It has been a nightmare year that began with a telephone call in the early morning hours of June 13, 1994, the stomachcurdling call that every parent fears when the phone rings in the middle of the night.
Since then, each family has found its own way to cope.
For Louis Brown, the father of Nicole Brown Simpson, it’s been a year of shock, grief and unabated frustration. Anger rose in his voice as a reporter asked how he would describe the last 12 months.
“The last year has been horrible,” he said. “Every Sunday to hear the rehash of the week’s events and the attorneys coming up with some new lies, new hired witnesses, like that maid,” he said, referring Rosa Lopez, the housekeeper who worked next door to O.J. Simpson and was called to the witness stand to back up his alibi.
On most days Brown and his wife, Juditha, choose not to make the fivehour round-trip drive to the downtown courthouse from their home in Dana Point in Orange County.
“Why, so I can tear my heart for my daughter that’s gone?” he said, the anger creeping back into his voice. “No.”
On Thursday, Judge Lance Ito ended the court day early when Ronald Lyle Goldman’s father, Fred, broke down during autopsy testimony. Kim Goldman, the victim’s sister, is in court every day, often accompanied by her stepmother, Patti. She says she and her brother had made a promise always to be there for each other.
“The reason we go (to court) is to make certain that Ron is not forgotten and that hopefully justice is won,” Fred Goldman said. “We want the jurors and everyone else involved in the trial not to forget that there were two people brutally murdered.”
Other than that, he said, “We take every day one day at a time.”
Both families share the frustrations of listening to defense arguments that they find offensive and testimony that is given in mind-numbing detail that seems to have no relevance to the case. For Louis Brown, the coroner’s testimony last week about the dimensions of the stab wounds, whether they were an eighth or a 16th of an inch, was a perfect example.
Rather that go to court each day, he said, he works at the foundation for battered women that he and the family, established in his daughter’s name. The Nicole Brown Simpson Charitable Foundation distributes money nationwide to groups that help victims of domestic violence. Recently, the family began a national campaign to have June 12, the anniversary of the murders, declared “Stop the Violence Day,” writing to governors in every state to get the word out.
“Not just for Ron and Nicole, but for all the victims everywhere,” Brown said.
“We turned it into something positive and reached out our hands to all those other women and their families who are going through the same thing,” Nicole Simpson’s sister, Tanya Brown, told talk-show host Leeza Gibbons in an interview for NBC’s “Leeza.”
The show is set to air Monday on the first anniversary of Simpson’s death.
Led by another sister, Denise Brown, the family has been outspoken in its belief that Simpson is guilty, calling her sister’s death the culmination of years of abuse at Simpson’s hands.
Denise Brown has led the effort to establish the foundation and travels the country to discuss the issue.
“I want to let people know that if he hits you once, he will hit you again,” Denise Brown said in a recent interview on WWCP-TV in Johnstown, Pa. “I want to let people know that if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your children.”
Lou and Juditha Brown say caring for their late daughter’s two young children - 9-year-old Sydney and 6-year-old Justin - has kept them busy while dealing with their pain.
They said the children have adjusted well to the loss of their mother and father. The kids are not allowed to watch the daily broadcasts of their father’s trial.
“They miss their mommy, they miss their daddy, but they don’t have nightmares, they don’t have crying outbursts,” Juditha Brown told the syndicated television show “A Current Affair” in an interview to air Monday.