How OJ won

I binge-watched the entirety of ESPN’s new documentary series on O.J. Simpson over Fourth of July weekend. It is eight hours long and it is stunning.

As an 8 year-old during the O.J. murder trial in 1994-95, I had no idea what was going on. My attention was probably on beating Super Metroid. I didn’t know O.J. held the single season rushing yards record, that he was a major black icon of the 70s and 80s, or the details of his trial, so this is a good history lesson.

The central tension in the murder case is that the evidence that proved he was guilty beyond any doubt, yet he is acquitted. They found Nicole Simpson’s blood in O.J.’s white bronco. O.J. owned the shoes that matched bloody footprints at the crime scene, of which there were only 200 pairs made. How could the jury have acquitted him?

Other factors made for an involved case. O.J. assembled a legal “Dream Team” which included Johnny Cochran and Robert Kardashian, costing him $50k a day. During the trial, the D.A. was clever enough to have O.J. to try on the bloody glove found in his backyard. It didn’t fit. The cop who found that bloody glove? He turned out to be a racist bigot, leading the public to suspect a conspiracy with racial motivations were behind the case.

It seems like a poorly executed prosecution on top of sloppy police work. But then you hear one of the juror’s from the predominantly black jury explain her decision: this was her own payback for Rodney King, a victim of police brutality in L.A. a few years earlier. Cops get off all the time for using excessive force against and killing innocent black persons. She wanted to make sure that a black man would win in the trial of the century. As a member of a group endlessly oppressed by this criminal justice system, why would she vote any other way?