The O.J. Simpson Trial: Where Are They Now?
Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr., left, delivers closing arguments Wednesday, Sept. 27, 1995, during the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial at the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building, while prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, second from right, and defense attorney Peter Neufeld, right, listen. (AP Photo/Vince Bucci, Pool)
AP Photo/Vince Bucci, Pool
It was the summer of 1995, and 14-year-old me was looking forward to three months of carefree languishing. I would have the house to myself while my parents were at work, so I could eat all the candy I wanted, talk on the phone for hours, and finally watch my soap opera regularly again. Marlena on Days of Our Lives was possessed by the devil. It was insane. (This was before DVR, when you had to set your VCR’s timer to literally record the episode onto a VHS tape — and the TV had to be on the right channel, even if it was off. How did we get anything done in such archaic times?!)
Alas, NBC had other plans for me. Because when I went to turn on the TV promptly at 2 P.M. on that first day of summer break, ready to bask in the glow of Marlena’s Satan eyes, I instead found myself staring into the vacant gaze of O.J. Simpson. For that entire summer, nearly every episode of Days was preempted until late at night, in favor of airing the Simpson trial. I was angry at first, but I didn’t have a driver’s license and I was a bit of a loner anyway, so I sat on the couch the entire summer and became obsessed with O.J. Simpson, the Dream Team, Kato Kaelin, and the trial of the century.
Thanks to American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson, we recently had the chance to see it all play out again. Only this time, Ross from Friends is Kim Kardashian’s dad.
To get up to speed, here’s a little refresher course on some of the key players from the O.J. Simpson trial and what they’re up to now. (P.S. In the fall of 1995, an exorcism was performed on Marlena and she was freed from the Devil’s clutches.)
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THEN: Duh, standing trial for the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He maintained his innocence and was acquitted at the end of a lengthy televised trial in 1995.
NOW: Oof, where to begin? In 1997, Simpson lost a civil suit filed by the Goldman family to the tune of $33.5 million, very little of which he’s since paid, though $500K was delivered to the family after his Heisman Trophy was auctioned off.
In 1996, Simpson partnered with a ghostwriter on a book called If I Did It, in which Simpson presented a “hypothetical” description of what happened the night Brown Simpson and Goldman were murdered. The book was originally supposed to be published by Regan Books, but after a public outcry and the vehement objections from the victims’ loved ones, the release was canceled. In 2007, a judge awarded the rights to the book to the Goldman family, who were still owed the vast majority of their civil settlement. The Goldman family found another publisher and released the newly retitled If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, but with comments from the Goldman family and journalist Dominick Dunne, who had covered the original trial for Vanity Fair. The icing on the cake? On the book’s cover, the “If” in the title was written in significantly smaller type so it actually appeared to read I Did It. Damn.
Simpson continued to get in trouble with the law following his acquittal, from his 2001 arrest for simple battery and burglary, to a 2002 arrest for “speeding through a manatee-protection zone,” to a 2004 suit filed by DirectTV who accused Simpson of pirating their satellite TV service. Then, in 2007, Simpson was arrested and charged with multiple felony counts, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon for robbing sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas casino-hotel. In 2008, he was convicted and sentenced to 33 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after nine years. On July 20, 2017, Simpson was released on parole.
THEN: The aspiring actor lived in Simpson’s guesthouse at the time of the murders, and was called as a witness to testify about Simpson’s behavior and movements both before and after the time Brown and Goldman were believed to have been killed. His testimony was inconsistent with Simpson’s version of events, but Kaelin ultimately was best known not for what he said in his testimony, but the flaky, rambling manner in which he said it, earning him prosecutor Marcia Clark’s ire and making him the butt of many late-night jokes.
NOW: After Simpson was acquitted, the National Examiner put Kaelin’s mug on the cover alongside the headline “Cops think Kato did it!” and he sued for libel. A federal judge threw out his suit, saying that the story itself was not libelous, but Kaelin won on appeal, thus establishing a new precedent that says headlines can be considered libel.
Otherwise, Kaelin has managed to make a career out of being himself, appearing in movies, TV shows, late night sketches, reality TV, and game shows. I once saw him eating sushi in Burbank, so there’s that.
THEN: If you were alive in June 1994, you were probably among the 95 million people in the United States who watched police pursue a 1993 white Ford Bronco down a Southern California highway, with Simpson sitting shotgun. The driver of the vehicle was Simpson’s childhood friend and former football pro Al Cowlings, who claimed Simpson put a gun to his own head and threatened to kill himself if Cowlings didn’t drive him to his home in Brentwood. When they arrived, Simpson was arrested for the murders of Brown Simpson and Goldman.
