Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Notable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to Present » O.J. Simpson Trials: 1995 1996-97 - Criminal Trial, Civil Trial, The Infamous Chase, The Trial Of The Century Begins, Kato Kaelin Testifies - The Verdict

O.J. Simpson Trials: 1995 & 1996-97 - Civil Trial

goldman vannatter nicole estate

Plaintiffs: Fred Goldman, the estate of Ronald Goldman, Sharon Rufo, and the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson
Defendant: Orenthal James Simpson
Plaintiff Claim: Liability for assault and battery and for wrongful deaths
Chief Defense Lawyers: Robert Baker, Phil Baker, Bob Blasier, Daniel Leonard
Chief Lawyers for the Plaintiffs: For Fred Goldman and the estate of Ronald Goldman: Daniel Petrocelli, Peter Gelblum, Tom Lambert, and Ed Medvene; for Sharon Rufo: Michael Brewer and Nick Hornberger; for the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson: John O. Kelly, Paul Callan, Ed Horowitz, and Natasha Roit
Judge: Hiroshi Fujisaki
Place: Santa Monica, California
Dates of Trial: October 17, 1996-February 4, 1997
Verdict: Simpson was found liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman; the Goldman family was awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages (the Simpson family had not sought compensatory damages); each family was awarded $12.5 million in punitive damages

SIGNIFICANCE: The two trials of O.J. Simpson revealed the challenging paradox that the American legal system does not work and then again does work. The criminal trial proved that a celebrity defendant who is served by determined lawyers can get away with murder. The civil trial proved that indisputable facts adding up to a preponderance of evidence can at least bring a modicum of solace to brokenhearted families.

Just before midnight on June 12, 1994, the brutally slashed bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman were found outside Nicole's condominium at 875 South Bundy Drive in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, California. Nicole was the ex-wife of football hero and TV spokesman Orenthal James Simpson, known as "O.J." Goldman was a friend of Nicole who worked as a waiter.

Before dawn, Detectives Philip Vannatter and Tom Lange of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Robbery-Homicide Division were named lead investigators. The detectives headed for Simpson's home to notify him of his ex-wife's death. They took along with them Detective Mark Fuhrman.

While waiting to get into Simpson's walled estate (the doorbell was not answered), Fuhrman called Vannatter's attention to bloodstains on a Ford Bronco parked outside the rear gate. Vannatter ordered Fuhrman to climb the wall and let the others in. At a guest house inside the grounds, Brian "Kato" Kaelin (a friend of O.J.'s) referred them to Arnelle Simpson, O.J.'s daughter by his first wife. She told them Simpson had taken a red-eye flight to Chicago at midnight. Detective Ronald Phillips phoned Simpson in Chicago to break the news.

Meanwhile, Kaelin told Fuhrman that at about 10:40 P.M. he had heard thumps on his wall. Checking a passageway behind the guesthouse, Fuhrman found a bloody black glove that looked like a match for one he and Vannatter had seen beside Goldman's body. They observed blood on the driveway, on the path to the front door, and on the house's entryway. The senior detective declared the property a crime scene, and obtained a search warrant. The Ford Bronco was impounded.

When Simpson returned to Los Angeles the next day, the LAPD interviewed him for three hours. Vannatter noticed that Simpson had a bandaged finger. The detective had the finger photographed without the bandage, which revealed two lacerations. Vannatter also had a nurse obtain a sample of Simpson's blood. The next morning, Vannatter told Los Angeles D.A. Gil Garcetti he considered Simpson the prime suspect. By then, the police could not locate Simpson.

O.J. Simpson Trials: 1995 1996-97 - The Infamous Chase [next] [back] O.J. Simpson Trials: 1995 1996-97 - Criminal Trial

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