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Orenthal James Simpson, more commonly known as OJ Simpson, became the most popular man in the United States. This popularity was not due to him being a famous football player who had the greatest running backs in America or any of his roles as an actor, but because he was the defendant in the most publicized and popular murder case in American history. It was the 'Trial of the Century'. OJ was accused of the murder of his ex-wife Nichole Brown Simpson and another Ronald Goldman, who was merely there to deliver a pair of glasses, outside Nichole's residence. The murders were a vicious display of humanity, where Nichole had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck, such that her neck was gaping through which the Larynx could be seen and her vertebra was also incised.
The suspicion was immediately on OJ. Many testified that there were incidences of OJ stalking Nichole and her complaints of fear from her ex-husband. Furthermore, the evidence from the crime scene and the testimony from witnesses were overwhelming. The murder of Nichole and Brown were capable of proof beyond doubt, as is required for a criminal conviction in murder cases, had it not been the carelessness of the Los Angeles Police Department. In a civil case, guilt had only to be proven according to the "preponderance of the evidence," rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt." In other words its purpose is to decide whether it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the crime. (Jones, n.d) The trials started with Simpson pleading 'not guilty' to both the murders. The prosecution decided not to ask for the death penalty and instead sought a life imprisonment sentence. The facts of the trials were such that the jury ordered Simpson to be held without bail, although this jury was dismissed two days later before any indictment, due to the excess media coverage. Once the trial began, a series of evidence were presented by the prosecution and deified by the defense.
The evidence and their handling or more precisely their mishandling changed the course of the entire case. What could have been a straight forward murder trail turned into a controversial case with a potential of causing widespread racial riots. Initially the prosecution presented evidence that Simpson had a history of physically abusing Nichole. The trial began with the LA County prosecutor playing a 9-1-1 call that Nichole made on 1 January, 1989 claiming that O.J would physically harm her. As more evidence unfolded the most dominant proved to be the DNA evidence. This was because there were no murder witnesses and the murder weapon was not admissible. It was partly the fault of the LAPD that the two evidences could not be used during trial as both, the witness who saw Simpson's white Bronco speed away and the man, who sold the murder weapon to Simpson a few weeks ago, sold their stories to the tabloid press. The LAPD should have been efficient enough to secure the two evidences.
The LAPD has a strong case with Simpson having no alibi for the time the murders were committed. A neighbor had seen O.J's Bronco being driven away from Nichole's condo at the time of murders; between 10:15 and 10:40 PM. This was reinstated by the testimony of the Limousine driver Allan Park who claimed that he did not see the white Bronco parked while looking for Simpson's house in the area. He further testified that he saw a man with the appearance of Simpson walk into the house when Kato Kaelin, a friend of Simpson who lived in the guest house, walked to the front to open the gate for Park. The defense tried to negate this point by asserting that in such a small window of time it was not possible to assume that Simpson drove all the way to Nichole's place, killed two people, cleaned and hide the bloody clothing and then drove all the way back. Problem surfaced when the defense changed multiple stories, like Simpson sleeping or practicing golf at that time. The odds were against Simpson.
The strongest evidence for the Prosecution was the blood samples collected at the crime scene and various other spots. It was most unfortunate that in the presence of such evidence the prosecution faced a fierce challenge from the defense. The prosecution had been cautious enough to have it tested from different labs. Yet the defense launched a counter-attack that the samples had been recklessly collected making them unreliable. Furthermore, the shoe prints found at the scene were a size 12, similar to what Simpson wore, and were a rare Italian made design of Bruno Magli. The prosecution again carelessly assumed that they were Simpson's as they could only be purchased from a place in New York where Simpson sometimes shopped. Such vagueness was counter attacked by the defense that there was no evidence of their client purchasing such shoes. The crumpled socks found in Simpson's room were found to have blood stains. The defense again asserted that Simpson was being plotted as blood had soaked from one side of the sock to the other, which should not have happened had someone been wearing them. According to the prosecution the hair and fibers found also placed Simpson at the crime Scene. But the defense argued against this evidence that the hair can only show that the murderer was black and not that it was Simpson and unlike Simpson's hair sample the one found on the crime scene appeared to have no dandruff. The dark colored sweat suit was also never recovered to prove that it belonged to Simpson.
The pair of gloves bought by Nichole for O.J was also a strong evidence, as one of which was found at the murder scene and the other one behind the guest house in Simpson's residence. The defense not only blamed that the glove was framed at Simpson's but also took advantage of the point that it did not fit Simpson in the courtroom. The blood found in the car, the White Bronco, was according to the prosecution a mixture of Simpson and another's blood. The defense responded by again alleging that the police had tampered with it by planting Simpson. The genetic mixture showed that it could not be reliable evidence. Also no blood was found on the car's driving pedals. This fact did not settle in with the defense who alleged that if Simpson had walked away from the murder scene which was a display of huge blood loss, there ought to be blood on his shoes and hence, on the driving pedals.
The fact that in the presence of strong evidences the families of the victims only sought justice in civil trail and not in criminal trial was at worst the failure of LAPD. Had it not been for the lower level of proof required in the civil case the families of Nichole and Goldman would perhaps have been left without justice completely. The evidence collected by Denni Fung, a criminalist, was criticized to which he even admitted, 'having missed a few drops on a fence near the bodies' which he further said he, ' returned several weeks afterwards to collect them'. He also admitted not to have used gloves while collecting some of the evidence. Also the police scientist who collected blood samples from Simpson to compare with the other evidence collected was not only a trainee but was careless enough to carry the sample in her lab coat for a day before putting it in exhibit. The defense did not spare to challenge these mishandlings and alleging them to be inaccurate and inadmissible.
The LAPD was under great scrutiny due to detective Mark Fuhrman. Time and again the defense alleged him to have plotted and framed evidence against Simpson. Fuhrman's history shows that in 1984 he stopped a young black man and put him in a choke in front of a movie theater in a predominantly white area. Also the defense caught hold of audio tapes in which Fuhrman repeatedly used the word 'nigger' to describe black people. The Fuhrman tapes became one of the cornerstones of the defense's case that Fuhrman's testimony lacked testimony. (Wikipedia, n.d) Later on the prosecution, in its closing arguments, stated that he was in fact a racist. The prosecution should not have hired him in the first place since this weakened their case and also it threatened to cause racial riots in Los Angeles and throughout the nation.
The DNA is a foolproof procedure, and if documented, collected and preserved properly can be used years later as well. It can help to establish the link between an individual and a criminal act. Mistakes that were made in this case, I believe, reflected the works of an immature. Caring on from the mistakes in this particular case, collection of evidence without proper equipment or bare handed should be avoided which may cause the evidence to…[continue]
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