How a trial turned on a bloody glove

The verdict: A key police witness's racial jibes undermined prosecution 's forensic evidence

TIM CORNWELL

Los Angeles

Orenthal James Simpson - football star, TV commentator, comedy movie actor - is, according to the law, an innocent man. Argument will rage for years about the weight of evidence against him. At the very least - innocent or guilty - he benefited from one of the most confused and bungled prosecutions of a high-profile case in American legal history.

According to the prosecution, he was a cold-blooded murderer, a man who brutally dispatched his ex-wife and a friend and, within the space of an hour, showered, changed and took a limousine to the airport.

According to the defence, he was the victim of a hurried plan by the LA police department to frame a celebrity - and, more importantly, a black celebrity.

The pivotal moment in the trial was the argument surrounding a bloody glove found near the murder scene and spots of blood found in OJ's drive.

According to the prosecution the DNA match-up between this blood and Simpson's blood was a conclusive 57 billion to one shot. The defence alleged that the blood and glove were planted by the LA police department. Some credence was given to this claim when it emerged that Detective Mark Fuhrman, the policeman who found the glove, was an inveterate racist.

Judge Lance Ito allowed the jury to hear extracts of a taped conversation with Fuhrman in which he used the word nigger. Although the judge did not expose the mainly black jury to the full tapes, experienced trial watchers - and leaks from the jury room - suggested that OJ could not be convicted from that moment.

How strong was the evidence against OJ?

The entire 12-month trial seemed to turn, in the end, on OJ's chauffeur- driven journey on the night of the crime from his estate, in Brentwood, near Beverly Hills, to LA international airport. On Monday, just before they announced that they had reached a verdict, the jury asked to hear once again the testimony of his chauffeur, Allan Park. Mr Park told the court that, at 10.40pm on the night of the murder, he buzzed the intercom at Simpson's gate without an answer. Fifteen minutes later, he buzzed again. Simpson answered, saying he had overslept and was in the shower. In the intervening time, Park said he saw a man in dark clothing enter the house.

The testimony - never challenged in the trial - appeared to undermine the central assertion of the defence: that Simpson was at home practising his golf swing from 9.40pm to 11pm - while his wife was being virtually decapitated two miles away. At 11pm that night her mangled body was found alongside that of Ronald Goldman, a waiter at a local restaurant.

OJ, it seemed, had an opportunity to commit the crime. What of motive and proof?

The prosecution asserted that OJ was perpetually jealous, a man driven by the need to bring his ex-wife under his control. According to this version, he took Goldman for his wife's lover, although this was never proven. On 25 October 1993, just nine months before her death, Nicole Simpson dialled 911, for the police. "My husband - or ex-husband - has just broken into my house and he's ranting and raving outside in the front yard," Nicole told the dispatcher. In the background of the tape, played in court, OJ is heard raging about a National Enquirer story about the couple and slamming on a door. "I don't give a - any more, -," he yells.

Much depended on the bloody glove found at the murder scene and a trail of blood drops nearby and in his own driveway. Blood on the rear gate of Nicole Simpson's condominium, retrieved several weeks after the crime, also matched his. Blood on a sock found in Simpson's bedroom matched Nicole's. An FBI hair and fibre expert matched fibres found on a knit cap near the bodies and on a leather glove found behind Mr Simpson's house with carpeting in his Ford Bronco.

Richard Rubin, a former glove company executive, said he was "100 per cent certain" that the bloody gloves found at Nicole's home and Simpson's were the same Aris Leather Lights style number 70263 with Brasser stitching that Simpson sported in a photograph at a football game in 1991.

But all this evidence was discredited by the bungled early stages of the police investigation and the destruction of Detective Fuhrman's character by the tapes proving his racist attitudes - something he had denied on oath in court.

If not OJ, who?

The defence claimed that a Colombian cocaine cartel killed Nicole and her friend by mistake. They had, the defence claimed, been sent to assassinate one of her friends.

No convincing evidence was offered that such a plot ever existed.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions