The O. J. Simpson Murder Trial (Part VI)

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Summation

In closing arguments, Darden ridiculed the notion that police officers might have wanted to frame Simpson. He questioned why, if the LAPD was against Simpson, they went to his house eight times on domestic violence calls against Brown between 1986 and 1988 but did not arrest him; they only arrested him on charges of abuse in January 1989, when photos of Brown's face were entered into the record. Darden noted the police did not arrest Simpson for five days after the 1994 murders.

The prosecution told the jury in closing arguments that Fuhrman was a racist, but said that this should not detract from the factual evidence that showed Simpson's guilt. In Cochran's summation to the jury, he emphasized that Fuhrman was proved to have repeatedly referred to black people as "niggers" and also to have boasted of beating young black men in his role as a police officer. Cochran compared Fuhrman to Adolf Hitler and referred to him as "a genocidal racist, a perjurer, America's worst nightmare and the personification of evil". In response, Fred Goldman referred to Cochran himself as "the worst kind of racist ever" and a "sick man" for making such a comparison.

Verdict

Fears grew that race riots, similar to the riots in 1992, would erupt across Los Angeles and the rest of the country if Simpson were convicted of the murders. As a result, all Los Angeles police officers were put on 12-hour shifts. The police arranged for more than 100 police officers on horseback to surround the Los Angeles County courthouse on the day the verdict was announced, in case of rioting by the crowd. President Bill Clinton was briefed on security measures if rioting occurred nationwide.

At 10:07 a.m. on October 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted on both counts of murder. The only testimony reviewed was that of limo driver Alan Park. The jury arrived at the verdict by 3:00 p.m. on October 2, after four hours of deliberation, but Ito postponed the announcement. After the verdict was read, juror number six, 44-year-old Lionel Cryer, gave Simpson a black power raised fist salute. The New York Times reported that Cryer was a former member of the revolutionary nationalist Black Panther Party that prosecutors had "inexplicably left on the panel".

An estimated 100 million people worldwide watched or listened to the verdict announcement. Long-distance telephone call volume declined by 58% and trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange decreased by 41%. Water usage decreased as people avoided using bathrooms. So much work stopped that the verdict cost an estimated $480 million in lost productivity. The U.S. Supreme Court received a message on the verdict during oral arguments, with the justices quietly passing the note to each other while listening to the attorney's presentation. Congressmen canceled press conferences, with one telling reporters, "Not only would you not be here, but I wouldn't be here, either".

Reaction to the verdict

After the verdict against Simpson, most blacks surveyed said they believed justice had been served. Most whites (75%) disagreed with the verdict and believed that it was racially motivated. Discussion of the racial elements of the case continued long after the trial's end. An NBC poll taken in 2004 reported that, although 77% of 1,186 people sampled thought Simpson was guilty, only 27% of blacks in the sample believed so, compared to 87% of whites. In 2016, FiveThirtyEight reported that most black people now think Simpson was guilty. According to a 2016 poll, 83% of white Americans and 57% of black Americans believe that Simpson committed the murders.

Shapiro admitted the defense played the "race card," "from the bottom of the deck." On Sunday, February 12, 1995, a long motorcade traveled to Brentwood and the jurors, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and Judge Ito made a two-hour inspection of the crime scene. It was followed by a three-hour tour of Simpson's estate. Simpson was under guard by several officers but did not wear handcuffs; he waited outside the crime scene in and around an unmarked police car and was permitted to enter his house. Simpson's defense team had switched out his photos of whites for blacks, including switching a picture of a nude Paula Barbieri (Simpson's girlfriend at the time, who was white) for a Norman Rockwell painting from Cochran's office.

Critics of the jury's not-guilty verdict contended that the deliberation time was unduly short relative to the length of the trial. Some said that the jurors, most of whom did not have any college education, did not understand the forensic evidence. In post-trial interviews, several jurors said that they believed Simpson probably did commit the murders, but that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Three jurors together wrote and published a book called Madam Foreman, in which they described how their perception of police errors, not race, led to their verdict. They said that they considered Darden to be a token black assigned to the case by the prosecutor's office. In Edelman Ezra 's 2016 documentary O.J.: Made in America, juror number 9, Carrie Bess, voiced her own personal dislike for Nicole for apparently "allowing" herself to be abused, and said she believed "90% of the jury" actually decided to acquit Simpson as payback for the Rodney King incident, not because they believed in his innocence, and when asked if she believed the decision was correct, Bess merely shrugged indifferently.

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