically said that the odds of getting a conviction from that jury were very low; this was the Los Angeles that had just a few years earlier seen four white cops acquitted for beating a black man even though it was caught on video.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:56 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, poor Mark Fuhrman, a good cop who always did the right thing, as we can read for ourselves:
Fuhrman gave a taped interview in 1985 to Laura McKinney, an aspiring screenwriter working on a screenplay about female police officers. Fuhrman bragged about his membership in the secret organization within the LAPD known as MAW, or Men Against Women. In further interviews, Fuhrman bragged about beating and torturing gang members, "we had them begging that they'd never be gang members again, begging us." Fuhrman's negative attitude toward African-Americans was also evident in the taped interview. He said that he would tell blacks, "You do what you're told, understand, n****r?"
Earlier in that same taped interview, he can be heard boasting, "Yeah we work with n*****s and gangs. You can take one of these n*****s, drag 'em into the alley and beat the shit out of them and kick them. You can see them twitch. It really relieves your tension." This was what the defense team played for the jury, and you can see exactly why it made the idea that Fuhrman would frame a minority defendant plausible.

Simpson is almost certainly guilty of the murders, but to present Fuhrman as some sort of undeserving victim is offensively stupid. Comments such as his should have ended his career in law enforcement; that this didn't happen until these comments damaged a major case says a lot about the culture of the LAPD, and it was this truth that the defense used and that the prosecution was unable to effectively push back against.

And for what it's worth, Fuhrman has argued that the LAPD screwed up the investigation, missing key pieces of evidence, most notably a bloody partial print at the murder scene, that he suggests would have held up despite his own discrediting and perjury. He has also argued that Simpson could have been arrested earlier, that the warrant was poorly constructed by other detectives on the case, and so forth. So even he doesn't seem to think "the police did a fine job."
posted by kewb at 8:58 AM on June 14 [24 favorites]


sallybrown, thank you. I was in the dentist office a couple of years ago, and while a filling was setting, I was reading a copy of People Magazine with a Kardashian on the cover. The dentist came in and I said something like "Oo are theeth kHargashianz?" He just smiled and said "You have O.J. Simpson to thank for them" and I couldn't follow up because of dental tools in my mouth.

I remember my boyfriend calling me during the car chase and I tried to explain what was going on and me being unable to coherently explain and him being unable to understand. Not, to be honest, that I can coherently explain it now.
posted by acrasis at 9:10 AM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Speaking professionally, as someone who has sent results to court and who has prepared opinions on forensics (though of a type other than DNA or fingerprint evidence), the testimony of the crime folks was pretty shocking. It's still held up today in our training courses as an example of what not to do both in lab technique (not cleaning benches!) and how not to testify on the stand.
posted by bonehead at 11:15 AM on June 14 [2 favorites]


The Scopes Monkey Trial was the original declared "Trial of the [20th] Century"

No, that would be Stanford White^ being murdered by his girlfriend's husband.^ 19-aught-6.
posted by dhartung at 11:33 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]


I know I'm really late to the party, but this made me snort:

they were obviously treating him with kid gloves
posted by glhaynes at 12:17 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


I was northbound on the 710 -- I'd just gotten off the boat after a week or ten days working and I was headed home from Fish Harbor to South Pasadena -- and as I approached the 405 or maybe the 91, I noticed a cloud of about 38 news choppers buzzing over toward the right, headed to the left, and I thought oh geez, aren't folks sick of watching these chases yet?

Later I learned it was the White Bronco pursuit.

Previous to gaining notoriety, Lance Ito presided over my friend's wedding. They were neighbors in Pasadena.

Strange, small world.
posted by notyou at 2:09 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Trials of the (20th) century. I'm neither a lawyer nor a legal scholar, but in terms of significance I would pick Nuremberg.

I remember the Bronco chase well. I was on a date with the younger sister of an old high school friend and when we went back to her house the chase successfully deflected my attempts to make out with her. Just as well; we both moved on to bigger and better things and OJ eventually got locked up. I also remember the verdict. Other than the Challenger explosion and 9/11 I have never seen people gathered around TV sets like that. Much as others have described, the reaction was split along racial lines. Although based on what I have read about the case I would have had a hard time voting to convict him as well.
posted by TedW at 4:52 PM on June 14 [5 favorites]


For me, the O.J. trial introduced me to Greta Van Susteren.
I wish it hadn't.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 8:04 PM on June 14


I remember watching the chase on a tiny TV built into a limo parked in front of the Mayflower Hotel in DC. I had no connection with the limo, but about ten random strangers passing by ended up being glued to its little screen. Hard to believe that is two whole decades ago.

