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Simpson wins custody of two younger children

Sidney and Justin Simpson
A L S O :
O.J. Simpson's statement following the ruling
Brown family's statement

December 20, 1996
Web posted at: 7:30 p.m. EST

FULLTERTON, California (CNN) -- O.J. Simpson won custody Friday of his two youngest children, Sydney and Justin, who had been living with their grandparents since shortly after their mother's murder.

Superior Court Judge Nancy Wieben-Stock awarded permanent custody of Sydney, now 11, and Justin, 8, to their father. A visitation schedule with their maternal grandparents, Lou and Juditha Brown, was to be worked out later.

O.J. Simpson

The trial, which began November 12, was closed to the public and a gag order was imposed on all parties.

It all began the night the children's mother, Nicole Brown Simpson, was killed on June 12, 1994. The youngsters were in bed in her condo as she and her friend Ron Goldman were slashed to death outside.

Simpson was acquitted of criminal charges in the slayings. He is now on trial in civil court on a wrongful-death suit filed by his former in-laws and Goldman's family.

At Nicole's funeral, Sydney seemed somewhat dazed. She and her younger brother appeared at their father's side.

Later that week would come the famous low-speed Bronco chase and O.J. Simpson's arrest. But not before his friend Al Cowlings read a letter from Simpson in which he spoke of his children.

"As a last wish, please, please, please leave my children in peace," Simpson said in the note.

It didn't quite work out that way. The children were soon engulfed by the media hurricane swirling around the case.

By some accounts, Sydney and Justin began to resume a near-normal lifestyle when the proceedings against their father began. By that point, the two children were living with their grandparents.

Brown family

Then came the acquittal that put Simpson back into their lives with weekend visits, and a custody battle with Nicole's parents.

The Browns reportedly centered their case around allegations that Simpson abused Nicole. They also argued their family values were more consistent with the way their daughter raised Sydney and Justin.

Simpson's attorneys argued that he, as the biological parent, should be allowed to care for his own children. They also took the tack that their client wanted to raise his children, in part, to better acquaint them with their African-American heritage.


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