Cowlings had his own money-making scheme in mind. During the trial, he held an unannounced press conference down the block from the courthouse, and announced that he would be taking questions from the public about everything but the murders and the trial via a 900 number. There are unconfirmed reports that, thanks to the $2-per-minute cost, Cowlings made over $1 million from this 900 number.
NOW: Cowlings would apparently like to leave the past in the past, because he threatened to sue F/X over its series American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson, in which he was played by none other than Malcolm Jamal Warner, aka Theo Huxtable. Cowlings was no doubt worried that the series will once again raise suspicions that he helped Simpson cover up the crime; shortly after the murders, a porn star alleged that Cowlings told her that he disposed of the murder weapon, and that the knife used to stab Brown Simpson and Goldman “was sleeping with the fishes.” He denied it.
As for the white Ford Bronco? Cowlings sold it to a collector for $75,000, nearly twice its original value. However, the new owner has been making the most of his purchase by reportedly renting it out for events and parties. Like I said, everyone tried to make a buck off the O.J. Simpson trial.
Denise Brown, sister of murder victim Nicole Brown-Simpson, cries as she testifies on the witness stand during the O.J. Simpson murder trial 03 February in Los Angeles. [POO/AFP/Getty Images]
THEN: Nicole Brown Simpson’s older sister Denise was devastated by her sister’s brutal death and was a fixture in the courtroom throughout the Simpson trial, acting as the family’s spokesperson. Denise testified as well, telling the court about her former brother-in-law’s temper and possessiveness over Nicole.
NOW: For the past 20 years, Brown has been an advocate for victims of domestic violence and has been active in raising awareness and money for shelters and resources through the Nicole Brown Foundation, which was established in 1994. In 2006, when Simpson announced plans to publish his tell-all memoir, If I Did It, Brown turned down the publisher’s bribe to not make a public stink about the book, and made the TV rounds instead, decrying the blatantly exploitative book deal. (If I Did It was subsequently shelved, though digital copies managed to make their way online.)
In late-2014, Brown got involved in making a documentary tribute to her sister, raising money for the project on Kickstarter. She had one stipulation: that Simpson’s name never be mentioned in the film or in any of the promotions.
“There is no verdict in our story,” she told HNGN in January 2015. “We are not talking about him or that. We are honoring Nicole…. I am so tired of seeing O.J. this, O.J. that. I want the focus to be on my sister – not him.”
Alas, the film’s marketers convinced Brown’s partner on the film that the only way to promote the film was by using O.J. Simpson’s name. Brown was not having it and, true to her word, pulled her support for the project.
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THEN: The Simpson trial turned Clark and the rest of the prosecution team into household names overnight, and Clark especially had to deal with the downsides of sudden fame. She and fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden did their damndest to prove Simpson’s guilt, but thanks in part to the mistakes made by the LAPD in their investigation, the duo’s efforts were trumped by those of Simpson’s ace defense attorneys. Clark was largely held responsible for the loss.
NOW: Clark took a leave of absence from her job following Simpson’s acquittal in order to focus on writing Without a Doubt, her book about the trial that allegedly garnered her $4.2 million. She resigned from her position with the D.A.’s office shortly before the book came out in 1997, and has not tried a single case since. Instead, she’s appeared as a legal expert on various TV news shows, and has used her experience in the courtroom to pen a regular column for The Daily Beast, as well as crime novels. She’s even done a little bit of acting, playing an attorney not too dissimilar from herself on an episode of Pretty Little Liars.
THEN: Clark’s partner-in-prosecution had a brief moment of glory when he introduced the bloody glove as evidence at trial, and then asked Simpson to try it on. This show-stopping tactic, of course, backfired — Simpson appeared to struggle as he put on the glove, prompting defense attorney Johnnie Cochran to utter that now infamous line: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
NOW: In 2012, Darden made headlines by alleging that he believed someone on Simpson’s defense team had tampered with the glove’s lining. “I think Johnnie tore the lining,” Darden said. “There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.’s fingers couldn’t go all the way up into the glove.” In a follow-up interview, Darden clarified, “A bailiff told me the defense had it during the lunch hour. It’s been my suspicion for a long time that the lining had been manipulated.”
In the years after the trial, Darden started teaching, taking positions at both California State University – Los Angeles, and Southwestern University School of Law. In 1999, he left academia in order to start own law firm, Darden & Associates, Inc., specializing in criminal defense and civil litigation. Like Clark, he is also a writer, and published several books.