Also, I was a member of a comedy troupe that entertained the OJ jury on a weekend about 8 days before the conclusion of the trial. I remember how absolutely beaten down the jury members were; like victims themselves. And I remember being astounded that we were let in the room with them with absolutely no vetting of our material or props or anything. We could have brought anything in and no one would have checked. I was a little amazed by that. A surreal experience. The guy who performed right before us was a magician/sleight-of-hand guy who did that kind of act where he talks a lot and suddenly your watch is gone and he's putting it on your head or something. The juror he pulled it on was not at all gruntled. Tough crowd in general. I felt bad for them.
posted by umberto at 10:37 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


They send in comedians to entertain juries? Whoah.
posted by dabitch at 4:58 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


And when the verdict came down, I said, "Yay!" Not because I wanted some thug to get away with murdering his wife, but because I knew it would deeply piss off people I knew who were over-invested in the thing to the point of psychosis. How psychotic? I almost got beaten up for saying, "Yay!" It was small town British Columbia. I was touring with a band and we were having breakfast in a little cafe, everybody a little hungover. I'm guessing if it wasn't early in the morning, I probably would've gotten pounded.

Getting overly invested in a case isn't psychotic, even if a whole town does it and even if it's 95% driven by racism. Getting your jollies intentionally provoking a bunch of people in a social setting to impress your band or whatever isn't quite psychotic either, but if the band wasn't there for you to impress with your murderer-support-because-nyah gesture, I'd have my concerns.
posted by aydeejones at 11:36 AM on June 15 [4 favorites]


I know it's more nuanced than "he's a murderer and I said yay!" because he was framed and railroaded, but packed into that single sound-byte is none of that nuance, just a provocation to set yourself apart from a crowd. I don't know why I'm complaining about a younger you, but anti-social behavior in the absence of factors like just-wanting-to-impress people and risking the thrill of a beatdown (surely you would forecast such a possibility) is more approaching psychotic than being ignorant and wrapped up in a media frenzy.

I grew up in a 70% black neighborhood at the time. I was young (12-13) but it was a huge topic and I would estimate the breakdown in the "black community" fell along these lines. I didn't run into any vociferous defenders of innocence:

1) I wish the Rodney King thing didn't happen, because somehow it's connected to this, and I'd rather that not have happened than to have an opinion on this while white people look at me deciding if I'm biased because I'm black
2) Fuck the LAPD
3) "Even though I'm black, I still feel like he's guilty."
4) "Even though I think he's guilty, I think the LAPD is so fucked-up it's better to let him go than trust anything they come up with."
5) Fuck the LAPD
6. FUCK the LAPD

Honestly "Fuck the LAPD" in a Denver suburb (Montbello) was a more common sentiment than "Fuck the police." A lot of people there were recent transplants from the LA area.
posted by aydeejones at 11:42 AM on June 15 [3 favorites]


'Psychotic' has a really specific meaning referring to a specific cluster of mental illnesses.

It would be really nice if it weren't bandied about so casually.

Thank you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:20 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


Surprised that no one here has mentioned the salacious rumor recently going around in the press that O.J. fathered one of Kris Jenner's daughters, Khloé Kardashian. Oy.

@etaoin - "I'm curious---those who think he was framed (though guilty), did you watch the trial at the time or is this opinion formed after further revelations about Fuhrman and others?"

My own personal belief that the LAPD framed OJ, though he was most assuredly guilty of murder (à la Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune), was formed about a year after I watched some of the trial - when I later studied the trial extensively in a college rhetoric class. The evidence that persuaded me that the LAPD actively framed OJ was in the testimony of Dennis Fung, particularly the cross-examination by Barry Scheck, about the presence of EDTA from a purple top test tube in the blood samples recovered from the back gate at the Bundy Drive residence.

