It’s been two decades since the white Bronco carrying O.J. Simpson in a
strangely serene, low-speed police chase burned itself into our collective
The NFL Hall of Famer — armed with a gun, his passport and a fake beard — was
threatening suicide after authorities decided to arrest him on suspicion of
murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her waiter friend Ronald
Simpson’s friend Al Cowlings piloted the ghostly SUV from one freeway to
another as an estimated 95 million television viewers looked on.
The shocking slayings took place June 12, 1994, just steps from the Brentwood,
Calif., condo where the young Simpson children, Sydney and Justin, slept
Cops eventually found two blood-soaked leather gloves and a trail of bloody
Bruno Magli shoeprints — evidence that would factor prominently in the
televised soap opera that was the People vs. Orenthal James Simpson.
The voyeuristic circus dubbed the “Trial of the Century” ended Oct. 3, 1995,
when a jury of nine blacks, two whites and one Latino found the Heisman Trophy
winner not guilty.
The racially charged courtroom drama introduced a memorable cast of characters
including Simpson’s legal Dream Team, his house guest Kato Kaelin and
embattled Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman.
Two decades later, the Daily News checks in on the key players who captivated
O.J. Simpson, 66, has spent the last five years at Lovelock prison in Nevada
on an armed robbery and kidnapping conviction. He’s serving up to 33 years for
leading a group of men in a Las Vegas casino confrontation with two
memorabilia dealers. He won’t be eligible for parole until 2017, but he filed
a new appeal Wednesday.
“He’s depressed,” his manager Norman Prado recently told The News. Prado said
he regularly corresponds with the former Buffalo Bills star and last spoke to
him a couple of months ago. He said one popular topic is Glen Rogers, a serial
killer on Death Row who claims he carried out the murders.
“(Simpson) wants to know more (about Rogers), but he told me, ‘Norman, a guy
could run up with a knife dripping with Nicole’s blood, and they’ll tell him
to stop covering for O.J.,’” Prado said.
Simpson lost his Florida house to foreclosure last year and still owes a $33.5
million civil judgment to the estates of his ex-wife and Goldman.
Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were savagely knifed to death June 12,
Fred Goldman, 73, is the grieving father and Simpson nemesis whose relentless
pursuit of the athlete-turned-actor led to the megabucks civil judgment.
“We went after him whenever we saw an opportunity to take something away, so
there’s a level of satisfaction knowing our efforts all those previous years
might have been part of the reason he ended up committing armed robbery. We
made him constantly worry about keeping his memorabilia away from us,” said
the dad who moved to Arizona with his wife, Patti, after the civil trial.
“Hopefully he’ll die in jail. It’s the next best thing to seeing him found
guilty of double murder and being put to death,” Goldman said.
Marcia Clark, 60, was the co-lead prosecutor in the criminal trial and quit
the L.A. County District Attorney’s office after the acquittal. She earned a
reported $4.2 million for her Simpson book “Without a Doubt” and has worked as
a legal commentator for “Entertainment Tonight,” CNN, ABC and NBC covering
high-profile cases including the George Zimmerman murder trial in Florida.
Robert Kardashian was a longtime Simpson friend who read The Juice’s apparent
suicide letter on live TV the day of the Bronco chase. He sat beside Simpson
throughout the trial but expressed doubts about the “Naked Gun” star’s
innocence before dying in 2003 from esophageal cancer at age 59. His daughter
Kim Kardashian later catapulted to superstardom with a sex tape that helped
the family snag its famous E! reality show, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”
THE GETAWAY VEHICLE
The white Bronco is privately owned by a collector who snapped it up for a
reported $75,000 after the civil trial.
“It’s well taken care of. It’s not on the street,” owner Michael Pulwer told
The News, declining to name the SUV’s exact storage location.
He said he gets about five to 10 requests a year from people or organizations
wanting to rent the world-famous wheels for exhibition.
It was transported to Connecticut two years ago to serve as a prop for a party
hosted by The Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich. That same year
it was on display at the Luxor hotel in Vegas.
“I think someday, somebody will want to have it in a museum of famous or
infamous cars,” Pulwer said. “But on this anniversary, I think we should care
more about the people who were killed than the white Bronco.”
THE COP AS ‘VILLAIN’
Mark Fuhrman, 62, found the bloody glove at Simpson’s house but later became
the trial’s unexpected villain when recordings revealed he repeatedly used the
N-word while consulting on dialogue for a screenplay. The recordings
contradicted the LAPD detective’s claim he hadn’t used the hateful slur in a
decade and led to a felony perjury conviction that ended his police career.
Simpson’s team accused Fuhrman of planting the glove in a racially motivated
plot to frame the former gridiron great.
