Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher Darden delivered the first part of the opening statement made by the prosecution Tuesday in the O.J. Simpson double murder trial. Here are excerpts of his statement:
Your Honor Judge Ito, Mr. Cochran and Mr. Shapiro and Dean Uelmen, and to my colleagues seated here today in front of you, and to the real parties in interest in this case, the Brown family, the Goldman family and the Simpson family, and to you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, good morning.
I think it’s fair to say that I have the toughest job in town today. Except for the job that you have. Your job may just be a little bit tougher. But your job, and like my job, both have a central focus, a single objective, and that objective is justice, obviously. . . .
We’re here today, obviously, to resolve an issue, to settle a question, a question that has been on the minds of people throughout the country these last seven months. . . . Did O.J. Simpson really kill Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman?
Well, finally, ladies and gentlemen, I am here in front of you this morning to answer that question. And we will answer that question from the witness stand, and from the exhibits you’ll see in this case, and from the evidence. And when you see the evidence, and when you hear the witnesses, and when you put it all together and consider the totality of circumstances in this case, the answer will be clear to you as well.
The answer to the question is yes. The evidence will show that the answer to the question is yes. O.J. Simpson murdered Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. . . .
Why? Why would he do it? Why would he do it? Not O.J. Simpson. Not the O.J. Simpson we think we know, not the O.J. Simpson we think we’ve seen over the years. We’ve seen him play football for USC, we watched him play against UCLA, play in the Rose Bowl, we watched him win the Heisman Trophy. He may be the best running back in the history of the NFL.
We watched him leap turnstiles and chairs and run to the airplane in Hertz commercials. . . . We watched him with a 50-inch Afro in “Naked Gun 33 1/3.” We’ve seen him time and time again. We came to think that we know him.
What we’ve been seeing, ladies and gentlemen, is just a public face, a public persona, a face of the athlete, a face of the actor. It is not the actor who is on trial here today, ladies and gentlemen. It is not that public face. There is that other face. Like many men in public, there is a public image, a public side, a public life. He may also have a private side, a private face. And that is the face we will expose to you in this trial, the other side of O.J. Simpson.
The other face that Nicole Brown encountered almost every day of her adult life, the face she encountered at the last moment of her adult life, the face that encountered Ronald Goldman during the last moments of his life.
The evidence will show that the face you see, and the man you will see, is the face of a batterer, a wife beater, an abuser, a controller. You will see the face of Ron and Nicole’s murderer.
To understand what happened, we need to examine the defendant’s relationship with Nicole. You will see his motive for killing his ex-wife. As you hear the evidence in the case, that motive will become clear. He killed Nicole--not because he hated her. He didn’t hate Nicole. He didn’t kill her because he didn’t love her anymore. He killed for a reason almost as old as mankind itself. He killed her out of jealousy. He killed her because he couldn’t have her. And if he couldn’t have her, he didn’t want anybody else to have her. He killed her to control her.
Control was a continuing thing, the central focus of the entire relationship. By killing Nicole, the defendant assumed total control of her. By killing her, nobody could have her.
He killed Ron Goldman for another reason. He killed Ron Goldman because he got in the way.
He killed Nicole because he had a problem with her, as men and women sometimes do have in relationships. They have a problem, and this defendant’s problem demanded a courtroom. I think he stated the problem rather eloquently as he stood over her body at her wake. And he said then, and he said on other occasions, and I quote, he said while standing over Nicole’s body, “My problem was that I loved her too much.”
‘It Wasn’t Really Love . . . It Was an Obsession’
But it wasn’t really love, ladies and gentleman, and this’ll be reflected in the evidence, and the evidence will establish that it wasn’t really love. What this defendant had for Nicole Brown wasn’t love, it was an obsession. He became obsessed with her, and his obsession was so great that he developed a need to control her. And his need to control, and his obsession was so great that when he came to realize that he could not keep her, he killed her, because to let her go would mean to lose control of her. To let her go with Ron Goldman or someone else would mean to lose control. He couldn’t have her, and neither could anyone else.
