It’s been nearly 25 years since Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were found stabbed to death outside Brown Simpson’s Brentwood, California, home. A quarter of a century is long enough to heal most wounds. But, for two members of the prosecution, their failure to secure a conviction against the man they believe to be responsible, the pain of that loss feels as fresh as it did the day a jury announced O.J. Simpson was not guilty of murder.
“Time doesn’t heal much of anything,” Christopher Darden said Saturday at the 2019 CrimeCon in New Orleans. Darden worked for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office at the time, and was a lead prosecutor on the Simpson case.
“It was a shameful day for justice, and to have been a part of this massive failure is a shame on me,” he said.
A day earlier, former Los Angeles Police Department Detective Tom Lange expressed his own frustration, ticking through a laundry list of evidence he and his partners collected which, they believed, painted a damning portrait of Simpson’s guilt, but was never presented at trial.
“You can never have enough evidence in a murder case. You put it all on,” said Lange, who admitted he was becoming angry just talking about it. “Why wouldn’t you put this on? I couldn’t believe it. I was flabbergasted. I still am.”
The evidence Lange described included:
- A witness who said she saw Simpson, wearing a black knit ski hat, prowling around Nicole Brown Simpson’s home around 11:30 p.m., six months before the murders
- An employee at a cutlery store who said Simpson purchased a knife, similar to the one used in the murders, three weeks before the deaths of Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson
- A witness who said he saw Simpson at the Los Angeles airport, maybe an hour after the murders occurred, taking items out of a bag and shoving them deep into a trash can
- A tape recording of police responding to a domestic disturbance call at Nicole Brown Simpson’s house after she accused her ex-husband of breaking into her home and assaulting her
“You want to do background on this victim. Why she was murdered? Would this person would murder her? Listen to that tape,” Lange said, describing how you could hear on the recording a panicked Nicole Brown Simpson while her ex-husband is screaming and raging in the background. “Does that make him a good candidate? Hell yes. But the prosecution didn’t want to put that on.”
Lange added that he didn’t blame Darden for the failure to convict Simpson.
“Chris is not one of these people who dismissed evidence," Lange said. "He’s one of the guys that really got in there and tried to dig.”
Darden spent much of his time at CrimeCon discussing lessons he learned from the trial. One of which was the pivotal role that race played in the proceedings. The black jurors serving on the Simpson trial were likely suspicious of a criminal justice system, including prosecutors and police officers, that had long abused their community, Darden said.
“We have to do something about it. We have to do something to make the system fairer. We have to do away with double standards,” he said. “Harvey Weinstein is supposed to get the same sentence any other rapist would. Don’t tell me they’re going to send Bill Cosby to prison, but you can’t send Harvey. I’m not buying it. Either we’re going to be harsh and mean and unfair to everybody or we’re going to be fair to everybody.”
Throughout his presentation, Darden made it a point to keep the focus on the victims.
“I’ve learned a lot of things from the O.J. Simpson trial, and as we move towards the anniversary, one of the things I’ve learned is 25 years is a long time to be dead,” Darden said. “When I think about Nicole, and I think about Ron, she was just about 35 years old and he was 25 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them. Ron never had the chance to be married, to be a father. Nicole was deprived of her God-given right to raise her children.”
Darden then asked himself, what would he say to the victims if he had the chance?
“I would say, ‘God bless you. Rest in heaven. Sometimes justice is slow, but if you don’t get your justice here on this earth, there will be another kind of justice waiting for O.J. Simpson.’”
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