Nation/World


Verdicts Bring Grief And Relief Simpson’s Relatives Rejoice While Victims’ Relatives Grieve

The families always knew it would come down to this: to winners and losers, to grief or relief. And so O.J. Simpson’s family thanked God for answering their prayers. The Browns stoically said they accepted the jury’s verdict. The Goldmans? They spoke of damnation and nightmares.

If the Simpson trial was often seen by lawyers and pundits as a battle of evidence and witnesses and strategies, the families were always waiting for this moment, for release, for justice - to avenge the death of their loved ones or to free one wrongly accused.

Minutes after Simpson’s acquittal, his sisters, mother and daughter sat in Judge Lance Ito’s courtroom, dressed in the colors of the rainbow, their faces beaming with smiles, their faces streaked with tears of joy. As Simpson was being driven to the city jail to retrieve his belongings and begin his drive home, his family was already talking of putting their lives back together, of moving on.

“I feel like standing on top of this table and dancing a jig!” boomed Shirley Simpson Baker, when asked again the ubiquitous question of the modern media age: How do you feel? The reporters laughed.

Eunice Simpson, O.J’s mother and the regal grand dame of the trial, sat crippled with arthritis in a wheel chair, but made the chair seem like a throne. “I was always in prayer,” she said. “I knew my son was innocent. I kept the faith.”

For Ron Goldman’s family, it was a day to sorely test their faith. When the verdicts were read, Kim Goldman, Ron’s sister, began sobbing, and, clung to her father as she cried uncontrollably. As the words “not guilty” filled the room, Ron’s stepmother Patti Goldman dropped to her knees. His father, Fred Goldman shut his eyes, and then seemed to draw back, as if he were punched or his heart stopped.

“Murderer,” Fred Goldman hissed.

“Oh, my God, how could they?” Patti Goldman said.

Upstairs in the prosecutors’ offices, an hour later, it was like walking into an emergency room moments after a patient was declared dead. The silence. The restraint. The faintest trembling of lead prosecutor Marcia Clark’s hands.

When she spoke, Clark talked not of the trial’s evidence, or her future or disappointment, but about the Goldman and Brown families.

“Their strength and dignity have been a source of inspiration,” she said quietly. “My sympathy and love go out to them.”

Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden stood at the podium, barely audible, and whispered that he never imagined being here, “never imagined having to turn to the Goldmans when he was acquitted.”

Darden said he was not bitter, not angry. He turned toward the family of Ronald Goldman, who were leaning on each other for support, only the father Fred Goldman visible above the prosecutors.

“I am honored to have … ” Darden began.

But he could not continue. Darden began to weep and he turned quickly away from the cameras, almost falling onto a group of his fellow prosecutors, who huddled around him, wrapping him in their arms as he cried. Darden left the room, followed by his partner, Clark.

Minutes later, Fred Goldman came before the cameras, wearing a button showing the face of his son, the aspiring 25-year-old actor who went to Nicole Brown Simpson’s condominium to return a pair of eyeglasses one June night and was murdered with her.

“June 13, 1994 was the worst nightmare of my life,” Goldman said, squinting back the sting of tears, recalling the day after the murder when he knew son was gone. “This is the second.”

Goldman, who during the trial repeatedly lashed out at Simpson’s defense team, raging against defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran’s comparsion of former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman to Adolf Hilter, seemed numbed Tuesday. The Goldmans are Jewish and Tuesday night began Yom Kippur, the most somber of the Jewish holidays, the day of atonement.

“I deeply believe this country lost today,” Goldman croaked. “Justice was not served.”

With his wife, Patti, by his side, her face red and wet, Fred Goldman blurted out: “I will forever be proud of my son and my family … thank you.”

And then he rushed from the room to join Darden, who never returned after he left.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Reaction to the verdict: Marcia Clark Lead Prosecutor “Please don’t let this make you lose faith in our system.

Johnnie Cochran Jr. Lead Defense Attorney “We never talked about a guilty verdict. … We never wavered in our faith.”

Gil Garcetti Los Angeles County District Attorney “It’s over from our viewpoint.”

Eunice Simpson O.J.’s mother, “I knew that my son was innocent and I had the support of so many people all over the world.”

Christopher Darden Prosecutor “We came here in search of justice. You will have to be the judge … as to whether any of us found it today.”

Kato Kaelin Simpson houseguest “The Brown family does not have Nicole and the Goldman family does not have Ron, and I felt with the verdict that, no matter what, they’re not going to be coming back, and it’s a very mixed feeling.” Faye Resnick Nicole Simpson’s friend “Oh God! Nicole was right. She said he was going to kill her and get away with it. He always said he was above the law. I can’t believe a murderer is walking free. That jury should really be ashamed of themselves. How dare they disregard these people’s lives. How dare they?” Willie Williams L.A. Police Chief “I certainly hope the decision was not based on the defense team putting my department on trial … that it was not made based on the race card that was being played.”

President Clinton “The jury heard the evidence and rendered its verdict. Our system of justice requires respect for their decision. At this moment our thoughts and prayers should be with the families of the victims of this terrible crime.”

This sidebar appeared with the story: Reaction to the verdict: Marcia Clark Lead Prosecutor “Please don’t let this make you lose faith in our system.

Johnnie Cochran Jr. Lead Defense Attorney “We never talked about a guilty verdict. … We never wavered in our faith.”

Gil Garcetti Los Angeles County District Attorney “It’s over from our viewpoint.”

Eunice Simpson O.J.’s mother, “I knew that my son was innocent and I had the support of so many people all over the world.”

Christopher Darden Prosecutor “We came here in search of justice. You will have to be the judge … as to whether any of us found it today.”

Kato Kaelin Simpson houseguest “The Brown family does not have Nicole and the Goldman family does not have Ron, and I felt with the verdict that, no matter what, they’re not going to be coming back, and it’s a very mixed feeling.” Faye Resnick Nicole Simpson’s friend “Oh God! Nicole was right. She said he was going to kill her and get away with it. He always said he was above the law. I can’t believe a murderer is walking free. That jury should really be ashamed of themselves. How dare they disregard these people’s lives. How dare they?” Willie Williams L.A. Police Chief “I certainly hope the decision was not based on the defense team putting my department on trial … that it was not made based on the race card that was being played.”

President Clinton “The jury heard the evidence and rendered its verdict. Our system of justice requires respect for their decision. At this moment our thoughts and prayers should be with the families of the victims of this terrible crime.”


 

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