Now the evidence in this case will establish that the man in the courtroom, this defendant is an extremely controlling, obsessive man. And as I said before, control and obsessiveness was the single, dominant theme in their relationship, and he controlled her in a variety of ways.
He controlled her financially. When the defendant and Nicole first met, she was barely 18 years old, he was almost 30. She shared an apartment, he owned a mansion. She waited tables at a restaurant. He was a millionaire. No one had ever heard of Nicole Brown, but he was one of the most recognized men in America. But after he met her, he slowly began to control her. She shared an apartment with a friend, he got her her own apartment. He bought her things, he gave her things. By the time she was 19, she was driving a Porsche. He got it for her. He began to gain control over her.
And throughout the years, throughout their relationship, he maintained that economic control over her. . . .
As the years went on, and as they continued to date, and as he gained more and more control over her, the more control he gained, the more abusive he became. As you listen to the evidence of the case, you’re going to be hearing evidence regarding domestic abuse, violence, intimidation, physical abuse, wife beating, public humiliation. As you listen to the trial and as you hear the evidence and see this evidence, please keep in mind that all of these different kinds of abuse were all different methods to control her.
The evidence will show, in this case, that he abused her mentally. He stripped her of her self-esteem. This defendant dictated the way Nicole was dressed. He dictated the way she could wear her hair. . . .
But demeaning her, and controlling the purse strings, and isolating her and isolating her into who she would see and who her friends would see and who they would not see wasn’t all this defendant did to control this woman. There are more powerful forms of control.
There’s force. There’s violence. There’s fear. There’s intimidation. And you will hear testimony, you will see evidence, that in his quest for controlling Nicole, this defendant used all of these things. . . .
I mentioned earlier that they met when she was around 18 years old back in 1977, and they dated for eight years. And they eventually married in 1985. And the marriage was a stormy marriage, and it was a marriage punctuated by acts of violence, and that violence would always be followed by an apology; he would apologize, give her jewelry, buy her flowers. He would promise to do better, promise to maintain control of himself. And he would promise not to do it again. And then those acts of violence would be followed by additional acts of violence, and it became a cycle--violence, apologies, a period of quiet and calm, then violence and apologies, quiet and calm, violence, apologies, quiet and calm. A cycle of violence characterized their relationship, it characterized their marriage. . . .
You’ll hear testimony in this case from Nicole’s mother, and she’ll tell you about some of the telephone conversations she had with the defendant after 1992, some even more recent. And in one conversation, he told her . . . “All my friends tell me that I should just leave her alone, just forget about her, just go on with my own life,” and when Mrs. Brown said, “Why don’t you do that? Let her go. If you let her go, then maybe she’ll come back to you. Just let her go, and maybe she’ll come back.” And his response was, “I can’t. You know I can’t. You know I can’t help myself. I can’t let her go.” He couldn’t let her go. He couldn’t help but pursue her. . . .
Still, she stayed. Still, they remained involved, not only in the sense that he was the father of her children, but they still attempted to reconcile. And over the months after October of 1993, they tried to get together, and they failed. They tried to get together, and they failed. And in May of 1994, Nicole--it was Nicole’s birthday. And the defendant gave her a very nice gift, a piece of jewelry, and they attempted to reconcile, for lack of a better description, but the evidence will show that it was a very brief attempt because a few days later Nicole called it quits.
She woke up to the true reality of her situation. She couldn’t be bought anymore. She couldn’t live like that, and the evidence will show that she let the defendant know that it was over. This is it. Hasta la vista. . . . She had had enough, and the evidence will show that she let the defendant know that.
‘He Could Not Accept That Loss of Control . . . He Wouldn’t, and Didn’t’
And the evidence will show that finally after 17 years he finally got the message. It finally became clear that she wanted to live her own life and . . . he was not going to be a part of it. . . . He could not accept that loss of control. And he wouldn’t, and he didn’t.
