Watch CBS News

O.J. Simpson's murder trial unfolded nearly 30 years ago. Where are the key players now?

O.J. Simpson's complicated legacy
O.J. Simpson's death reignites discussions on his complicated legacy 07:16

The June 12, 1994 killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman brought what's dubbed the "Trial of the Century" that culminated with O.J. Simpson's acquittal of the murders. The announcement Thursday that Simpson is dead has brought renewed attention to the closely watched trial and the fascinating cast of characters who played a role in the case.

Here's a look at where they are now.

The defendant

Two years after Simpson's 1995 acquittal, a civil court jury found him liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman and ordered he pay their survivors $33.5 million. He got into a series of minor legal scrapes ranging from a 2001 Florida road-rage incident to racing his boat through a protected Florida manatee zone in 2002; he was acquitted for the former and fined for the latter.

His most serious transgression came in 2007, however, when he and five others barged into a Las Vegas hotel room with guns and seized property from memorabilia dealers that Simpson claimed to own. He served nine years in a Nevada prison and was paroled in 2017. In recent years, Simpson lived quietly in Las Vegas, where he played golf and sometimes posed for selfies with those still enamored with his celebrity.

OJ Simpson Trial Continues In Las Vegas
O.J. Simpson appears in District Court during his trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center September 26, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Steve Marcus / Getty Images

He died Wednesday from prostate cancer.

The victims' families

Ron Goldman's sister, Kim, was 22 and broke into sobs when the not-guilty verdict was read. Since then, she counseled troubled teens as executive director of a Southern California-based nonprofit, The Youth Project, until it closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A best-selling author and public speaker, Kim Goldman also has launched several podcasts including "Confronting: OJ Simpson" and, most recently, "Media Circus."

Fred Goldman, Ron's father, has relentlessly pursued Simpson through civil courts, maintaining it is the only way to achieve justice for his son. Goldman's family has seized some of Simpson's memorabilia, including his 1968 Heisman Trophy as college football's best player that year. The family has also taken the rights to Simpson's movies, a book he wrote about the killings, and other items to satisfy part of the $33.5 million judgment that Simpson refused to pay. Goldman told NBC News Thursday that Simpson's death was "no great loss to the world."

Fred Goldman and Denise Brown
Fred Goldman and Denise Brown AP

Denise Brown, Nicole Brown Simpson's sister, has remained the family's most outspoken critic of Simpson, although, like the Goldman family, she refuses to speak his name. The former model has become a victims' rights advocate and a speaker, urging both women and men to leave abusive relationships. She said she has moved past her anger with God for the killings but has never forgiven Simpson, and will not watch any films or documentaries about them.

The legal "Dream Team"

Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., Simpson's lead attorney, died of brain cancer in 2005 at 68. His refrain to jurors - "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" - sought to underscore that the bloody gloves found at Simpson's home and the crime scene were too small for the football legend when he tried them on in court. After the trial, that line became a national catchphrase. Following the trial, Cochran expanded his law firm to 15 states and frequently appeared on television. He also became the inspiration for Jackie Chiles, the bombastic lawyer character on the TV sitcom "Seinfeld."

Another key part of the defense team, Robert Kardashian, died of esophageal cancer in 2003 at age 59. A longtime friend of Simpson's, he renewed his law license specifically to represent him in the trial. Between the time of the murders and his arrest, Simpson stayed in Kardashian's home. When Simpson fled authorities in a white Ford Bronco on June 17, 1994, Kardashian read to reporters a rambling message Simpson had left behind as a historic freeway chase unfolded on national television. Since his death, Kardashian's fame has been eclipsed by that of ex-wife Kris, and children Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Rob, thanks to their reality TV show, "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian and reality TV personality who was previously married to Kris Jenner, wrote Thursday after Simpson's death: "Good riddance."

