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O.J. Simpson acquitted of murder

By
TERRI VERMEULEN

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 3 -- O.J. Simpson, who rose from the poverty of the projects to the football Hall of Fame and the glamorous life of a movie and TV celebrity, was acquitted Tuesday of the savage murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The predominantly black panel of 10 women and two men delivered the stunning verdict in the 'trial of the century' one day after announcing they had made a decision following less than four hours of deliberations. Several members of the families of the victims broke into tears and wailed softly. Simpson exhaled a huge sigh of relief and broke into a grin as he heard the jury rule that he can walk away a free man. He has been in jail since June 17, 1994. Fred Goldman, who had often expressed his anger and disgust at Simpson and his million-dollar defense team, hugged his sobbing wife and daughter as they doubled over in apparent agony as they heard the jury affirm their verdict that Simpson had been absolved of the murder of son and brother. Simpson's family showed immense relief, with his grown son, Jason, breaking into tears. Other family members said outside the courtroom that now the police can get on about the business of finding the real killer or killers and the Simpsons 'can get on with our lives.' In a statement read by his son, Simpson said, 'I am relieved that this part of the incredible nightmare is over.

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My first obligation is to my young children...my second is to my family who have never wavered in their support. 'I will pursue the killer or killers who slaughtered Nicole, whatever it takes. Despite every prejudicial thing that has been said about me, they wull understand that I would not, could not and did not kill anyone.' Simpson, 48, could have faced life in prison if he had been convicted for the brutal June 12, 1994, stabbing and slashing deaths. Simpson's grown daughter Arnelle said she could not answer the question of how the family would be reunited since little Justin and Sydney Simpson are in the custody of the family of Nicole Brown Simpson, who have said from nearly the outset that they believe Simpson killed Nicole. Denise Brown, Nicole's sister, told Geraldo Riviera that the family's paramount concern was 'the health and well-being' of the children. 'I feel that a friendly approach to the whole situation of custodianship is going to be much better for the children,' added Lou Brown, Nicole's father, during an exclusive interview on CNBC's 'Geraldo Live.' After the verdict was read, Denise said, 'I was numb. I was absolutely numb. I couldn't cry. I had absolutely no feeling. Whatever our personal feelings about the right or wrong of their decision, now we have to get on with the rest of our lives.' Her father added, 'The trial is over. The jury has spoken. I don't have it 100 percent in my heart.' Judge Ito polled each juror, and each affirmed the 'not guilty' vote. The judge warned them the media would be in hot pursuit and told them they are free to deal with them as they see fit. The panel had earlier said it did not want to speak with either the attorneys or the media. With the verdict read, Judge Ito addressed the long-suffering jurors. 'Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you for your service you have given us. The burdens we placed on you were enormous, and I can't begin to thank you for the time you have given on this case. I will meet with you privately later,' Ito told jurors before setting them free after 266 days of sequestration at a hotel. 'I want to caution you at this time that there is intense media interest in this case. The news media will probaby seek you out at your home or your place of business and I would implore the media to avoid harassing you or identifying you without your consent. Whether you wish to deal with the media is up to you....However, I warn you to expect the worst.' The judge then told the bailiffs to take Simpson to the county jail for processing and release him 'forthwith.' A white van carrying Simpson left the jail and headed for his home in a strange reprise of the infamous 'slow-speed chase' in which a fugitive Simpson and friend Al Cowlings rode the white Ford Bronco on a meandering trip that ended with his arrest at his mansion in the posh Brentwood section of Los Angeles. Cowlings was waiting at the mansion and the two old teammates hugged and slapped each other's backs. Over the afternoon, dozens of friends, family and lawyers swarmed into the estate, which was under seige by scores of reporters and camera crews. Some local residents videotaped members of the press who were trampling their yards. Outside the courthouse, hundreds of people on both sides of the question gathered in a circus-like, sometimes revival-like atmosphere. 'Finally we're getting to see some justice here in Los Angeles,' one young black man said. Police went on a tactical alert to deal with possible trouble following the verdicts, but there were no reports of violence. Danny Bakewell, leader of the Brotherhood Crusade, a black activist group, said he believed race did not play a part in the verdict. 'I think its condescending to say that (race played a role in the verdict),' Bakewell said. 'They heard the evidence. They proved beyond a reasonable doubt that O.J. was innocent. I think the jury did a fine job....Johnnie Cochran was brilliant, but so was (prosecutor) Chris Darden. We should be proud of Chris Darden.' But Bakewell also acknowledged that Simpson's deep pockets were a factor, saying that money was a 'defining moment' in the trial, a parody of what the prosecution had said of the man whose partial testimony was the only testimony the jury asked to hear again. more

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los angeles X X X hear again. Defense attorney Barry Scheck said the jury followed the evidence and reached the correct verdict. He said the prosecutors' timeline for the murders and other evidence such as a bloody sock found in Simpson's bedroom simply didn't wash. The jury, which included nine blacks, two whites and one Hispanic, had heard eight months of testimony before reaching its swift verdict Monday. Judge Ito held the verdicts so lead prosecutor Marcia Clark and chief defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran Jr. could be present in court. Jurors had asked to listen to a portion of the testimony of important prosecution witness Allan Park, a chauffeur who drove Simpson to the airport the night of the murders, before notifying Ito they had reached a verdict. Park testified that he did not see Simpson's white Ford Bronco in front of the football legend's estate about the time the prosecutors contend the murders occurred, and contradicted Simpson's alibi. The prosecution said Park was telling the jury when Simpson returned from committing two heinous murders, and his cellular phone records backed up their timeline. Park was one of the few witnesses who had no stake in the case -- either personal or professional -- and most analysts considered him a strong and truthful witness. After listening to about 55 minutes of Park's testimony, the jurors sent a note to Ito telling him they did not need to hear any more. The panel did not ask to hear the cross-examination of Park, or the portion where he described seeing a figure resembling Simpson run across the yard and into the house just moments before Simpson answered the door after Park had been ringing for several minutes. In her closing arguments, Clark had called Park's testimony 'the defining moment of the trial, saying it shows 'how the defense falls apart.' Prosecutors had told the jury to convict Simpson of two counts of first-degree murder, arguing that a wealth of physical evidence links Simpson to the slayings. During the prosecution's six-month case, government lawyers presented results of sophisticated DNA tests linking Simpson to blood evidence discovered at the murder scene, in Simpson's white Ford Bronco and at his estate. The state also presented evidence that Simpson had physically abused his ex-wife -- evidence the prosecution claimed supported their theory that Simpson killed her in a rage after she tried to estrange herself from him following a breakup. Simpson's team of attorneys claimed police and criminalists walked through and contaminated evidence, and suggested that police sprinkled blood on other evidence to set Simpson up because they believed he was guilty and did not want to lose another high-profile case. Chief defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. had urged the jury in his closing arguments to disregard the entire testimony of disgraced ex- police detective Mark Fuhrman and co-lead police investigator Philip Vannatter, claiming they lied on the stand as part of a cover-up. Defense lawyers have hinted that Fuhrman might have planted evidence. The defense was based on the four Cs: contamination, conspiracy, cover-up and corruption and Cochran pointed to the infamous glove demonstration in which Simpson appeared to have trouble getting on the so-called murder gloves. It was one of his themes in closing argument -- 'If it doesn't fit, you must acquit.'

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The only juror to speak with the press (Tuesday) following the stunning verdict the panel reached when it acquitted O.J. Simpson of murder says she believes they made the proper decision. Juror Brenda Moran of South-Central Los Angeles said, 'I think we did the right thing. In fact, I know we did.'

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