Robert Shapiro and Kim Kardashian attend the Zeugari 2010 fashion show at Mi-6 Nightclub on October 14, 2009 in West Hollywood, California. [Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic]
THEN: Initially a key member of Simpson’s “Dream Team,” defense attorney Robert Shapiro ended up taking a backseat during trial after tensions flared between him and Johnnie Cochran.
NOW: Following the Simpson trial, Shapiro focused his legal practice mostly on civil litigation, though he continued to represent various celebrities caught up in minor legal trouble. Among his clients over the years? Rob Kardashian – the son of Shapiro’s fellow Dream Team member, Robert Kardashian – whom Shapiro defended against battery and petty-theft charges following an altercation with the paparazzi. Shapiro has also represented Lindsay Lohan, Eva Longoria, and Khloe Kardashian‘s estranged husband Lamar Odom. Oh, and he’s also the cofounder of both LegalZoom and Shoedazzle.com (with Kim Kardashian).
In 2005, his son Brent died of a drug overdose, prompting Shapiro to start the Brent Shapiro Foundation, a drug awareness non-profit.
THEN: The LAPD detective played a key role in the police investigation of the murders, having found a glove believed to belong to Simpson at the location of the murders. However, the defense portrayed Fuhrman as a lying racist who framed Simpson by planting the glove at Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo.
On the stand, Fuhrman testified that he was not racist and had not used the n-word in 10 years, only to have those statements contradicted by four defense witnesses who testified otherwise. (He was eventually charged with perjury and accepted a no-contest plea bargain.)
The defense also questioned Fuhrman about whether he had ever falsified police reports or planted evidence in the Simpson case, and he responded by evoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Needless to say, after the trial, Fuhrman found himself forced into early retirement.
NOW: Like just about everyone associated with this case, Fuhrman tried to make a buck off his role in the trial, publishing a book called Murder in Brentwood in 1997, which told“his side” of the story. He has since published numerous other true crime books, including Murder in Greenwich about the death of Martha Moxley, and Silent Witness: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo’s Death, in which he made the case that Schiavo – who was kept in an irreversible persistent vegetative state for seven years after suffering a serious heart attack — was murdered.
These days, Fuhrman is a frequent guest on Fox News, and is often seen defending the actions of police officers accused of police brutality.
THEN: A friend of hers since 1990, Faye Resnick was actually staying with Nicole Brown Simpson in the days leading up to the murder. Resnick had a longtime cocaine addiction, and just a few days before the murder, Nicole and a few other friends had an intervention, convincing Resnick to check into rehab. During the trial, the defense presented the theory that the murders were committed by drug dealers who had come to collect money that Resnick owed them.
NOW: After the trial, Resnick published not one, but two books about the case: 1994’s Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted and 1996’s Shattered: In the Eye of the Storm. In the first book, Resnick alleged that Nicole had cheated on Simpson with football player Marcus Allen; Simpson found out about the affair after he and Nicole had split, and, according to the book, this was what set him off and led him to commit the murders.
In 1997, Resnick posed on the cover of Playboy, and has become a somewhat regular fixture on reality TV shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, thanks to her friendships with Kris Jenner and Kyle Jenner.
THEN: The model and aspiring actress was Simpson’s girlfriend at the time of the murders, and testified that she was with him the night before. The morning of the murders, she left Simpson a 30-minute-long message on his answering machine, ending their relationship and saying she was flying to Las Vegas to be with Michael Bolton, of all people.
Simpson, meanwhile, claimed to have never received the message, and Barbieri stuck by Simpson throughout the trial, visiting him in jail quite frequently. The couple eventually broke up in 1995, after Simpson was acquitted and Barbieri allegedly caught him cheating.
NOW: After the trial, Barbieri became a born-again Christian and in 1997, she wrote a book about dating OJ, the trial, and her religious awakening called The Other Woman: My Years With O.J. Simpson. In it, she maintained that she believed Simpson was innocent. In 2000, Barbieri married Florida Circuit judge Michael Oversheet and the two live in Panama City, Florida, with their daughter.
As for the other people best known for their role in the OJ Simpson trial? Here’s what we know:
- Johnnie Cochran, Simpson’s lead defense attorney, died from a brain tumor in March 2005 at the age of 67
- Robert Kardashian, also on Simpson’s defense team, died from Esophageal cancer in September 2003 at the age of 59
- F. Lee Bailey, also a member of Simpson’s Dream Team, was disbarred in Florida and Massachusetts in 2001, and denied a law license in Maine in 2014
- Judge Lance Ito continued to work for the Los Angeles Criminal Court System until his retirement in 2015
- Sydney Simpson and Justin Simpson, O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson’s two children, have since grown up, gone to college and are reportedlyboth working in the restaurant industry.
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