On June 12, a dance recital was held in Brentwood for the defendant’s daughter, Sydney. The entire Brown family went to the recital, as did some friends, Candace Garvey, for instance. The auditorium was crowded, and so not everyone could sit, you know, next to a family member, and so their party was, you know, there were people between them.
He sat behind the Browns for a few moments, but then got up, and he grabbed a chair and dragged it to a corner of the auditorium, turned that chair around and he sat in it. And he sat there facing Nicole and just stared at her. He just sat there staring at her. You’ll hear testimony about this and the evidence will show that this was a menacing stare, a penetrating stare. It was an angry stare and it made everyone very uncomfortable.
When the recital was over, there was a little issue of whether or not the defendant was allowed to give Sydney some flowers--he gave her some flowers. But the Brown family had decided to go over to the Mezzaluna restaurant for dinner, and as they left, they made it clear to the defendant that he was not invited. And he wasn’t invited. Of not inviting him it was a reaffirmation of what he’d already been told, and that was that he was no longer being treated as a part of the family. He was no longer the central centerpiece of every family outing. Nicole was getting on with her own life. And as the Brown family left they looked toward the defendant, and they saw him, and he was angry and he was depressed and they were concerned. And everyone wondered, “What is he up to now?”
Miss Clark will tell you exactly what the defendant was up to as the day proceeded on. But there’s some things you should know about this evidence, and as you hear it.
This is not character assassination. This is not a tabloid prosecution. The evidence you will hear in this case will be evidence that this defendant is lying. His conduct, the things he did, the evidence of his relationship with one of the victims, and as you hear the evidence and as you hear Miss Clark, you’ll see how it is that Ron Goldman happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. As you listen to the evidence you will see that his decision to kill finally was merely a final link in a progressive chain of controlling conduct. It was a chain that consisted of fear and intimidation and battery and emotional and mental abuse. And economic abuse and control and stalking.
And you’ll see that there was a common scheme, a common plan in all of this. And that was to control. To control her. It was all designed just to control her. And in controlling her, it was depriving the man, depriving O.J. Simpson, who is the defendant, who committed that final, ultimate act of control. She left him. She was no longer in his control. He was obsessed with her. He could not stand to lose her and so he murdered her. And as you hear the evidence in this case, it will become clear that, in his mind, she belonged to him and if he couldn’t have her, then nobody could.
Excerpts from Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Clark, who followed Christopher Darden in the prosecution’s opening statement:
You’ve now heard the why . . . . Why would Orenthal James Simpson, a man who seemingly had it all, commit such heinous crimes, throw it all away. The one simple truth about the evidence described to you by Mr. Darden is that it shows that Mr. Simpson is a man--not a stereotype but flesh and blood who can do both good and evil.
Being wealthy, being famous cannot change one simple truth: He’s a person and people have good sides and bad sides. Whether you see both sides or not, both sides are always there.
Now we will show you the other side of the smiling face you saw in the Hertz commercial, the one you never saw on camera, the one none of us ever wanted to see. And that was the side that went from Rockingham at his estate to Nicole’s home at 875 S. Bundy on the night of June the 12th, 1994.
Now on that night, many events were happening at the same time and in order to give you a true picture, the most clear and accurate picture of what really happened, how the events occurred, I’m going to go back and forth between the parties and between the locations. . . .
With respect to the timing, the evidence will show that on the night of June 12, 1994, the defendant had an hour and 10 minutes of time in which his whereabouts are unaccounted for. And we will show that it was during that hour and 10 minutes that the murders were committed.