“This was the simplest case in the history of murder in Los Angeles, but it
turned into a giant car wreck,” Fuhrman told The News. “The truth wasn’t
important. All they cared about was the sensationalism of a guy who could play
a child’s game and become a celebrity.”
Fuhrman, who lives in Idaho and has written several books, works as a pundit
for Fox News. He said Simpson is “getting what he deserved” as a Nevada
“I know I sound bitter and angry, but I’ve wasted 20 years of my life on
something that took 20 minutes (of detective work),” said the retired cop who
many blame for turning the tide of the criminal trial.
“I wasn’t even on call that night, but my boss wanted me to handle it.
Everything was fine until 1:05 a.m. on June 13, 1994. If I could go back, I
wouldn’t answer that call. It wasn’t worth it.”
Asked if he had any regrets, Fuhrman said, “You can’t go back.”
“You don’t get a do-over when you screw up like that. I wasn’t privileged. I
didn’t have a father growing up. If I could change all that, maybe I wouldn’t
have been a policeman,” he said.
He said his recorded racist statements were taken out of context.
“We were writing a screenplay,” he tried to explain. “Some people say, ‘Well,
you had to think those things to say them.’ Okay, I did. But I could absorb a
lot of personalities and regurgitate them.”
He called the case “the Great Wall of China speed bump” of his life.
“You watch people in the news talk about drug addicts and abusers who get
convicted and do their time. They say, ‘He paid his price, time to move on.’
Well, I would like that same consideration.”
FAMOUS HOUSE GUEST
Kato Kaelin, 55, was the breakout star of the criminal trial with his long,
surfer-style blond locks and colorful, often conflicting, testimony. He was
Simpson’s houseguest in 1994 and told jurors the football star had no obvious
cuts or injuries shortly after the murders.
The would-be actor parlayed his trial fame into spots on “The Weakest Link”
and the reality shows “Celebrity Boot Camp,” and “Gimme My Reality Show!” His
newest endeavor is a loungewear line for couch potatoes, aptly called Kato
“By no doing of my own, I was thrust into an intense spotlight. Never had a
man done so little to be recognized by so many,” Kaelin, who still lives in
Los Angeles, told The News. “I didn’t ask for any of it.”
He said his Kato Potato line has been in the works for years and will launch
this summer with a followup kids’ line called Kater Tots. It features special
pockets for TV remote controls and bags of potato chips.
The self-professed “slacker” — who has long maintained Simpson was probably
guilty of the double murder — said his sister lost a son to an IED explosion
in Afghanistan in 2004. He said the family tragedy gave him a deeper
understanding of the complexities of life and loss.
“I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. I can only see it through my
sister’s eyes,” he said, adding that he’s not hawking a clothing line to cash
in on anyone’s grief.
JUDGE & RINGMASTER
Lance Ito, 63, is the Los Angeles Superior Court judge who allowed cameras in
the courtroom for Simpson’s trial and thereby sealed his fate as the
unofficial godfather of reality TV.
The bearded and bespectacled jurist caused a stir last year when he walked two
blocks to the civil court building to watch part of Katherine Jackson’s trial
against Michael Jackson’s concert promoter AEG Live. His term is up next
January, and he didn’t run for reelection, setting the stage for his
Faye Resnick, 56, was a friend who spent considerable time at Nicole Brown
Simpson’s condo until leaving for rehab just days before the double murder.
The Dream Team floated the theory that Nicole’s true killer was a cocaine
dealer targeting Resnick. Her steamy tell-all memoir “Nicole Brown Simpson:
the Private Diary of a Life Interrupted” hit bookstores during jury selection
in the criminal trial. She posed nude for Playboy in 1997 and later appeared
in multiple episodes of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
HIS GAL PAL
Paula Barbieri, 47, was the beautiful and dutiful girlfriend who was with O.J.
Simpson just hours before the double murder. She visited Simpson in jail but
dumped him soon after his acquittal. She posed for Playboy in late 1994 but
later sought salvation as a born-again Christian. She’s now married to a
Florida judge and has a daughter.
IF IT DOESN’T FIT, YOU MUST ACQUIT
Johnnie Cochran Jr. was the Dream Team’s master showman. He delivered the
crowning blow, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” He reportedly got $2.5
million for his book “Journey for Justice” about the case. He did a brief
stint as co-anchor on Court TV’s short-lived “Cochran & Grace” with Nancy
Grace and represented the families of NYPD misconduct victims Abner Louima and
Cochran scored a 2001 acquittal for Sean (Diddy) Combs in the Manhattan
weapons case stemming from a December 1999 nightclub shooting that nearly
landed his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez on the witness stand.
Cochran died in 2005 from an inoperable brain tumor at 67. Simpson attended