When he was taken into custody, OJ had given the LAPD a sample of 8cc's of his blood via purple top test tube, but the LAPD could only later account for 6.5 cc's of OJ's sample. Then all of a sudden blood containing EDTA was miraculously found on the back gate. That was enough to convince me a member of the LAPD probably went back to the scene and planted that 1.5 cc's of OJ's EDTA-tainted blood on the back gate. After that, I can absolutely see where the jury came up with reasonable doubts.

My favorite popular book on the case was Tate/LaBianca murders Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder - and I agreed most with this reader's review.
posted by hush at 1:45 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


bruce: they were obviously treating him with kid gloves

I see what you did there.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:33 AM on June 16


hush> My own personal belief that the LAPD framed OJ, though he was most assuredly guilty of murder . . . That was enough to convince me a member of the LAPD probably went back to the scene and planted that 1.5 cc's of OJ's EDTA-tainted blood on the back gate . . . My favorite popular book on the case was Tate/LaBianca murders Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder

I grabbed my copy of Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder off my bookshelf in order to see what Bugliosi had to say about the theory that blood evidence was planted on the back gate, because my memory was that Bugliosi absolutely did not believe there was any chance that those drops had been planted.

Here's what Bugliosi wrote about the supposedly EDTA-tainted blood:
Roger Martz, chief of the FBI's Chemistry and Toxicology Department, testified that tests he conducted revealed no EDTA in the blood on the rear gate and sock. The presence of three separate and distinct ions (an electrically charged atom or group of atoms formed by the loss or gain of one of more electrons) is necessary for a positive identification of EDTA, and Martz testified he found only two. He conceded that these two contained physical properties and molecular characteristics consistent with EDTA (which caused many to conclude that Martz had conceded that EDTA was found in the subject blood), but added that they were equally consistent with compounds other than EDTA. Inasmuch as EDTA is added to many foods, Martz tested his own unpreserved blood and found around the very same low level of EDTA as was present in the blood on the sock and the gate.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 11:09 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


No mention of O.J.'s book, 'If I Did It?' Always curious and not able to make myself read it.
posted by agregoli at 1:00 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


> Bugliosi absolutely did not believe there was any chance that those drops had been planted.

Correct - and I should have made it clearer that Bugliosi and I totally disagree on this point (and I see now that my link to a reader's review I agreed with indicating this did not go far enough in saying that). But I still loved his book anyway - it is great argumentation.

So even though I thoroughly enjoyed Bugliosi's take on the case (and I think he is an absolute genius at working the facts to fit his theories and should be required reading for anyone who aspires to be a prosecutor) I do not agree with every assertion in his 1996 book. He was dead wrong about Roger Martz's expert witness testimony being good enough to clear up the EDTA evidence tampering questions. But don't just take my word for it - even Martz's own employer the FBI officially concluded that Martz was an ill-prepared, arrogant-sounding witness and later reprimanded Martz for "performance issues" related to his utterly lackluster trial testimony.

IIRC from his book, it was also Bugliosi's ardent belief that an LAPD frame-up "conspiracy" was in no way possible because why ever would police officers so close to retirement risk their own pensions and their lives (he says the penalty for such a conspiracy offense is death) just to make absolutely sure that OJ would not walk free? To that argument I say it was no "conspiracy" between multiple officers to frame OJ - it was one detective probably acting alone. The missing 1.5 cc's of OJ's blood sample that were lost and never accounted for (because the sample was planted on the back gate - cough, cough) were taken by lead detective Philip Vannatter, who had access to the blood and completely broke with LAPD evidence-handling protocol before turning OJ's sample over to Dennis Fung. And who was going to catch him? The FBI? Nope. There are unscrupulous police everywhere who can and who do do this type of thing every day, and it is pretty naive of someone as sharp and insightful as Bugliosi to think otherwise. The supposed penalties do not dissuade them - they plan not to get caught. Long-winded way of saying: OJ did it, but I completely understand why the jury reached the verdict it did.
posted by hush at 4:47 PM on June 16


hush> He was dead wrong about Roger Martz's expert witness testimony being good enough to clear up the EDTA evidence tampering questions. But don't just take my word for it - even Martz's own employer the FBI officially concluded that Martz was an ill-prepared, arrogant-sounding witness and later reprimanded Martz for "performance issues" related to his utterly lackluster trial testimony.

