O.J. Simpson Prosecutor Recalls Verdict 20 Years Later: 'It Shook My Belief in the System'

by Raphael Chestang 8:02 PM PDT, October 02, 2015
Playing O.J. Simpson Prosecutor Recalls Verdict 20 Years Later: 'It Shook My Belief in the System'

Twenty years later, the O.J. Simpson trial is still a point of fascination -- even with those who were involved.

"I knew if there was a verdict, it was going to be a not guilty," Simpson's trial prosecutor Marcia Clark told ET. "And still there was that little part of me that said, 'But they can't! They can't do it.'"

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As Simpson rose to hear the verdict on Oct. 3, 1995, the entire nation leaned forward to hear the decision, which came down as not guilty. Clark called the verdict "outrageous."

"The evidence was overwhelming," she told ET. "It pretty much shook my belief in the system."

The drama of the trial of the century started before anyone even set foot inside the courtroom. On June 17, 1994 Simpson was scheduled to surrender to police in connection with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ronald Goldman. When he didn't make the 11 a.m. deadline, he was declared a fugitive and was later spotted in a white Bronco being driven by Al Cowlings, a former college and pro football teammate of Simpson.

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"It was unbelievable," NCIS: Los Angeles star Chris O'Donnell told ET, remembering the infamous Bronco chase down several Southern California freeways. "I just remember hearing the first reports and going, 'O.J. Simpson's what?'"

Prior to the trial, Simpson was a Hollywood superstar. The Heisman trophy winner was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Following his athletic career he made a name for himself as a broadcaster and movie star, having appeared in the Naked Gun franchise.

ET interviewed Simpson when he was still in the honeymoon phase of his marriage.

"I think my wife Nicole has brought some stability into my life," Simpson told ET in 1985. "I never thought I'd remarry."

Simpson and his first wife Marguerite L. Whitley split in 1979. Simpson wed Brown six years later.

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"It was such a tragic story," Kris Jenner told ET. "Nicole was so dear to my heart, and when these things come back up it's like it was a minute ago."

Kris was often present in the courtroom with Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, as Kris' ex-husband Robert Kardashian was a part of Simpson's legal "Dream Team." Also on the team were Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz.

Attorney Shawn Chapman Holley was a rookie lawyer for the defense team.

"We had death threats in the office," Holley recalled. "There were many occasions where we had to have security follow us home, and stay outside of our homes all night."

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The trial will be dissected from the lawyers' point of view in Ryan Murphy's upcoming FX miniseries, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. The 10-episode series is based on Jeffrey Toobin's book, The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, and stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark.