LOS ANGELES – A prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial said last week that he believes defense attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. tampered with the famous “bloody glove” that was a key piece of evidence in the football star’s acquittal.
During the celebrated murder trial, Simpson tried on bloody gloves and held up his hands in front of the jury box to let everyone see the leather bunched up around his broad palms. That demonstration became a powerful symbol for the defense, summed up by Cochran: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Several jurors cited the too-tight gloves as a key reason for voting to acquit Simpson. But last week, Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors on the case, told Reuters news service and a law school audience that he believes Cochran manipulated the glove.
According to the news service:
On Thursday, during a panel discussion about the trial at Pace Law School in New York City, Darden, a member of the prosecution team, declared: “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.”
Darden said in a follow-up interview on Friday that he noticed that when Simpson was trying on a glove for the jury its structure appeared to have changed. “A bailiff told me the defense had it during the lunch hour.” He said he wasn’t specifically accusing anyone, adding: “It’s been my suspicion for a long time that the lining has been manipulated.”
The glove incident was seen as the pivotal moment in the 1995 trial.
At the time, Darden tried to explain how the glove would not fit Simpson by bringing in expert Richard Rubin, who “testified that moisture had caused the extra-large leather gloves to shrink nearly a full size and lose much of their elasticity,” according to a Los Angeles Times report. Rubin said “the gloves in their original condition would easily go onto the hand of someone of Mr. Simpson’s size.”
Cochran died in 2005. But others who worked with the defense rejected Darden’s charges as a total fabrication.
“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,” attorney Shawn Holley said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “Mr. Darden’s self-serving assertion that Johnnie Cochran tampered with the glove – or any piece of evidence – is false, malicious and slanderous.
“Almost 20 years later, it seems Mr. Darden is still trying to exculpate himself from one of the biggest blunders in the history of jurisprudence.”