hush> I say it was no "conspiracy" between multiple officers to frame OJ - it was one detective probably acting alone. The missing 1.5 cc's of OJ's blood sample that were lost and never accounted for (because the sample was planted on the back gate - cough, cough)

You said that you were "convinced" that it was "probable" that "a member of the LAPD went back to the scene and planted that 1.5 cc's of OJ's EDTA-tainted blood on the back gate". So the question isn't about how good of a witness Martz was or how competent the LAPD and the prosecutors were, the question is 1) was 1.5cc of O.J. Simpson's drawn blood actually missing, and 2) was the missing blood, which would have had a significant amount of EDTA in it, actually planted. And 3) could Vannatter have done this alone.

Let's take the second point first. That report makes a point of noting that Martz wasn't as careful as he should have been with note taking and therefore came off badly and reflected poorly on the FBI. That's pretty much the whole of the indictment against him in the link you provided. No actual testing of the EDTA levels in the July 3rd samples commissioned by the defense was actually brought into evidence. The defense for Simpson gave Dr. Kevin Ballard of Baylor University swatches from two of the blood drops that are alleged to have been planted. But they never presented evidence that EDTA was found in those items, despite Ballard being present in court during the EDTA testimony.

It's not enough to say that Vannatter acted alone in taking that 1.5cc of blood. Thano Peratis, the nurse who withdrew the blood and later said that he rechecked how much blood he took, based on the level in the vial he gave to Vannatter, said that there was probably a little more than 6cc in there, which would account for the "missing" 1.5cc. So you've already got a second actor, and despite what you say, you would have to have a conspiracy. Another possibility that immediately comes to mind is that people who removed blood from the vial were imprecise in noting how much they took out, and the measurement uncertainties add up to about 1.5cc.

But Peratis wouldn't be the only co-conspirator; you'd have to add Dennis Fung. Fung was done taking the blood evidence on June 13th when Vannatter came with the vial of Simpson's blood. If Vannatter somehow planted the supposedly missing 1.5cc of Simpson's blood from the vial, he would have had to have planted it without anyone noticing while the sample collection was going on on June 13th -- a near impossibility. Or told Fung to go back and collect it later, even though Fung would have had to believe, up to that point, that the evidence wasn't there. But officers Lange, Phillips, Riske, and Terrazas saw the blood on the gate -- the blood that was supposedly planted. Lange testified that he told Fung to collect it.

So that's 5 more to add to Peratis and Vannatter. When you take into account the items given to the defense for the purpose of testing for EDTA, then you might have to add one more person. Either someone provided the defense with fake samples that were later given to Ballard, which I suppose could have been some combination of Fung, Lange, Vannatter, Phillips, Riske, and Terrazas. Or maybe Ballard was in on it too.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 10:10 PM on June 16


I don't really understand planting evidence when there's already mountains of it? Any inconsistancies are much more likely due to improper handling than sabotage.
posted by agregoli at 7:23 AM on June 17


> No actual testing of the EDTA levels in the July 3rd samples commissioned by the defense was actually brought into evidence. The defense for Simpson gave Dr. Kevin Ballard of Baylor University swatches from two of the blood drops that are alleged to have been planted. But they never presented evidence that EDTA was found in those items, despite Ballard being present in court during the EDTA testimony.

Ah, I see why we're maybe talking past each other a bit here. Remember which side bears the burden of proof in US criminal cases: it is always the prosecutor's job to prove a defendant is guilty; never a defendant's job to prove that he or she is innocent. The defense need not present any evidence at all. And when the defense is handed the gift of unpersuasive testimony from Martz (wherein he makes it seem like he himself invented the scientific test), sometimes the best defense strategy is to discredit him on cross and then be silent.

> So you've already got a second actor, and despite what you say, you would have to have a conspiracy. Another possibility that immediately comes to mind is that people who removed blood from the vial were imprecise in noting how much they took out, and the measurement uncertainties add up to about 1.5cc.

