LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Twenty-five years ago today, a double murder in Brentwood would lead to an infamous freeway chase, the trial of the century and the downfall of an NFL star.
Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her Brentwood condominium on June 12, 1994. NFL star and ex-husband OJ Simpson was immediately considered a person of interest in the murders.
The events that followed next riveted the nation, forever changed the public’s perception of the legal system and ended with Simpson’s acquittal.
“For a lot of people, this was the first time that they actually saw what happened in the courtroom, and much of it bothered them,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor who served at the trial’s legal analyst for CBS News. “The issues of race bothered them, the celebrity lawyers bothered them, the theatrics bothered them. And we’re still living with some of that effect.”
It may have been 25 years since the murders, but the pain has always been fresh for Nicole Brown-Simpson’s family. Tanya Brown, her youngest sister, says the case has since given victims of domestic violence the power to take a stand.
“Thank God we’re talking about these issues and these causes that months before, years before we weren’t…we weren’t talking about it,” she said.
The crime and the trial led to many media phenomenon that have become a part of life these days.
The infamous slow-speed freeway chase in a white Ford Bronco gave rise to televised police pursuits, while the trial put celebrity lawyers in the spotlight. Simpson’s team of defense lawyers was known as the “Dream Team,” and included Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz and Robert Kardashian, who was the patriarch of the Kardashian family, the originators of the family reality TV show.
The trial also made Judge Lance Ito a household name, along with LA County’s district attorney – Gil Garcetti, who later made cameos in the police procedural “The Closer” and is the father of the current Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, who last year considered running for president in 2020.
Simpson was ultimately acquitted of the murders after a nearly nine-month trial known as “the trial of the century.” The televised trial riveted the nation, and Levenson said that it led to other trials becoming spectator sport.
Simpson, however, was later found liable for the murders of Brown and Goldman in a civil trial and was later found guilty in a botched robbery that Simpson said was an attempt to get back some of his football memorabilia he said had been stolen from him.