The OJ Simpson case is one of the most popular cases in the US. It raised important issues in the US criminal justice system and facts that were so familiar. In the case was a man convicted of a passionate crime against a loving companion with whom he had been in a relationship characterized psychological and physical abuse. It was a trial that significantly applied the science of DNA, raised character issues and syndrome evidence. The purpose of this paper is to write about the investigative process of the case and also consider the prosecution and defensive arguments used during the trial.
The Investigation and Prosecution Evidence
On Sunday, June 12, 1994, before midnight, Steven Schwab was having a stroll with his dog when he met another agitated dog. As the dog started to follow Steven to his home, he noticed a blood-like substance on its belly and paws. The dog was still unusually behaving when he arrived at his home, and Steven decided to alert his neighbor and asked if he would keep the dog until the owner was found. The neighbor, Sukru Boztepe, agreed, but later decided to take the dog for a stroll to see if he would find the owner. He followed the dog up to 875 south Bundy where he was met by a rather ghastly scene. On the walkaway was what seemed to be a lifeless body of a person surrounded by a huge mass of blood on the floor and clothes (Taslitz 1998).
Just after midnight, Police officers arrived at the place and found the body of a dead woman dressed in a short black dress, barefooted, and lying face down. They also noticed numerous wounds on the person’s neck and throat. Next to the woman was a male whose clothes were also soaked in blood. The police quickly identified the woman as Nicole Brown Simpson, the house owner in 875 south Bundy. She was thirty-five years old and ex-wife to celebrated footballer O.J Simpson. The dead man beside her was identified as Ronald Goldman from the identification card in his wallet. He was aged twenty-five and worked at a restaurant that Nicole and her family had earlier ate. There weretwo of Simpson’s children who were found sleeping in their beds safely (Taslitz, 1998).
At 2:10 AM, two detectives, Fuhrman and Roberts came at the scene but were later notified that LAPD’s top detectives Phil Vannatter and Tom Lange had been assigned the case as lead detectives(Taslitz, 1998). After intense examination of the scene of the crime, the detectives saw keys which were presumed to belong to Goldman, a cap purportedly the perpetrators, Goldman’s beeper, a white envelope that had Nicole’s mother eyeglasses, and a leather-glove presumed to be the suspect’s. Detectives later decided to make contact with OJ to tell him of the murder and to arrange the collection of his children. At Simpson’s house, the detectives saw a white Ford Bronco which was determined as belonging to OJ Simpson (Taslitz, 1998).
Taslitz (1998) further documents that the detectives found traces of blood on the door handle of the vehicle at the crime scene. The detectives gained entry in Simpson’s premises on the assumption that someone in the house was in grave danger. They, however, met one of Simpson’s friend, Kato Kaelin and Arnelle Simpson, one of Simpson’s daughter. Simpson had reportedly traveled to Chicago the day before and came back that night when he went again. Police contacted Simpson and informed him of the murder but did not bother to ask which of his ex-wife was killed.
Simpson was later called for interrogations to establish whether he was connected with the murder. The evidence provided strong conclusions that Simpson was responsible for the murder. The blood drops near Goldman and Nicole matched that of Simpson, and several blood drops at the walkaway also matched his. Intensive DNA analysis showed that the blood on the scene of the crime that was not Goldman’s or Nicole’s was Simpson’s (Taupin, 2018). Into the bargain, Simpson had an unexplained cut on his hand, which was, presumably, inflicted during the murder. In the vehicle at the scene of the crime, the blood on the driver’s door matched that of Simpson as well as that on the console. Four more blood samples on a sock matched that of Simpson as well as some in the foyer (Webb, 2017).
Following this ton of evidence, an arrest warrant was issued on Friday, June 17, 1994. Robert Shapiro, Simpson’s attorney, was instructed to accompany him to the police station. Simpson was later arrested after a long chase and run at his residence for the murder of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Simpson. The trial jury commenced on January 23, 1995 (Taslitz, 1998).
Defense in OJ Simpson’s Case
According to Mueller (1996), the prosecution had a mountain of evidence that led to Simpson as the sole perpetrator of the murder. There was physical proof abovementioned and numerous scientific evidence that matched Simpson’s DNA to that at the scene of the crime was used by the prosecuting side to convict Simpson. The defense was apt to counter this evidence from all sides. First, it contended that the prosecution erroneously presented Simpson’s mood, motive, appearance, and general demeanor. Specifically, the prosecuting side had earlier argued that Simpson was frequently angry at Nicole and wanted to harm her. However, the defense presented evidence of a homemade videotape that showed a smiling Simpson who was affable to her ex-wife at all encounters. Simpson had recently gotten a new wife, Paula Barbieri, and did not hold anything against Nicole. In fact, nobody had seen him leave his residence with the White Bronco in the walkaway before they parted ways with Kaelin.
