Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s chief legal analyst, is the author of The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson. The views expressed here are solely those of the author.
Did O.J. have help? That question has lingered over the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman for more than two decades. The evidence that Simpson himself committed the killing has looked ever more persuasive over the years, but Internet experts and others have long raised the question of possible accomplices, usually pointing to Simpson’s son from his first marriage, Jason.
Now Simpson himself has raised the issue, in an interview from 2006 that was broadcast over the weekend on Fox.
To call the interview peculiar is an understatement. Simpson does not exactly confess to the crime, but he describes how, hypothetically, he might have killed Brown Simpson and Goldman. In the course of the interview, Simpson himself raises the possibility that he had help, mentioning a spectral figure he calls “Charlie.”
So did O.J. have help? Were there any accomplices to the murders on the night of June 12, 1994?
The answer is absolutely – positively – not. O.J. killed his ex-wife and her friend by himself.
How do we know this? Though the criminal case against Simpson raised broad questions about race, class and celebrity and ended in acquittal, the murders were rather straightforward in terms of evidence. The two victims were knifed to death in a small space in front of Nicole’s townhouse, on Bundy Drive, in Brentwood.
All of the evidence pointed to O.J. Simpson – alone – as the killer. A single set of bloody footprints were left at the scene. Simpson was photographed wearing a pair of the same kind of Bruno Magli shoes that left the prints. Drops of blood were found to the left of the footprints. DNA tests revealed that was Simpson’s blood. And the following day, Simpson appeared with a bandage on his left hand. The trail of Simpson’s blood continued to the rear gate of Nicole’s home, into Simpson’s white Ford Bronco, to the steps in front of Simpson’s home on Rockingham and into Simpson’s bedroom, on his socks.
What was more, one bloody glove was left at the crime scene, and a matching glove was found in a narrow passageway behind the guest homes on Simpson’s property, where Kato Kaelin lived. On the night of the murders, Kaelin told police that he heard three loud thumps right where the glove was found, suggesting that someone (Simpson, of course) had hidden it there.
Of course, during the criminal trial, Simpson’s lawyer claimed that that evidence, including blood, was planted at the crime scenes by racist police officers to frame Simpson. To me, at least, this theory was never believable, but the accomplice suggestion throws it out the window.
If Simpson is acknowledging (as he appears to be) that he was involved in the murder, his blood would be at the scene, too. But what of this supposed accomplice? How could “Charlie” – or Jason, or anyone else – have participated in the murder and left no evidence of his presence? There are no footprints, no hair and fiber, no fingerprints of anyone else at the crime scene. That’s because there was no accomplice.
The accomplice theory also leaves out the crucial question of motive. For all the drama and notoriety of the Simpson case, it was a depressingly familiar story – a domestic violence homicide.
Simpson was the rare domestic abuser who was actually caught and prosecuted during his marriage to Nicole. (He pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 1989.) Nicole’s chilling 911 call serves as a reminder that his abuse of her was a long-term matter. (“He’s O.J. Simpson,” Nicole Brown Simpson says on the recording. “I think you know his record.”)
Simpson was a wife-beater who escalated – a pattern which recurs every day in this country. Only Simpson – not “Charlie,” not the blameless Jason, not anyone else – had the motive to kill Nicole. Only O.J. had the motive, and only O.J. committed the crime.