Simpson reacts after the jury said he was not guilty in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman Oct. 3, 1995. Lead attorney Johnnie Cochran stands behind Simpson as attorneys F. Lee Bailey, far left, Robert Kardashian, second from left, and Robert Shapiro, far right, listen to the jury verdict. AP

Robert Shapiro, the first member of Simpson's defense team, continues to practice law. In 2005, he created a foundation that grants college scholarships to 11- to 18-year-olds for staying sober after his 24-year-old son died of an overdose.

Barry Scheck was the lawyer who introduced DNA science to jurors and undermined the prosecution's forensic evidence by attacking the collection methods. He and fellow defense lawyer Peter Neufeld co-founded The Innocence Project in 1992. It uses DNA evidence to exonerate people who were wrongly convicted.

F. Lee Bailey was the lawyer who played a key role in exposing racist statements made by one of the prosecution's key witnesses, police Det. Mark Fuhrman, which undermined his credibility. When he joined the defense team, Bailey was already famous for his role in some of the most high-profile cases of the 20th century, including that of heiress-turned-bank-robber Patricia Hearst. Bailey was disbarred in Massachusetts and Florida in the early 2000s for misconduct in handling a client's case. He died in 2021.

Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor emeritus, also helped Simpson get an acquittal and consulted on the scientific aspects of the case. Since then, he courted controversy by helping the late hedge fund manager and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein win a lenient sentence for abusing underaged girls. He was also part of President Donald Trump's impeachment defense team that ended with his acquittal.

"He had a very complicated legacy," attorney Carl E. Douglas, who was on Simpson's legal team during the murder trial, told CBS News. He said Simpson's legacy included his accomplishments on the football field and successful move from athletics to becoming a highly sought-after pitchman.

"Before Michael Jackson, before Tiger Woods, there was O.J. Simpson running through airports and highways hawking cereal, cars and rental car agencies," Douglas said.

The prosecutors

Marcia Clark, the trial's lead prosecutor, quit law after the trial, although she has appeared frequently over the years as a TV commentator on high-profile trials. She was paid $4 million for her 2016 memoir, "Without a Doubt," and has gone on to write a series of crime novels.

The prosecution team in the O.J. Simpson trial listen as the "not guilty" verdict is read 03 October in Los Angeles. (From L-R:) Christopher Darden (L), Marcia Clark (C) and William Hodgman (R).  POO/AFP/Getty Images

Chris Darden, the co-prosecutor, was criticized for having Simpson try on the bloody gloves in the courtroom without first ensuring they would fit. He is now a defense attorney himself. He represented the man charged with killing hip-hop mogul Nipsey Hussle before withdrawing from the case, saying his family had received death threats. Darden has also taught law, appeared on television as a legal commentator and wrote about the Simpson trial in the 1996 book, "In Contempt." Currently, he is running for Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.

The judge

Lance Ito retired in 2015 after presiding over approximately 500 trials. Simpson's trial made him such a household name that "The Tonight Show" briefly featured a comedy segment called "The Dancing Itos," in which lookalikes performed in judicial robes. After the Simpson trial, he had to remove his nameplate from his courtroom door because people kept stealing it. Ito has never discussed the trial publicly, citing judicial ethics.

In this Sept. 29, 1995 file photo, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito yells in court during the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial in Los Angeles.  AP Photo/Eric Draper, Pool, File

The houseguest

Brian "Kato" Kaelin, a struggling actor living in a guest house on Simpson's property, testified he heard a "bump" during the night of the murders and went outside to find Simpson in the yard. Prosecutors later said Kaelin's testimony showed Simpson was sneaking back home after the killings. Mocked on talk shows as America's most famous houseguest, Kaelin has gone on to appear on reality shows, as well as in small parts in TV sitcoms and films, and to launch a loungewear clothing line.

Brian 'Kato' Kaelin testifies in the O.J. Simpson double murder trial, Los Angeles, California, March 22, 1995.  Hal Garb/AFP/Getty Images
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.