You may be right. Conspiracy? Acted alone? Who knows. I actually think it was entirely possible to have planted a few drops of blood without anyone noticing while the sample collection was going on on June 13th (or at some other time) - it would only take a few seconds - who would suspect you, a senior LAPD detective? Anyway, had I been on that jury, this would have been more than enough for me to have reasonable doubts. My hunch is Detective Vannatter acted alone; Nurse Peratis and Fung were imprecise and incompetent - rather than announce to them what he was doing, he could just take advantage of their putative sloppiness. Peratis came across like he never seemed to know how much blood he was taking from anyone - 8cc's was his guess, essentially. Possibly blind eyes were turned to what Vannatter was doing. It's a conspiracy only if there is an agreement with one or more people to commit a crime, and one of them commits an act in furtherance of that agreement.
posted by hush at 7:42 AM on June 17


hush> Ah, I see why we're maybe talking past each other a bit here. Remember which side bears the burden of proof in US criminal cases: it is always the prosecutor's job to prove a defendant is guilty; never a defendant's job to prove that he or she is innocent. The defense need not present any evidence at all. And when the defense is handed the gift of unpersuasive testimony from Martz (wherein he makes it seem like he himself invented the scientific test), sometimes the best defense strategy is to discredit him on cross and then be silent.

No, I'm completely aware which side bears the burden of proof. Your argument isn't simply that the prosecution failed to prove to the jury that the samples weren't tainted with EDTA (although as the link I provided above points out, a big part of that is because the defense wasn't required to provide Ballard's test results if they didn't call him as a witness). Your argument is that those samples were tainted with EDTA because Vannatter planted 1.5cc of the blood drawn from O.J. Simpson. And it's just about as clear as it can possibly be that those samples, items 47 and 50, were not EDTA tainted and therefore could not have possibly been planted by Vannatter or anyone else using blood from the draw, and the report you linked to does not prove or even suggest otherwise.

hush> Acted alone? Who knows. I actually think it was entirely possible to have planted a few drops of blood without anyone noticing while the sample collection was going on on June 13th (or at some other time) - it would only take a few seconds - who would suspect you, a senior LAPD detective? Anyway, had I been on that jury, this would have been more than enough for me to have reasonable doubts. My hunch is Detective Vannatter acted alone; Nurse Peratis and Fung were imprecise and incompetent - rather than announce to them what he was doing, he could just take advantage of their putative sloppiness. Peratis came across like he never seemed to know how much blood he was taking from anyone - 8cc's was his guess, essentially. Possibly blind eyes were turned to what Vannatter was doing. It's a conspiracy only if there is an agreement with one or more people to commit a crime, and one of them commits an act in furtherance of that agreement.

No. Even if, contrary to all logic, 1.5cc of blood actually had been stolen, as opposed to never existing or being a result of additive measurement uncertainty or some combination of the two and Vannatter stole that 1.5cc of blood from the vial and he decided to plant the blood in a backyard less than half the size of a tennis court while a bunch of other LAPD employees were there because he's sure that no one will catch him and confront him about it and he magically was able to make the EDTA in the planted blood drop disappear so that the expert the defense sent the samples to was unable to detect it, there would still have to be a criminal conspiracy after the fact to conceal Vannatter's actions.

The theory that those blood drops were planted is a conspiracy theory, and like most other conspiracy theories, it falls apart when you take into account the number of people who would have to be involved.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 9:18 AM on June 17


> No, I'm completely aware which side bears the burden of proof

Great, but with all due respect, the entire second paragraph of your prior comment here did not indicate a correct understanding of the burden of proof concept at all.

> that the expert the defense sent the samples to was unable to detect it

See the parts where you have insisted multiple times here now that because the defense didn't admit something into evidence it is therefore proof that such evidence never existed in the first place? You just did that again. That's a logical fallacy.

> And it's just about as clear as it can possibly be that those samples, items 47 and 50, were not EDTA tainted

Wrong - even the FBI's own report says the samples did, in fact, contain EDTA. If you don't believe me, then you can go read the FBI's own public document I linked to again. Even Martz himself indicated those samples did, in fact, contain EDTA. Martz's take on it was that everyone's blood contains trace amounts of EDTA because it is in a lot of the foods we eat, which is obviously a debatable point.

> The theory that those blood drops were planted is a conspiracy theory,

I'm sorry you think so, and as it seems you are using "conspiracy theory" as a pejorative term here, I will go away now. There is really no need to start Straw Man-ing folks who have expressed reasonable doubts about the veracity of the LAPD and their procedures as "conspiracy theorists," because the fact remains there absolutely are reasonable people on both sides of this issue, and perhaps there still is a good faith discussion left to be had.
posted by hush at 10:22 AM on June 17


If you don't believe me, then you can go read the FBI's own public document I linked to again. Even Martz himself indicated those samples did, in fact, contain EDTA.

I did. It appears you did not.

I. Introduction

..Martz later examined the bloodstain evidence from the rear gate and socks and concluded that they did not contain EDTA-preserved blood..

IV. Conclusion

We find no basis to conclude that Martz committed perjury or misled the trier of facts or defense in the Simpson case.


If you want to believe the conspiracy theory promoted by OJ's defense lawyers, just remember it was an argument to discredit the prosecution, and not a presentation of facts.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:00 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


Great, but with all due respect, the entire second paragraph of your prior comment here did not indicate a correct understanding of the burden of proof concept at all.

No, you're not going to get away with this. You made the claim, before I was involved in this comment thread at all, that the blood in the samples was EDTA-tainted. You did not say that the prosecution failed to prove that there was no EDTA in those samples. If you had, my response would have been to say nothing because discussion of the many failures of the prosecution was well-trod ground 15 years ago. But when it comes to your conspiracy theory that Vannatter planted 1.5cc of Simpson's blood draw, you have the burden of proof. It is an extraordinary claim, and, for that matter, an accusation of criminal wrongdoing. The fact that the point came up as a theory by Simpson's defense team doesn't mean I or anyone else has the burden of affirmatively proving that you're wrong.

See the parts where you have insisted multiple times here now that because the defense didn't admit something into evidence it is therefore proof that such evidence never existed in the first place? You just did that again. That's a logical fallacy.

No, it's an inference from the facts. Since the defense refused to voluntarily turn over the results of Ballard's testing -- the defense did not claim that no testing occurred -- it is a perfectly reasonable inference that his results, like those of Roger Martz, did not show that the samples were EDTA tainted.

Wrong - even the FBI's own report says the samples did, in fact, contain EDTA. If you don't believe me, then you can go read the FBI's own public document I linked to again. Even Martz himself indicated those samples did, in fact, contain EDTA. Martz's take on it was that everyone's blood contains trace amounts of EDTA because it is in a lot of the foods we eat, which is obviously a debatable point.

As charlie don't surf points out, the FBI's own public document absolutely does not say that the samples contained EDTA; in fact, it states the opposite. Nor did Roger Martz "indicate" that the samples contained EDTA during his testimony of July 25th and 26th, 1995. He clearly stated the opposite more than once.

I'm sorry you think so, and as it seems you are using "conspiracy theory" as a pejorative term here, I will go away now. There is really no need to start Straw Man-ing folks who have expressed reasonable doubts about the veracity of the LAPD and their procedures as "conspiracy theorists," because the fact remains there absolutely are reasonable people on both sides of this issue, and perhaps there still is a good faith discussion left to be had.

Don't be sorry. The facts of the testimony require that if, as you are "convinced" is "probable", Vannatter took 1.5cc of the blood drawn from O.J. Simpson and put it on the back gate, multiple parties acted, without any coordination, to cover up Vannatter's evidence tampering. Or, because that strains credulity, it requires a conspiracy after the fact at least to cover it up. This isn't "reasonable doubt" about the veracity of the LAPD and its procedures, it's assuming a conspiracy or set of crimes extending all the way to the FBI, that would have been dragged screaming into the light by the results of Ballard's testing, if there really was any EDTA tainted blood in the sock and back gate samples. You object to "conspiracy theory"? Assuming you believe the only alternative theory in which Vannatter planted the blood on the back gate doesn't do you any favors.

You have misrepresented the FBI's report on Martz's testimony and Martz's testimony as well. That was such a brazen falsehood that I actually wondered if my mind was going. I actually thought that I somehow misread that FBI report with respect to items 47 and 50 and ended up believing the opposite of what it actually said. I'm grateful that someone else pointed that out, because I would have spent hours re-reading those few pages, trying to figure out what I missed.

In light of that, I'm tempted to make a comment about your insinuation that I'm the one who hasn't been engaging in a "good faith discussion", but I've had enough of this.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 1:06 AM on June 18


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