LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The double homicide happened in the late hours of June 12, 1994.
Nicole Brown Simpson — OJ Simpson’s estranged wife and mother of his two youngest children — and her friend Ronald Goldman, were found stabbed to death outside Brown’s West LA condo.
Four days after the murder, LA was stunned when police announced OJ was a wanted man with a warrant out for his arrest.
The former football player turned actor, TV pitchman and fixture on LA’s social scene was overnight, a wanted man and accused murderer.
Simpson said he would turn himself in — but didn’t show up. That’s when police announced he was a fugitive and they were actively searching for him.
Simpson, a gun to his head, was being driven around in a white Ford Bronco by friend Al Cowlings.
The fugitive’s good friend, lawyer Robert Kardashian (now known as Kim’s father) read a letter at a press conference that OJ had written. Simpson said he had nothing to do with his estranged wife’s murder or the murder of her friend, at the time, a waiter at Mezzaluna restaurant.
The trial of the century would be next.
CBS2’s Pat Harvey recently sat down with Carl Douglas, a member of OJ’s “Dream Team” — a group of some of LA’s highest-profile defense attorneys, among them Robert Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey and Johnnie Cochran.
Douglas showed Harvey a group photograph of the dream team.
“And Johnny wrote, ‘To my main man who always made me look good,'” recalls Douglas.
Douglas had already been working with Cochran on the Michael Jackson trial when they formed the team.
DA Christopher Darden, as late as 2012, made comments that he believed that the glove OJ tried on during the trial was tampered with by Johnnie Cochran or someone in his firm.
Darden has been quoted as saying, “The defense manipulated that glove so that it did not appear to look as if fit.”
Douglas denies the charge.
“It really is unfortunate to me that Chris has been unable to get past this sordid chapter in his life. It is shameful and quite frankly embarrassing,” Douglas says.
Douglas concedes there are still hard feelings from the prosecution to the defense.
“I see Chris Darden in the hallways of criminal court and I make him acknowledge me and shake my hand. He probably would want to avoid it if he could have his way,” Douglas says.
The defense was trying to get their client acquitted — which they did. Douglas said the stakes were high.
“In any high profile, high powered litigation, we are playing to win. Both sides [were],” Douglas says.
Douglas candidly admits now that all the attorneys were jockeying for any advantage they could get.
“Wednesday nights and Saturday nights were conjugal visit nights. We called it ‘Nookie Night’ and we wanted to make sure that there would be highlights on Wednesdays and Fridays by the off chance that some of the information may filter through to the jurors during their conjugal visits. It’s not just something that slick defense lawyers did. The prosecutors did it, too. They called theirs ‘leaks’ and no one would ever know the source,” Douglas says.
The jury had been sequestered for nearly nine months.
Douglas said when the clerk dropped off the verdict forms and they jury rang the buzzer with a verdict about eight minutes later, he knew OJ was going to be acquitted.
“And I knew — just mechanically — it would be impossible for 12 people to take five different votes and have those votes all be unanimous in an eight minute time frame,” Douglas says. ” I remember going back into the lock up and talking with Juice — we called him Juice — and telling Juice why I was just very certain that there was not going to be a guilty verdict.”
The verdict of not guilty, of course, came on October 3, 1995.
Nearly 20 years later, Harvey asks Douglas if he believes OJ was innocent.
“Now, I don’t think he killed them and I don’t think the prosecution proved their case and I think the police officers lied and cheated to convict someone whom they thought was guilty of murder,” Douglas says.
But the lawyer says he doesn’t argue with people who believed Simpson was guilty — with absolutely no doubt. On this 20th anniversary, Douglas believes it is more important to remember the victims.
“Two people lost their lives far too early and for that we will pause and remember,” Douglas says.
[Note: Pat Harvey said Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden declined to comment for this story. And on CBS2 News at 11 p.m. on Monday, Harvey continues the story with an interview with Goldman’s sister, Kim, about the brother she lost and the forgiveness she has never been able to find.]