Americans revisited one of the most sensational murder trials of modern times when a new twist appeared Friday in the O.J. Simpson case.
Los Angeles police announced that a knife was allegedly found on Simpson’s former estate in Brentwood, stirring memories of the savage stabbings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman outside her apartment in 1994.
The development conjured up a cast of characters from the trial that gripped the nation’s attention in the mid-1990s: Remember the televised slow-speed chase of O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco? His all-star legal team? The glove that did not fit? Judge Lance Ito?
And who can forget the ongoing crusade of Goldman’s outraged family against Simpson, who’s now imprisoned in Nevada for armed robbery and kidnapping in a separate case.
Emotions still burn fiercely about the case and its underlying issues that sound remarkably familiar today: race, justice, and policing in America.
A jury acquitted Simpson in the killings in 1995, but questions endure about his guilt in popular culture — fairly or not. He cannot be tried again.
The weapon used in the stabbing deaths was described as a long, serrated knife. It was never found.
Now-retired officer reportedly given knife in ’90s
Los Angeles police said Friday they are examining what’s been described as a knife reportedly found at the estate that once belonged to the former football great who became a movie star.
Police learned within the last month that an ex-Los Angeles traffic officer received the item from a construction worker who found it “back in the 90s,” possibly when the estate was being demolished, Los Angeles police Capt. Andy Neiman said.
It is being examined for forensics — including DNA and hairs — at a lab, he said.
The now-retired officer who had the knife “held onto it until just recently,” and authorities “discovered he had it” within the last month, Neiman said.
The construction worker told the officer he had found the knife on the former Simpson property, according to Neiman.
Neiman said he is not sure whether the officer had already left the force at the time.
He was then working off duty on a “movie” job, according to Neiman. The officer retired in the late 1990s, he said.
Whoever found the object should contact police, Neiman told reporters.
Neiman said he didn’t know why the ex-officer waited so long to turn it over to police.
“I don’t know what the circumstances are, why that didn’t happen or if that’s entirely accurate or if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go,” he said.
The officer possibly held onto it in the mistaken belief that the case was closed, Neiman said. The case remains open.
CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos said a knife could be tested for hair or blood but, with the passing of time, “it’s going to be a difficult test because this stuff is probably degraded significantly by being buried in the soil.”
FX series renews public interest in case
In the murder trial, Allen Wattenberg, owner of Ross Cutlery store, testified that his employee sold Simpson a 15-inch stiletto knife on May 3, 1994. He said Simpson asked that the knife be sharpened.
Prosecution witness Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran told the jury that he believed the killings were done with a single-edged knife.
During cross-examination, however, the doctor said he could not be positive.
Flanked by his all-star legal team, Simpson was found not guilty in the two killings on October 3, 1995.
Testimony in the trial took about nine months, encompassing about 120 witnesses, 45,000 pages of evidence and 1,100 exhibits.
In September 2007, Simpson was arrested in connection with a robbery at a Las Vegas hotel room. The ex-athlete said at the time he was retrieving personal items that had been stolen from him and were being sold as memorabilia.
He was booked on six counts of robbery, assault, burglary and conspiracy.
In October 2008, Simpson was found guilty on 12 counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery. He later was sentenced to at least 33 years in jail, with parole eligibility after nine years.
Interest in Simpson and the 1994 killings has spiked since the February debut of the FX series “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson.”
Google searches for Simpson and other key figures in the case have skyrocketed in recent weeks amid record-setting ratings for the cable series, which brought in the largest debut audience ever for FX, according to Variety.
The series is based on the book “The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson” by CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.