Today in History: O.J. Simpson is acquitted of murder

OJ: Trial Of The Century
OJ: Trial Of The Century

Twenty years ago today, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the brutal 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

The court case spanned 252 days and was dubbed, "the trial of the century" by the media. Simpson's "dream team" of lawyers used creative methods to twist evidence in order to convince jurors of Simpson's innocence, or essentially, that his guilt had not been proved "beyond a reasonable doubt."

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Orenthal James Simpson gained recognition while playing football at the University of Southern California, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1968 and earned the nickname "The Juice." He then rose to fame while playing in the National Football League for 11 seasons, where he broke multiple records. His stellar record led to his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Hall of Fame. After his retirement, Simpson held a career as a football broadcaster and actor.

In 1985, Simpson married television personality Nicole Brown, but the couple had a long history of trouble. Simpson pleaded no contest to spousal battery in 1989 before Brown filed for divorce in 1992.

On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death in the front yard of her condo in Los Angeles. Brentwood Police charged O.J. Simpson with the double murder five days later.

In those five days, police had gathered enough evidence against O.J. Simpson to charge him with the murders, including the fact that Simpson had no alibi for during the time of the murders. A black, leather glove was also found outside Simpson's home that matched one found at the crime scene. Blood tested from the glove showed DNA belonging to Simpson and the two victims.

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However, Simpson refused to surrender when the police issued a warrant for his arrest on June 17. Instead, Simpson sent law officials on a low-speed chase in a white Ford Bronco, being driven by his former teammate Al Cowlings, who told police Simpson was suicidal and had a gun to his head. Authorities eventually got the former NFL star to surrender. In the vehicle, cops found a passport, a disguise kit with a fake moustache and a revolver.

Simpson pleaded not guilty to a judge and the criminal trial led to one of the most widely covered and controversial media events in history. Among many of the football records held by Simpson, he also broke the record for the longest trial ever held in the state of California and was captured by cameras everywhere.

Despite the mountain of evidence against him, Simpson's dream team of lawyers, including Robert Kardashian (yes, that Kardashian), used creative methods to convince the jury that Simpson had been framed by racist police. They painted their client to be yet another victim of a white judicial system and spent weeks attacking the damning pile of evidence, causing the jurors' doubt to grow.

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Despite the trail taking 252 days, jurors only took four hours to deliberate. On October 3, 1995, approximately 140 million people tuned in on various devices to hear Simpson's verdict of "not guilty" of both murders.

Although the trial was over, Simpson's legal troubles didn't end there. He was forced to pay $33.5 million to the victims' families after he was found guilty in a later trial of being guilty of several charges related to the murders. However, due to his expensive legal fees and few assets, Simpson has avoided paying the majority of it.

In 2008, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison after being found guilty of 12 charges including armed robbery and kidnapping, after he was arrested in Las Vegas for breaking into a hotel room and steal memorabilia at gunpoint, that he claimed had originally belonged to him.

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