NEWLN: The defendant:
O.J. Simpson: The 48-year-old former football superstar is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the June 12, 1994, stabbing and slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, outside her condominium. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy in 1968 as best college football player in the United States while at the University of Southern California, and was named to the National Football League Hall of Fame in 1985 after stints with the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers. He also has worked as a celebrity spokesman, most notably for Hertz; as a television commentator; and as an actor in several movies including 'The Towering Inferno' and the 'Naked Gun' series. NEWLN:The judge:
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lance Ito: Now the nation's best-known man on the bench, Ito, 45, was appointed to the bench in 1989. He previously served as a Municipal Court judge from 1987-89. Before being appointed to the court, Ito worked as a deputy district attorney from 1977-87. A graduate of University of California-Los Angeles, and Boalt Hall Law School at the University of California- Berkeley, Ito was admitted to the bar in 1975. Ito's wife, Capt. Margaret 'Peggy' York, is the highest-ranking woman in the Los Angeles Police Department.
The victims: Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, allegedly a long-time victim of domestic abuse, involved romantically with Simpson since she was 18 years old. They were married in 1985 and divorced in 1992. The couple had two young children, Sydney and Justin. Except for a brief stint as a saleswoman in a boutique, Nicole never held a job. Ronald Goldman, 25, a handsome sometime model and waiter at the restaurant where Nicole Simpson ate her last meal. Prosecutors say he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he went to Nicole Simpson's condominium to return a pair of eyeglasses that her mother had left. NEWLN:Prosecution team:
Lead prosecutor Marcia Clark: She has been the prosecutor in more than 60 felony trials since joining the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office in 1981. She won a murder conviction of Robert John Bardo in the killing of actress Rebecca Schaeffer. The University of California, Los Angeles, and Southwestern University School of Law graduate previously worked for a criminal defense law office for two years. Clark, 41, has faced a bitter child custody battle with her estranged husband, Gordon, for their two young children in the midst of the Simpson trial. She was born in Israel.
Co-lead prosecutor Christopher Darden: He is a 14-year veteran of the District Attorney's Office who has prosecuted numerous jury trials, including 19 murder cases. Defense lawyers charged that he was added to the prosecution team solely because he is black -- an allegation the District Attorney's Office vehemently denied. Darden once headed the Special Investigations Division, which investigated police officers. The 39-year-old graduated from San Jose State University and Hastings College of Law. NEWLN:Defense lawyers:
Lead attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.: Simpson's well-spoken and nattily dressed lead attorney has represented 'King of Pop' Michael Jackson and truck driver Reginald Denny, whose videotaped beating during the Los Angeles riots in 1992 made national headlines. Known for his charming wit and smooth style as well as an acid-tinged tongue, Cochran, 57, is considered a strong orator who has little trouble making his case in the courtroom or before television news cameras. He earned his law degree from Loyola University School of Law in Los Angeles in 1962. Cochran worked as a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles from 1963-65 but left to start his own firm. He served as assistant district attorney for Los Angeles County from 1978-80.
Defense attorney Barry Scheck: The DNA specialist was chosen over fellow 'Dream Team' members, including nationally renowned lawyer F. Lee Bailey and Simpson's former lead defense attorney Robert Shapiro, to split the defense's crucial closing arguments with Cochran. Legal experts praised him for his feistiness and unrelenting interrogation of prosecution witnesses, including what some dubbed a 'crucifixion' of police criminalist Dennis Fung. The Brooklyn-based attorney, along with his Simpson colleague Peter Neufeld, developed the Innocence Project, which uses DNA testing to try to free convicted felons.
The jury: The jury is comprised of nine blacks, two whites and one Hispanic. There are 10 women and two men on the panel. Ten other jurors have been ousted from the panel, mostly for misconduct, leaving two alternates, a black man and a white woman. They range in age from 22 to 72. Two have college degrees. They have been sequestered at a hotel since Jan. 11 to try to keep them from being tainted by outside influences. The jurors picked a foreman Friday within three minutes, and announced Monday that they had reached a verdict less than four hours after beginning deliberations. The jury had asked Ito to read back only one portion of the testimony of a crucial prosecution witness, limousine driver Allan Park, who offered damaging information against Simpson. Jurors, who have had twice-weekly visits with family members, are expected to be released from sequestration after the verdict is announced.
The verdict: The judge said the verdict would not be announced until 10 a.m. PDT Tuesday so the lead attorneys, Clark and Cochran, could be present. The jury could render verdicts of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or outright acquittal. The defense, which wanted the jury to render an all-or-nothing verdict, had strenuously objected to the second-degree murder instruction. If convicted of first-degree murder, Simpson could face a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole. Second-degree murder carries a penalty of 15-years-to-life. Legal experts said allowing a second-degree verdict gave the jury a way to compromise between sending Simpson to prison for life and setting him free. Prosecutors decided fairly early on not to seek the death penalty.
The trial: The so-called 'case of the century' began Sept. 26, 1994, with jury selection. Opening statements began Jan. 24, and jurors began hearing testimony Jan. 31. Prosecutors and defense attorneys called 120 witnesses, with two government witnesses spending a record nine days on the stand apiece. The judge gave the panel the case on Sept. 29 after four days of impassioned closing arguments by both sides, noting that the world would be watching them, while urging them not to be influenced by public sentiment. The trial's two court reporters produced about 50,000 pages of transcripts from testimony. County officials said they have spent more than $8 million on the murder case, including $2.6 million on sequestration expenses.
The prosecution's case: Prosecutors contend that a 'mountain' of physical evidence links Simpson to the brutal murders, including blood drops leading away from the scene and fibers from his white Ford Bronco. DNA test results also link Simpson and the murder victims to a bloody glove found at Simpson's estate and bloodstains found in his Bronco. Prosecutors say the most damaging evidence might be a pair of socks found in Simpson's bedroom that contain blood from Simpson and his slain ex-wife. The government lawyers also contend that Simpson had the motive to kill Nicole Brown Simpson after she tried to estrange herself from him. Calling Simpson a controlling, jealous and obsessive man, prosecutors presented evidence that he physically and emotionally abused his ex-wife during their 17-year relationship. Prosecutors presented photos of a battered Nicole Simpson, and played tapes of two 911 emergency calls in which she pleaded for help.
The defense's case: Defense lawyers accuse police and other authorities of traipsing through the murder scene in a bumbling investigation, irreconciliably contaminating evidence and failing to collect other crucial pieces of evidence. They also suggest that some police officers may have participated in an elaborate conspiracy to frame Simpson. Defense lawyers dub co-lead police investigator Philip Vannatter and disgraced ex-police detective Mark Fuhrman as 'the twin devils of deception,' accusing them of lying to the jury about numerous topics. The defense team urges jurors not to consider the past evidence of domestic violence in the Simpson household, saying there was no evidence he hit his ex- wife after 1989.