OJ - the former legend's bandwagon judders to a halt

OJ Simpson, once a beloved legend in America, will spend at least the next six years behind bars as his momentous fall from grace reached its lowest point yet.





It was America's "trial of the century" 13 years ago that indirectly led to the former American football star being brought before the Las Vegas courts earlier this year.

He also penned a book, called If I Did It, which set out how he might have murdered his ex-wife, had he been so inclined.

His 1995 acquittal of the double murder of his former wife and her friend was followed by a civil judgment which found him responsible for their deaths and ordered him to pay 33.5 million dollars (£22.9 million) in damages.

In order to avoid handing over any money, prosecutors said he hid valuable sports memorabilia and personal items at the homes of various friends after a tip-off that his own home was about to be raided by the US authorities.

It is this property which was at the centre of the Las Vegas hotel room heist and Simpson's subsequent conviction for kidnapping and armed robbery.

Born in San Francisco, California, on July 9 1947, "The Juice" was once probably the greatest player in the National Football League.

But the double killing of his ex-wife and her friend in 1994 saw him become one of the most famous murder suspects in legal history as he took his place at the centre of the "trial of the century".

As every moment played out on television screens across the world, Simpson walked free from the Los Angeles courtroom after his high-profile defence team raised doubts about DNA evidence, police conduct and a blood-stained black leather glove.

"If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," jurors were told.

But more than a decade later in Las Vegas, the thousands of supporters, protesters and media who followed his every move in the 1990s were nowhere to be seen, and the jury in courtroom 15a of the Clark Country district court found him guilty of a dozen counts of kidnapping and armed robbery.

His arrest last year by at least six plain-clothes policemen, accompanied by a handful of hotel security guards from The Palms casino-hotel in Las Vegas, was not the first time Simpson had had legal troubles since his high profile LA trial.

In Florida in 2001 he was cleared of charges in a road-rage incident and, in January 2003, his teenage daughter Sydney made an emotional 911 call to police after an argument with her father over family issues, but no charges were filed.

A neighbour who went to Simpson's suburban Miami home on July 4 2005, also called police to report a fight, but again no charges were filed.

In the UK, Simpson has always been better known for his involvement in criminal trials than for his work on the pitch.

Before the 1994 murders his name meant little to Britons except as the man who had bit parts in the Naked Gun comedy films.

Alongside madcap Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley and Hollywood heavyweight George Kennedy, he was easy to miss as a detective sidekick.

But all that changed on the night of June 12 1994, with the two killings and the start of Simpson's route to jail.

After years as the much feared and much loved Number 32 of the Buffalo Bills, Simpson received another number - 4013970, a prisoner of Los Angeles County Jail. And again, in his latest case, he was inmate number 2648927 after his arrest in Las Vegas.

TV viewers all over the world were gripped by the proceedings in the Los Angeles courtroom from where the double murder trial was screened for more than 250 days and analysed in detail by experts keen to jump on the OJ bandwagon.

As he was questioned about the murders of his ex-wife Nicole, 35, the mother of his two children, and Ron Goldman, 25, he became the biggest TV star of all.

Reports at the time said he became the best known black American since Muhammad Ali - for all the wrong reasons.

Up to the trial he had been one of America's best loved sportsmen - Frank Bruno and Gary Lineker rolled into one clean-cut image with a multi-million dollar fortune.

He had been probably the greatest player in American football as a running back with the Buffalo Bills and became the game's highest paid player as he was credited with reversing their fortunes.

He was made a member of American football's Hall of Fame and broke more records for skill than any other player.

Simpson had been a natural athlete and excelled as a sportsman at the University of Southern California, leading his team to the national championship and winning the coveted Heisman Trophy for best college footballer of the year by the largest margin ever.

When he retired from the game in 1979, Hollywood moguls beat a well-worn path to his door and he soon became one of the TV glory boys as a commentator and then an actor in films.

But behind the scenes things were going badly and in 1989 he was put on probation for two years for allegedly kicking, punching and slapping his wife.

Their stormy marriage broke up in 1992 and an alleged effort to get back together just before the murders was a disaster waiting to happen.

His ex-wife and her friend were found stabbed to death on the tiled pavement outside her Spanish-style town house near Sunset Boulevard.

Simpson was soon arrested after a bizarre slow-speed police chase through the streets of Los Angeles, driving one handed while holding a gun to his head, threatening to kill himself.

As an eerie prelude to the eventual trial, it was played out on live television and screened around the world. The bandwagon was up and running.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?