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The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson: 30 years on

Nicole Brown Simpson and O.J. Simpson
Image: Nicole Brown Simpson and O.J. Simpson | ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Nicole Brown Simpson’s story will be told in a brand new docuseries as her sisters and closest friends come forward to tell her truth, 30 years after her death. The Life and Death of Nicole Brown Simpson starts Sunday, 16th June on Crime + Investigation.

12th June 2024 marks exactly 30 years since the high-profile death of Nicole Brown Simpson. The circumstances of her death and the controversial murder trial that followed, continue to captivate countless people in America and around the world to this day.

Ahead of a new documentary about Nicole Brown Simpson’s life and murder, this article looks back at the key events of a criminal case that shocked a nation to its core.

A glamorous yet toxic relationship

Nicole Brown Simpson, a glamorous and popular woman, first met O.J. Simpson in 1977. At that time, O.J. was a married former NFL star and actor. The two quickly fell in love and began an affair, resulting in O.J.’s divorce from his first wife. Nicole and O.J. later married in 1985 in a lavish ceremony that generated a huge amount of media coverage.

Despite their relationship appearing perfect on the surface, it was a different story away from the limelight. The relationship was highly turbulent, as well as being physically and mentally abusive. Nicole would call the police multiple times throughout the marriage, reporting incidents of domestic violence.

In 1992, after seven years of marriage and two children, Nicole filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. However, even post-divorce, her relationship with O.J. remained fraught with tension and conflict, caused by his possessiveness and jealousy.

12th June 1994: A shocking murder

On the night of 12th June 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were brutally murdered outside Nicole’s condominium in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Nicole was aged just 35 at the time of her death.

The gruesome nature of the crime appalled the nation. Nicole had been stabbed repeatedly, and her throat slashed so severely that her vertebrae were nearly severed.

The discovery of the bodies led to the involvement of the police, with suspicion quickly falling on O.J. as the most likely culprit. The high-profile nature of the couple’s relationship and tumultuous history started a media frenzy that dominated news stations for weeks throughout the summer.

‘The trial of the century’

O.J. Simpson was charged with the murders of Nicole and Ronald. His ensuing trial, often called ‘The trial of the century’, has become part of American folklore. The trial began on 24th January 1995 and was a spectacle that became essential viewing for Americans of all ages.

O.J. assembled a ‘dream team’ of defence attorneys to work on the case, including Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian. His team focused on discrediting the evidence by highlighting alleged racial biases within the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as the behaviour of Detective Mark Fuhrman.

Key pieces of evidence, such as the infamous bloody glove found at Simpson’s estate, are remembered today as being compelling parts of the trial.

The verdict was delivered at 10am on Tuesday, 3rd October. Across the country, record numbers of people tuned in to hear the jury’s decision. Adults abandoned work and students left classrooms as 150 million viewers – 57% of the population – gathered around TV screens.

But, despite what many considered overwhelming evidence of O.J.’s guilt, the jury delivered a not-guilty verdict. The acquittal was met with shock and disbelief by many, whilst others saw it as a victory against a racially biased legal system.

The aftermath and legacy

Nicole’s death and subsequent trial had far-reaching implications beyond the courtroom. It led to national debates about domestic violence, race relations and the power and influence of celebrities on trial. It also left a lasting impact on the media landscape, with 24-hour news coverage becoming the norm for dramatic events.

But the story wasn’t over. Three years later, in a civil trial held in 1997, O.J. Simpson was found liable for the wrongful deaths of Nicole and Ronald. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the families but ultimately paid little of the judgment.

O.J. Simpson died in 2024, aged 76, from cancer. But his criminal acquittal will likely remain highly controversial and contentious for decades after his death.

Reflecting on the events of 30 years ago

Three decades after the death of Nicole Brown Simpson and Roland Goldman, the case remains just as well-known and controversial as ever. The continued fascination with O.J. Simpson’s trial and its sensational details clearly demonstrates the profound impact the trial made on American society.

The case not only captivated the public but it also led to important conversations about issues such as domestic violence, racial tensions and the influence of media on the justice system.

Hear more about Nicole’s story from her three sisters, Denise, Dominique and Tanya by watching The Life and Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson on Crime + Investigation and Crime + Investigation Play from Sunday, 16th June.