OJ Simpson, ex-NFL star acquitted of his wife's murder, dies aged 76

Oj Simpson, Ex-Nfl Star Acquitted Of His Wife's Murder, Dies Aged 76
OJ Simpson has died aged 76 after battling cancer. Photo: Getty Images
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OJ Simpson, the former American football star who was acquitted of the murder of his wife and her friend in a case that captivated the US, has died after battling cancer, according to a statement by his family.

A post shared on Simpson's social media accounts said that he died on Wednesday, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.


“On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer,” read the statement.


“He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace.”

Simpson was cleared by a Los Angeles jury in what the US media called "the trial of the century" over the 1994 stabbing deaths of former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles.

He later served nine years in a Nevada prison after being convicted in 2008 on 12 counts of armed robbery and kidnapping two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel.

Nicknamed "The Juice," Simpson was one of the best and most popular athletes in the US during the late 1960s and 1970s. He overcame childhood infirmity to become an electrifying running back at the University of Southern California and won the Heisman Trophy as college football's top player.


After a record-setting career in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Simpson parlayed his football stardom into a career as a sportscaster, advertising pitchman and Hollywood actor in films including the Naked Gun series.

All that changed after his former wife and her friend were found fatally slashed in a bloody scene outside her Los Angeles home on June 12th, 1994.

Simpson quickly emerged as a suspect. He was ordered to surrender to police but five days after the killings, he fled in his white Ford Bronco with a former teammate – carrying his passport and a disguise. A slow-speed chase through the Los Angeles area ended at Simpson's mansion and he was later charged in the murders.


Murder defendant O.J. Simpson (R) consults with frie
OJ Simpson consults with Robert Kardashian (centre) and Alvin Michelson (left) during his murder trial. Photo: AFP via Getty

What ensued was one of the most notorious trials in 20th century America and a media circus. It had everything: a rich celebrity defendant; a Black man accused of killing his white former wife out of jealousy; a woman slain after divorcing a man who had beaten her; a "dream team" of pricy and charismatic defence lawyers; and a huge gaffe by prosecutors.

Simpson, who at the outset of the case declared himself "absolutely 100 percent not guilty," waved at the jurors and mouthed the words "thank you" after the predominately Black panel of 10 women and two men acquitted him on October 3rd, 1995.

Prosecutors argued that Simpson killed Nicole in a jealous fury, and they presented extensive blood, hair and fibre tests linking Simpson to the murders. The defence countered that the celebrity defendant was framed by racist white police.


The trial transfixed America. In the White House, president Bill Clinton left the Oval Office and watched the verdict on his secretary's TV. Many Black Americans celebrated his acquittal, seeing Simpson as the victim of bigoted police. Many white Americans were appalled by his exoneration.

Simpson's legal team included prominent criminal defence lawyers Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz and F Lee Bailey, who often out-maneuvered the prosecution. Prosecutors committed a memorable blunder when they directed Simpson to try on a pair of blood-stained gloves found at the murder scene, confident they would fit perfectly and show he was the killer.

In a highly theatrical demonstration, Simpson struggled to put on the gloves and indicated to the jury they did not fit.

O.J. Simpson shows the jury a new pair of Aris ext
OJ Simpson shows the jury a new pair of Aris extra-large gloves, similar to the gloves found at the crime scene, during his double murder trial. Photo: AFP via Getty

Delivering the trial's most famous words, Cochran referred to the gloves in closing arguments to jurors with a rhyme: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Dershowitz later called the prosecution decision to ask Simpson to try on the gloves "the greatest legal blunder of the 20th century."

"What this verdict tells you is how fame and money can buy the best defence, can take a case of overwhelming incriminating physical evidence and transform it into a case riddled with reasonable doubt," Peter Arenella, a UCLA law professor, told the New York Times after the verdict.

"A predominantly African-American jury was more susceptible to claims of police incompetence and corruption and more willing to impose a higher burden of proof than normally required for proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Arenella said.

After his acquittal, Simpson said that "I will pursue as my primary goal in life the killer or killers who slayed Nicole and Mr Goldman... They are out there somewhere... I would not, could not and did not kill anyone."

The Goldman and Brown families subsequently pursued a wrongful death lawsuit against Simpson in civil court. In 1997, a predominately white jury in Santa Monica, California, found Simpson liable for the two deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.

"We finally have justice for Ron and Nicole," Fred Goldman, Ron Goldman's father, said after the verdict.

O.J. Simpson Granted Parole At Hearing
OJ Simpson after learning he was granted parole after serving a prison term for a 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping conviction. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Simpson's "dream team" did not represent him in the civil trial in which the burden of proof was lower than in a criminal trial – a "preponderance of the evidence" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt." New evidence also hurt Simpson, including photographs of him wearing the type of shoes that had left bloody footprints at the murder scene.

After the civil case, some of Simpson's belongings, including memorabilia from his football days, were taken and auctioned off to help pay the damages he owed.

On October 3rd, 2008, exactly 13 years after his acquittal in the murder trial, he was convicted by a Las Vegas jury on charges including kidnapping and armed robbery. These stemmed from a 2007 incident at a casino hotel in which Simpson and five men, at least two carrying guns, stole sports memorabilia worth thousands of dollars from two dealers.

Simpson said he was just trying to recover his own property but was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.

"I didn't want to hurt anybody," Simpson, donning a blue prison jumpsuit with shackles on his legs and wrists, said at his sentencing. "I didn't know I was doing anything wrong."

Simpson was released on parole in 2017 and moved into a gated community in Las Vegas. He was granted early release from parole in 2021 due to good behaviour at age 74.

His life saga was recounted in the Oscar-winning 2016 documentary "O.J.: Made in America" as well as various TV dramatisations.

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