CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Motive and opportunity

September 25, 1995

From 'CNN Presents' and Correspondent Art Harris

Family man

Before the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, O. J. Simpson was a superstar celebrity who seemed to have it all -- a beautiful family and home, football fame, commercial endorsements, movie roles. To convince jurors that O. J. Simpson is a killer, prosecutors began by breaking the spell of celebrity.

They played 911 tapes that revealed Simpson's dirty little secret. Jurors saw an ugly side of a superstar out of control -- a sometimes violent marriage that prosecutors said became a Hollywood saga of rage and obsession. (60K AIFF sound or 60K WAV sound)


"He (O.J. Simpson) grabbed Nicole, picked her up, threw her against a wall. Picked her up and threw her out of the house."

-- Denise Brown


Nicole & OJ

After portraying Simpson's rages, prosecutors laid out a motive for murder. They said that after the divorce he stalked Nicole out of jealousy. And in the end, Simpson was angry because his ex-wife had decided against ever getting back together.

Prosecutors said O. J. Simpson was pushed over the edge when his daughter danced at a recital June 12, 1994. Nicole hadn't saved him a seat. And afterwards, he wasn't included in a family celebration.

In selling motive to the jury, prosecutors were careful not to overplay Simpson's violent side. "It's always a fine line, I think, with the jury when you deal with a celebrity defendant. You don't want the jury to think that you're going overboard just to diminish this individual unnecessarily," said Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti. (153K AIFF sound or 153K WAV sound)

Whether prosecutors went far enough in showing Simpson's dark side won't be known until the verdict comes in. Jurors will have to weigh the portrait of a violent ex-husband consumed by jealousy and rejection against the very different picture painted by Simpson's attorneys.

The defense portrayed O. J. Simpson as a nice guy -- a loving father who still cared about Nicole's welfare. The defense played a home video showing Simpson smiling after his daughter's dance recital on the day of the murders. They wanted the jury to wonder why Nicole's mother was kissing Simpson if the family thought him so brutal?

The defense also tried to show Simpson was busy and was happy in a new romance. "Stalkers don't go all across the United States working, doing commercials, shooting movies, having a new girlfriend," argued Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran. (162K AIFF sound or 162K WAV sound)

The defense wanted the jury to see the face of a father grieving for the mother of his two youngest children -- a man incapable of taking their mother away.

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