I had never seen so much blood in my life.
As the coroner's wagon pulled away -- there it was. Puddles of it. Some of it had oozed down the cracks in between the pathway pavers and toward the sidewalk. As I looked closer I could see paw prints from a large dog and patterned traces of wispy blood that its dragging leash had left behind. Up toward the gate of the fancy condo statuesque Agapanthus stood, its purple flower heads dotted with drops of this blood.
It was June 1994, about 10 AM on a sunny Sunday in Brentwood, California. My cameraman and I, the reporter on duty that weekend, had been assigned to go to the home of Nicole Brown Simpson. Word was O.J.'s ex-wife had been murdered.
My first thoughts that beautiful morning were: Why didn't someone take a hose and wash away this horror - -and -- where were the police?
With no one to stop us, and with camera rolling, we gingerly tiptoed to the gate and opened it. Across a shallow courtyard was the plate glass window behind which Nicole had lived. We could see inside the cozy living room with its overhead balcony leading off to the side bedrooms. Candles were still burning, framed photos of a smiling Nicole and her kids were everywhere. Outside, there were bloody footprints and what seemed to be a bloody hand print on the side of the house. Eerie, and to this day I remember it vividly.
A mostly black jury in downtown Los Angeles would ultimately find O.J. Simpson not guilty of the throat slashing murder of Nicole and her Good Samaritan friend, Ron Goldman, who was simply returning a pair of glasses left at a local restaurant that fateful night. No matter that a drop of OJ Simpson's blood was found on the toe-box of Goldman's boot.
Now, an all-white jury in Las Vegas is sitting in judgment of Simpson. This time the charges include armed robbery and kidnapping stemming from an incident in which sports memorabilia dealers say they were held in a hotel room and threatened by an angry Simpson and a group of goons with guns. The entire scene was immortalized on audio tape, including this opening, snarling statement from Simpson, "Don't let nobody out of here. Think you can steal my s-- and sell it?" And this charming statement from the Juice: "Stand the f--- up before it gets ugly in here!"
It's a sense of entitlement many famous people seem to adopt. "I am different, I don't have to abide by society's rules, I can do what I want and explain myself out of trouble later."
O.J. Simpson's elevated sense of status in the world brings him to yet another courtroom where he will once again have at the core of his defense the idea that when you're someone like him the rules of conduct should be different. His defense seems to be that he believed he was simply taking back what was rightfully his -- artifacts from his past life.
It seems to me if that's his defense he should immediately be convicted because he's admitting what he did. The law clearly says you can't take back items using threats and guns.
No matter, his faithful attorney will continue to claim that poor O.J. is just a victim of circumstance. The shoulder-shrug position will be that Simpson's celebrity attracts trouble, not the other way around.
In 1994 lawyers said Simpson was the victim of a misbehaving ex-wife and over-zealous detectives. This time he'll claim he was victimized by unscrupulous sports dealers and over-zealous detectives. He'll maintain he had no idea the men with him were packing heat.
This jury will not be allowed to hear testimony about the murders. They won't hear the more recent 911 calls by Sidney Simpson to Florida police about her out of control father, or about the December 2000 road rage incident in which Simpson was charged with battery and auto burglary. (He was acquitted.) Also, there were the investigations (plural) that this Heisman Trophy winner may have roughed up his girlfriend and that he pirated signals from Direct TV. For that a judge ordered him to pay a 25 thousand dollar fine. Gee trouble just seems to follow this guy, right?
Our system of justice does not usually allow a jury to take into account a defendant's past bad acts. But O.J., by the very nature of who he is, drags baggage into that Nevada court room anyway. Some court watchers openly wonder if he can get a fair trial. Others wonder if this guy will ever face true justice.
I wonder if justice will ever come for that brutal, bloody scene I came across in Brentwood, California all those years ago.
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