And so, the evidence will prove that Kato (Brian Kaelin) last saw the defendant on the night of June the 12th at 9:35 at the latest. He did not see the defendant again until after 11:00. In between those two times, at 10:15, a dog is heard barking that the evidence will show was Nicole’s dog, which fixes the time at which the murder occurred. At 10:45, Kato heard thumps on his wall and shortly after 11:00, he saw the defendant. An hour and 10 minutes, during which the murders occurred, in which the defendant’s whereabouts are unaccounted for. . . .
Apart from the test results, ladies and gentlemen, the mere fact that we find blood where there should be no blood in the defendant’s car, in his house, in the driveway and even on the socks in his very bedroom at the foot of his bed, that trail of blood from Bundy through his own Ford Bronco and into his house in Rockingham, is devastating proof of his guilt.
And the results of the analysis of that blood confirms what the rest of the evidence will show, that on June the 12th, 1994, after a violent relationship in which the defendant beat her, humiliated her and controlled her, after he took her youth, her freedom and her self-respect, just as she tried to break free, Orenthal James Simpson took her very life in what amounted to his final and his ultimate act of control.
And in that final and terrible act, Ronald Goldman, an innocent bystander, was viciously and senselessly murdered.
Remember that in voir dire we asked you if you could use your common sense and reason to fairly and to objectively evaluate this evidence as neutral impartial judges of the facts. You all promised that you could and you would and we believe that you will.
We have every faith and belief in the fact that you will all keep that promise, but it will not be easy. You will be tested and tempted throughout this case to accept the unreasonable and be distracted by the irrelevant.
The defense will talk to you about possibilities, and they’ll insinuate many sinister things based on those possibilities, possibilities of contamination, possibilities of setup, all in an effort to explain away all of the physical evidence. But possibilities alone do not equal proof. You’ve heard the instruction that says that all matters subject to human affairs are capable of some possible doubt.
That’s why the standard is reasonable doubt, and you’ll hear the word “reasonable” more than once in the jury instructions and you already have because if the proof standard was beyond all possible doubt there could never be a conviction. There can always be a possible doubt about something. The question is whether you have a doubt that is founded in reason. So beware of the efforts to get you to accept the unreasonable, be distracted by the irrelevant and to base your decision on speculation, on mere possibilities with no hard evidence to show that any of them really occurred. . . .
‘Each One of You Is a Judge. Each One of You Is a Trier of Fact’
You are going to have to be ever vigilant in acting as the judges in this case. Each one of you is a judge. Each one of you is a trier of fact. You have to examine all the evidence very carefully and ask yourselves, “Is this reasonable? Is this logical? Does this make sense? Would I look at this evidence the same way. . . .”
(Objection at this point by defense attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr: Your Honor, she is starting to argue now.
Judge Ito: Sounds like argument to me.
Look at the evidence the same way you would for any other case.
Now, winning is not what this is about. This is not a game. This is about justice and seeing that justice is done. Two people have been brutally murdered and the evidence consistently will point to the guilt of only one person as the murderer. . . .
There was no rush to judgment in this case. It was very carefully considered before it was filed. The evidence will show, ladies and gentlemen, that as of June the 15th, many DNA results had already been returned. As of June the 15th, there had already been a match between the defendant and the blood found at Bundy Drive. There had already been a match between the victims and the blood found on the glove at his house. . . .
My job is to seek justice. I’ve had cases before this one, there will be cases after it.
This case not about the lawyers, myself, Mr. Hodgman, Mr. Darden or Mr. Cochran.
We have to remember what this case is about. And justice for all. Ladies and gentlemen, if those words are to mean anything, we must all be equal in the eyes of the law and we cannot use a sliding scale to judge guilt or innocence based on a defendant or a victim’s popularity. . . .
On behalf of all of us for putting up with the rigors of sequestration, we all know it’s difficult, and we appreciate all of your dedication to duty and service in this case. Thank you very much.
Hear the Prosecution
* To hear excerpts from Tuesday’s opening statements in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, as well as a summary of the day’s proceedings, call TimesLine at 808-8463 and press *1950. Details on Times electronic services, B4