Secondly, Mueller (1996) reports how the defense exposed the erroneous prosecutioninterpretation of the physical evidence presented. Cochran ridiculed the prosecution premise that Simpson may have worn the ski cap to disguise his identity. He stated that it did not disguise anything, and Simpson was still himself even with the cap. The ultimate downfall of the prosecuting side came when the defense argued that Mark Fuhrman, a racist cop, had planted the blood-stained glove at the crime scene. Lee Bailey initially tried to build a case incriminating Fuhrman by stating that he entered the yard and hid one glove in his socks. The defense later presented videos showing Fuhrman calling African Americans nigger in forty-one instances. McKinney, one of the Fuhrman’s victims, testified that the cop had, in fact, earlier said that he planted evidence on black suspects to incriminate them. The defense went on to argue that the glove was planted since it had not been captured by an insurance adjuster when videotaping the room it was, purportedly, found.
In another symbolic and interesting moment, leading prosecutor Christopher Darden requested Simpson to wear the glove collected at the crime scene. Donning latex gloves to prevent contamination, the suspect tried to wear it but was evidently too small. The defense also endeavored to show that Vannatter, one of the leading LAPD detectives, had planted blood on the crime scene. As the defense disclosed, Vannatter had carried blood samples of Simpson for approximately three hours, after which he returned to Simpson’s residence. The defense revealed further that Vannatter had earlier commented that the spouse of a murdered woman is invariably the suspect. In his closing statements, Cochran contended that Fuhrman and Vannatter were both prevaricators and were racially motivated at incriminating Simpson on a murder he did not commit (Walter and Chau, 2018).
According to Meringolo (2010), the defense finally showed that the detectives had made mistakes when collecting blood samples. It showed that the blood had been “Cross-Contaminated” in the laboratory. Barry Scheck, one of the defense lawyers, showed that Andrea Mazzola and Dennis Fung made bad mistakes when collecting samples at the murder scene and that Colin Yamauchi had compromised the samples in LAPD’s laboratory. Already contaminated, the defense argued that none of the DNA evidence presented by the LAPD could be used even if the FBI had perfectly analyzed their work. This defense was later bolstered by prominent criminalist, Henry Lee, who argued that the evidence was wrong at all counts.
According to Rosenberg (2015), Simpson’s case had broken the record of being one of the longest and most expensive in California since the Charles Manson case. Judge Ito had sequestered the jury for almost a year, and the bench was now showing signs of exhaustion and strain. The judge, however, received huge criticism from other judges and the media for failing to control the lawyers in his court. Marcia Clark, in the prosecution’s summation, denounced Fuhrman, calling him a racist bigoted cop who did not deserve to be in the American criminal justice system.
Notwithstanding, she did not accept that Simpson was framed and took the jury to the preponderance evidence that they had accumulated. The jury spent only three hours in debating the case that had used $15 million to try in over 133 days and producing 150 witnesses. Deidre Robertson, Judge Ito’s clerk announced the defendant Orenthal James Simpson, not guilty of murdering Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman at 10AM (Rosenberg, 2015). This was a landmark case that was profoundly affected by the prosecution’s inadequacies and faults. It struck a raw nerve in the American criminal justice system and brought into fore some existing issues in American society.
Meringolo, J. C. (2010). The media, the jury, and the high-profile defendant: a defense perspective on the media circus.NYL Sch. L. Rev., 55, 981.
Mueller, C. B. (1996). Introduction: OJ Simpson and the criminal justice system on trial. U. Colo. L. Rev., 67, 727.
Rosenberg, I. Color lines: Race relations and the OJ Simpson trial.History Journal Volume XV, 2015, 46.
Taslitz, A. E. (1998). An African-American sense of fact: The OJ trial and black judges on justice.BU Pub. Int. LJ, 7, 219.
Taupin, J. M. (2018). Using forensic DNA evidence at trial: A case study approach. CRC Press.
Walton, P., & Chau, J. (2018). “I’m not black. I’m OJ”: Constructions, productions, and refractions of blackness.Canadian Review of American Studies, 48(1), 61-76.
Webb, C. (2017). The media vs. DNA: How the use of DNA and the media in the OJ Simpson forever changed the criminal justice system.
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