Defense attorneys who represented O.J. Simpson during his 1994-95 murder trial -- one of the most divisive U.S. criminal cases of the 20th century -- have responded to new allegations that one of the most important pieces of evidence had been illegally tampered with.
In 1994, Simpson was charged with the stabbing murders of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman. After a lengthy, dramatic and racially charged trial, Simpson was acquitted and set free.
His primary defense attorney, the late Johnnie Cochran, is credited with making key arguments in defense of Simpson's innocence. One of his most famous assertions had to do with a pair of leather gloves that is now the center of a new controversy.
Two bloody gloves -- one found near the scene of the crime and another on Simpson's own estate -- became pivotal pieces of evidence. Simpson was asked to try on the gloves in court on June 15, 1995, but they were too small for his hands.
"If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," said Cochran to the jury. And acquit they did -- the gloves were a major factor in the decision to declare Simpson not guilty, according to several jurors.
But on Thursday, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden, formerly an assistant prosecutor in the Simpson trial, said during a panel discussion that he had always believed the gloves were tampered with.
"I think Johnnie tore the lining. There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.'s fingers couldn't go all the way up into the glove."
The next day, Darden added that defense attorneys had possession of the glove during a lunch hour before Simpson tried them on, and may have tampered with it then.
But on Saturday, attorney Shawn Holley offered his rebuttal to Darden's accusations.
"As members of the defense team, Carl Douglas and I were present in court on the day that Chris Darden asked O.J. Simpson to try on the glove. Mr. Darden's self-serving assertion that Johnnie Cochran tampered with the glove -- or any piece of evidence -- is false, malicious and slanderous," said Holley to the Los Angeles Times.
Simpson was declared not guilty on Oct. 3, 1995. But he was convicted on several new counts of criminal activity, including robbery and kidnapping assault with a deadly weapon, in October 2008 and sentenced to at least nine years in prison, which he is currently serving at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada.
Johnnie Cochran passed away in 2005.
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