Table of contents
- The Case
- Forensics at the Trial Evidence Collection
- Securing the Evidence
- A Question of Planted Evidence
- A Question of Character
- The Forensic Science Involved
- The prosecution
- The Jury
- The Verdict
Orenthal James Simpson was a renowned American football player who became more famous after being accused of a double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The case became one of the most distinguished and interesting court cases in modern American history while the murder case of the two still remain unsolved. After prolonged court sessions, OJ was acquitted of the crimes and walked home as a free man. The jury cited the lack of consistency in the case as well as major misfits in the prosecution case. The case revealed serious issues in DNA collection with concerns raised over the poor conditions of DNA laborator ies as well as the collection and handling of biological samples and the chances of contamination through cross-examination of the sample (Williams, 2013). This paper attempts to describe in detail the post-murder events, the forensics and investigation details.
Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman were found murdered on June 12, 1994, at Brown’s residence. The police found critical evidence supporting the fact that OJ had committed the murders. A leather glove found outside Simpson’s residence matched the one that was found at the scene of the crime. In addition, OJ had a wound on his hand and his blood samples matched some drops found at the scene. Nicole’s blood samples matched those found on a pair of socks at Simpson’s residence and the fact that OJ had recently purchased a knife, which matched the type the killer used. The shoe prints found at the scene matched the size of Simpson’s shoe size, which led to the conclusion that he perpetrated the murders. Simpson was arrested later as he attempted to free and was placed under police custody (Williams, 2013).
The trial became one of the most publicized cases in the United States with Television, radio channels, newspapers, and periodicals covering every bit of the proceedings. It was the longest trial ever held in California with the state spending around 20 million dollars on the case alone making the case one of the most studied, observed and debated cases in American history. His team of expensive lawyers and attorneys cited that the client was being framed and was just another African American to become a victim of the white judicial system. The lawyers also accused the prosecution side for searching the house of OJ without a warrant in an attempt to plant evidence, therefore, violating the 4th Amendment. The officer in charge of the case Mark Fulham was accused of using racial remarks while referring to Simpson, therefore, raising the doubts for their evidence further (Williams, 2013).
Forensics at the Trial Evidence Collection
There were issues with evidence collection from the start when a bloody fingerprint was discovered at the entrance of Nicole’s residence. The head of the investigation Mark Fulham however, documented the fingerprint in his notes but the detectives who took over the shift after Fulham were not aware of the print, which ended up undocumented and destroyed. This, therefore, gave the impression of a sloppy investigation where the detectives were not keen to document pieces of evidence. Expert witnesses also testified on the mishandling of evidence by the prosecution who took photos without scales that would help in recording the measurements.
In addition, items were collected and photographed without being labeled therefore making it difficult to link the photos to the scene of the crime. The detectives also mixed separate pieces of evidence, which lead to cross-contamination of the specimen. The packaging of wet items from the crime scene caused critical changes in the evidence. The icing on the cake was when they took a blanket from the house and covered Nicole’s body, which not only destroyed the DNA samples on the body but also on anything else around the area (Pitts, Giacopassi & Turner, 2008).
Securing the Evidence
Securing the evidence raised issues in the investigation, for example, around 1.5 ml of blood taken from OJ Simpson as evidence was missing. The individual who drew the blood samples had also not recorded the exact amount he took as a reference on the missing blood. The blood was carried around before being entered into the chain of custody raising more questions on how the blood was lost. Evidence storage laboratories were also under scrutiny after unauthorized persons tampered with evidence. For example, OJ’S car was accessed at least twice while at the impound yard while Nicole’s mother’s glasses and lens were missing while at the facility. The detectives later revealed that they had picked up Nicole’s phone without gloves and did not dust it for fingerprints (Linder, 2008).
A Question of Planted Evidence
Failure to have proper collection methods by the police only meant that police had planted Simpsons missing blood on the crime scene. The defense team argued of traces of Ethylenediamine Tetraacetic Acid (EDTA), which is an anticoagulant, mixed collected blood sample to prevent clotting. If this was the case, then it only means that OJ’s blood samples collected at the scene had been planted. The chemical can also be found in human blood and in paints but at the time of the trial, the tests were not available to determine whether the presence of EDTA occurred naturally or as a result to contamination. The presence of EDTA could also have been because of contaminated equipment used to run the tests (Linder, 2008).
