Although the 1995 criminal trial of O. J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman has been called "a great trash novel come to life," no one can deny the pull it had on the American public. If the early reports of the murder of the wife of the ex-football-star-turned-sports-announcer hadn't caught people's full attention, Simpson's surreal Bronco ride on the day of his arrest certainly did--ninety-five million television viewers witnessed the slow police chase live. The 133 days of televised courtroom testimony turned countless viewers into Simpson trial junkies. Even foreign leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Boris Yeltsin eagerly gossiped about the trial. When Yeltsin stepped off his plane to meet President Clinton, the first question he asked was, "Do you think O. J. did it?" When, at 10 a.m. PST on October 3, Judge Ito's clerk read the jury's verdict of "Not Guilty," 91% of all persons viewing television were glued to the unfolding scene in the Los Angeles courtroom.
June 12, 1994
Exactly what happened sometime after ten o'clock on the Sunday night of June 12, 1994 is still disputed, but most likely a single male came through the back entrance of Nicole Brown Simpson's condominium on Bundy Drive in the prestigious Brentwood area of Los Angeles[LINK TO MAP]. In a small, nearly enclosed area near the front gate, the man brutally slashed Nicole, almost severing her neck from her body. Then he struggled with and repeatedly--about thirty times--stabbed Ronald Goldman. Ronald Goldman was a twenty-five-year-old acquaintance of Nicole's, who had come to her condominium to return a pair of sunglasses that her mother had left earlier that evening at the Mezzaluna restaurant. (A person would later post a sign outside the Mezzaluna reading, "Don't forget your sunglasses.")
Just after midnight, Nicole's howling Akita, with blood on its belly and legs, attracted the attention of a neighbor, who then discovered the two bodies. The ill-fated investigation of the Brown-Simpson and Goldman murders began.
Nicole Brown Simpson's ex-husband, former football great and media personality O. J. Simpson, meanwhile, was aboard American Airlines flight #668 to Chicago. Simpson had taken off from Los Angeles at 11:45 after receiving a ride to the airport in a limousine driven by Allan Park, an employee of the Town and Country Limousine Company. The limousine had left the Simpson estate on Rockingham Avenue[LINK TO MAP OF SIMPSON ESTATE] about half an hour late, after Park called to report at 10:25 that no one answered his ring at the door. Park observed a man he assumed to be Simpson enter his house at 10:56.
Police called Simpson early Monday morning at the O'Hare Plaza Hotel in Chicago, where Simpson had planned to attend a convention of the Hertz rental car company. When informed that his wife had been killed, Simpson did not ask how, when, or by whom. He did--according to his later testimony--smash a glass in grief, badly cutting his left hand. Prosecutors would have a different explanation for the injury. Simpson boarded the next flight to Los Angeles, arriving home about noon to find a full-scale police investigation underway. Police tape stretched across his front gate and cardboard tags marked bloodstains on the driveway.