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What happened to key players in O.J. Simpson trial

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Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, were murdered on June 12, 1994, in Brown Simpson's Los Angeles home. Suspicion quickly fell on Simpson's ex-husband and NFL Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson, who was said to have been enraged by his ex's relationships. From Simpson's slow-speed chase on a Los Angeles freeway to Johnnie Cochran's one-liner in his closing arguments, the 1995 trial, which lasted for months and was aired on national television, was hailed as the "trial of the century." Twenty years later, we take a look at some of the key players in the real-life crime drama and where they are today.

Nicole Brown was a waitress who married the NFL star five years after he retired from football. They divorced after seven years of marriage. They had two children, Sydney Simpson, who now lives in Atlanta, and Justin Simpson, who stayed in Florida after his father went to prison. Ron Goldman was a waiter at an Italian restaurant in Brentwood, Calif., where Nicole Brown Simpson ate her last dinner. Goldman was returning a pair of lost glasses to Brown Simpson's home when the killer attacked them.

 

O.J. Simpson

THEN: O.J. Simpson, who had been divorced from Nicole Brown Simpson for two years, was missing in action for five days after the murder of his ex-wife and Goldman. He turned up on national television on June 17 in a 1993 white Ford Bronco, when he and his friend and former teammate Al Cowlings engaged in a low-speed chase on a Los Angeles freeway. The trial began on Jan. 24, 1995, and on Oct. 3, 1995, Simpson was found not guilty of all charges. However, in 1997, he was found guilty of the murders in a civil suit and was ordered to pay $33 million in damages.

NOW: On Oct. 3, 2008, 13 years to the date after he was found not guilty of the Brown Simpson and Goldman murders, Simpson was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. Last July, he was granted parole in relation to the robbery, but he remains in prison until at least 2017.

 

Robert Shapiro

THEN: Robert Shapiro was a Los Angeles criminal defence attorney who had represented several other athletes including José Canseco and Darryl Strawberry. Initially, he was the head attorney for Simpson's legal "dream team," but he later relinquished power to Johnnie Cochran.

NOW: Last year, Shapiro represented Lamar Odom in his driving-under-the-influence case. He is also a co-founder of LegalZoom and Shoedazzle.

 

Johnnie Cochran

Throughout the trial, Johnnie Cochran poked holes in the prosecution's case, and perhaps most famously came up with the line, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," after Simpson tried on bloody gloves from the scene of the crime in court. Critics of Cochran's defence say he unnecessarily made race an issue in the case. In 2005, Cochran died from brain cancer. He was 68.

 

Marcia Clark

THEN: Marcia Clark was the lead prosecutor on the case. She was viewed as shrewd and calculating and someone who would stop at next to nothing to convict Simpson. She resigned shortly after she lost the case, in 1997, just before she released her book, Without a Doubt, for which she received a $4-million advance.

NOW: Last year, Clark appeared as an attorney on ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars. She has also written three novels about a fictional Los Angeles prosecutor.

 

Christopher Darden

THEN: Christopher Darden was a co-prosecutor in the Simpson case, assisting Marcia Clark. Darden received a lot of backlash from legal experts for his early fumbles in the case. It was also Darden who suggested Simpson try on the gloves that didn't fit.

NOW: His website says Darden operates a private practice in Los Angeles, specializing in criminal defence. In 2012, he appeared in the news again for claiming Johnnie Cochran tampered with the bloody gloves. "I think Johnnie tore the lining," Darden said at a panel discussion at Pace Law School in New York. "There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.'s fingers couldn't go all the way up into the glove."

 

Mark Fuhrman

THEN: Mark Fuhrman was a Los Angeles homicide detective. He testified he went to Simpson's house on the night of the murder and discovered the bloody glove at the scene of the crime at Simpson's home. Fuhrman was deemed a bad cop after taped interviews were released of him using the word "n --." He was charged with perjury for lying under oath about having ever used the word.

NOW: Most recently, Fuhrman has appeared on the Fox Channel shows Justice With Judge Jeanine, America's Newsroom and The Sean Hannity Show.

Lance Ito

THEN: Judge Lance Ito was appointed to the judicial bench in 1989. As judge of this high-profile case for the Los Angeles Superior Court, Ito had the power to decide whether the trial would be televised, and it subsequently became one of the biggest television events in American history.

NOW: In 2012, Ito's courtroom in Los Angeles was closed due to budget cuts. He still works for the Superior Court by appointing experts in death-penalty cases.

 

Kato Kaelin

THEN: While O.J. and Nicole were married, Kato Kaelin lived in their guest house. He was an important witness for the defence as he provided an alibi for Simpson for the night of the murders.

NOW: In 2013, Kaelin appeared on The Eric Andre Show and The Real Potheads of North Hollywood. In 2012, Kaelin was hosting a sports show called Tailgating With Kato.

 

Al Cowlings

THEN: Al Cowlings drove that infamous white 1993 Ford Bronco down a Los Angeles freeway. He and Simpson were football teammates from high school to the pros.

NOW: Two years ago, TMZ found Cowlings in a parking lot, walking up to a new white truck. In 2009, Cowlings joined the University of Southern California's Athletic Hall of Fame.

 

-- The Root

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2014 A24

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