A Question of Character
The head of investigations, detective Mark Fuhrman was accused of being using racial remarks when referring to OJ Simpson, which came at a time individual of African American descent, were at the mercy of the overly white judicial systems questioning the remarks of the detective. The detective also searched OJ’s house without a warrant of arrest, therefore, violating the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment grants individuals the right to be secure in their houses and with their personal effects and protects the individual against unreasonable searches and seizure of property by the authorities. The warrants are only issued upon probable cause supported by oath from the necessary authorities clearly describing the place to be searched and the things to look for. The fact that the glove did not fit OJ’s hand glove questioned Fuhrman’s credibility and the whole Los Angeles Police Department. The office was accused of discriminating OJ on basis of race, searching his house without a warrant and planting evidence at the scene of the crime all of which he invoked the Fifth Amendment rights against self-inculpation by refusing to respond to the allegations against him. The Fifth Amendment protects defendants from having to testify if they feel they will incriminate themselves through their testimony (Linder, 2008).
The Forensic Science Involved
The prosecution failed to overcome the lack of knowledge in the forensics by failing to put the evidence in terms that the jury could understand and appreciate. With this, the forensic evidence was deemed useless. The blood found near the bodies was also inconclusive since DNA samples showed the chances of the blood being Simpsons as 1 in 170 million. Chances that blood on the sock belonged to someone rather than Nicole were 1 to 21 billion (Pitts, Giacopassi & Turner, 2008).
The prosecution portrayed the image of an angry abusive man with all the evidence pointed towards confirming him guilty. They believed OJ had killed his ex-wife and her friend in a jealous rage due to the rich incriminating evidence against him and his lack of an alibi for the night. The prosecution pulled a series of 911 calls by Nicole Brown some months before she was killed. In the calls, Nicole is afraid of OJ and what he would do to her and the kids owing to the fact that he had abused her before. The witnesses who included Nicole’s sister, Denise Brown confirmed the fact that her sister was abused at time even in her presence and at other times in public (Blohm, 2008). Kato Kaelin testimonies contradicted OJ Simpson’s recorded statements OJ Simpson. Kaelin was a family friend to the Simpson’s and was staying at a guest house within the residence. He witnessed OJ’s movements for the night but could not account for his whereabouts between 9.36 pm and 11.00pm with the prosecution alleging that the crimes were committed between 10.00pm and 10.30pm. However, Marcia Clark the lead prosecutor in the case wanted the judge to declare Kaelin as a hostile witness, therefore, abandoning his statement. The witness kept on changing his statement on the appearance of the accused on the day Nicole and Ron were killed. On an eventful day, Simpson was to catch a flight to Chicago. According to the limo driver Allan Park, arrived at around 10.25pm in the Simpson’s residence, rang the doorbell but no one opened. Some few minutes to 11.00pm, a tall dark shadowy figure dressed in dark clothes entered the house only for Simpson to appear a few minutes later saying he overslept (White, 1996).
One of the biggest mistakes the prosecution made was firing the downtown district rather than where it happened. The reasons the prosecution had given was reducing the commuting time for the prosecutors but the reason was more political than social. By doing OJ Simpson Investigation this, the prosecution violated the Sixth amendment that the accused shall enjoy the right to aspeedy trial by an impartial jury of the State in the district the crime was committed. The prosecution thought that convicting OJ Simpson in an all -white jury, could spark protests from the public owing to the nature in which the case was publicized. A more racially diverse jury like one in downtown Los Angeles would be able to convict the case with fewer tensions. The jury comprised of nine individuals of African American descent, two Caucasians and one Hispanic. The highest number of individuals in the jury was women accounting for around three-quarters of the entire jury. It was a high-profile case at a time when individuals of African America descent were trying to redeem themselves from racial discrimination that inhibited them from accessing certain services and taking part in certain services. Majority of the African Americans believed that Simpson was innocent while their white counterparts believed he was guilty (Blohm,2008).
With the contradicting leads and witnesses, the jury had to give their verdict on the case. The case was difficult to determine owing to the fact that OJ had a likable image in the public eye, had been a footballer and therefore changing people’s initial perception of OJ would be difficult. The evidence was sufficient that it would lead the jury to convict Simpson, although the doubts cast during evidence collection and investigation procedures by the sloppy detectives was enough window to convict otherwise. The jury took three hours to sum up one of the most publicized cases in the judicial history of the United States that produced over 150 witnesses at the c ost of 20 million dollars. They acquitted Simpson of two accounts of murder a decision most people believed was retribution for the Rodney King’s case in 1992 and the acquittal of two white police officers accuse d with police brutality on King (Pitts,Giacopassi & Turner, 2008).