The “trial of the century” came to a close on this day in history, Oct. 3, 1995, with the acquittal of Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson for two counts of murder.
Simpson’s acquittal came nine months after the trial began — and about 16 months after Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman, were found brutally murdered outside her home in Los Angeles.
The acquittal of the former NFL star-turned-actor-and-broadcaster in the slayings marked the end of a legal process that played out largely on television for the world to see.
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Early in the morning of June 13, 1994, Brown Simpson and Goldman’s bodies were discovered. The two had been stabbed.
On June 17, 1994, four days later, Simpson and his friend Al Cowlings led police on a low-speed 90-minute chase through Los Angeles in a white Ford Bronco. That car chase was one of the most-watched television moments of the decade, interrupting even the NBA Finals.
An estimated 100 million people nationwide tuned in to watch or listen to the verdict announcement, according to reports.
Simpson was then arrested and charged with the murders.
On June 21, 1994, Simpson was arraigned and pled not guilty.
The trial was broadcast on television, with the lawyers and judges becoming celebrities throughout the proceedings.
Simpson’s lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, worked to sow doubt in the minds of the jury that his client was guilty.
DNA evidence, which was used heavily throughout the trial, was still a relatively unknown technology at the time.
Cochran had Simpson don a glove that was discovered at the crime scene — later proclaiming that if it “doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
When the jury announced the verdict of not guilty, Simpson smiled and mouthed the words “thank you.”
After Simpson was found not guilty, the Goldman and Brown families sued Simpson in a civil court, alleging wrongful death.
The civil trial began in October 1996.
Simpson was later found to be responsible for the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman.
The Brown and Goldman families were awarded $33.5 million in damages.
Simpson’s legal troubles did not end there.
On Oct. 3, 2008, 15 years to the day after he was acquitted of the murders of Brown Simpson and Goldman, Simpson was found guilty of 12 felonies, including kidnapping and armed robbery.
He was later sentenced to 33 years in prison.
After serving for nine years, Simpson was paroled in 2017.
No one has been convicted of the murders of Brown Simpson and Goldman to this day.
Simpson today is 76 years old.