June 12, 2014— -- It's been twenty years since O.J. Simpson's name was splashed across headlines in connection with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
The murder case -- and subsequent trial -- of Simpson captivated America. The trial was televised for more than 135 days in 1995 and the verdict was watched by more than 150 million people.
Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death shortly after midnight on June 13, 1994. Police who investigated the scene determined that they were murdered on the night of June 12 and cops immediately suspected Brown's ex-husband, former Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson.
Simpson spent the days following the murder holed up at the home of his attorney, Robert Kardashian, who told police that Simpson would turn himself in on June 17. When Simpson didn't show, his lawyers held a news conference and read a statement from Simpson that many interpreted as a suicide note.
Police then began a frantic search for Simpson, who was spotted in the white Ford Bronco around 6:30 p.m. that night. As cops told him to pull over they saw he had a gun and dropped back and followed the car at a low speed as the vehicle headed to Simpson's home. Later, recordings were released of a phone conversation between an LAPD detective and Simpson that took place in the car in which the former football star had threatened to kill himself.
The Defense Team
Simpson's defense team became famously known as the "Dream Team" during the trial. Johnnie Cochran became the star, along with Robert Kardashian, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, Gerald Uelmen, Carl E. Douglas and Francis Lee Bailey.
Marcia Clark rose to fame as the star prosecutor in the trial and even became a tabloid obsession herself, as the National Enquirer published topless photos of her taken on a beach and the country obsessed over her hair and makeup. After the trial, Clark said she felt "such guilt" about Simpson's acquittal. She stopped working as a special trials lawyer and moved to the suburbs with her kids, going on to contribute legal analysis to several news outlets.
Clark was joined by Deputy District Attorney Christopher A. Darden, who became best known for asking Simpson to try on the leather glove that had been found at the crime scene.
One of the most famous days in the trial was the day that Simpson was asked to try on a glove that was found at the scene of the crime. Simpson's defense team stipulated that he wear a latex glove to try it on. As the country watched, Simpson tried on the glove and found it to be too tight.
Later, in his closing statements, Cochran hammered home the point by saying over and over again, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
Kato Kaelin was a friend of Simpson's who became a star at the trial, with his long locks and meandering answers about what really happened the night of the murder.
Mark Fuhrman was the controversial investigator from the LAPD who found the infamous bloody glove. The defense accused Fuhrman of planting one of the gloves as part of a racist effort to frame Simpson. He was later discredited and convicted of perjury after testifying that he did not use the n-word when recordings of him surfaced using the word.
Judge Lance Ito presided over the nine-month-long trial in downtown Los Angeles. He became such a celebrity that the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" had a recurring bit called "The Dancing Itos" in which five impersonators performed choreographed dances.
More than 90 million people watched the car chase on TV, and many stayed tuned in for the entirety of the Simpson case as it went to trial. Court TV rose to prominence as the place to watch trial coverage all hours of the day, while supermarket tabloids ran stories constantly about those involved in the case. Evening newscasts made it the most covered story of the year in 1995.
Hundreds stood outside the courthouse during the trial and on the day of the verdict. During the verdict, cameras captured a gathering of black viewers at AME Baptist Church in Los Angeles reacting to the the acquittal, cheering and crying at the result.