He’s America’s most infamous inmate. From all-star football player to convicted felon, OJ Simpson is set to walk free after serving nine years in prison.
It’s a defining cultural tale of modern America – a saga of race, celebrity, media, violence, and the criminal justice system. O.J. Simpson became one of the most controversial and polarizing celebrities in pop culture history. He had first skyrocketed to fame and fortune as a gridiron icon with Hollywood looks, who transitioned from athlete to actor with ease. But his fall from grace would prove equally stunning when he was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. With underlying themes of race and police corruption, it became the “trial of the century”, transfixing and ultimately dividing the country when Simpson was acquitted on all counts. A subsequent civil trial would find Simpson liable for the death and order him to pay a total of $33.5 million to the families of his two victims.
But ultimately Simpson would not escape prison: he would wind up in court and caught up in scandal again for his role in a 2007 robbery of his own memorabilia.
Now, in only a few weeks, O.J. Simpson will be walking out of Lovelock, a Nevada prison, as early as October 1, 2017.
For myself, I can’t say I’ve always followed this case. I’m one of the few who didn’t pause in the middle of the day to turn on the television to hear the verdict like an unbelievable 150 million people did. Back in 1995 when Simpson was charged with the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, I was in the middle of my own family member’s murder trial. My father, Keith Jesperson, was arrested for the murder of his fiancée Julie Winningham and after several months in an Oregon jail, as we awaited my father’s trial we all came to learn the horrifying truth—that there were multiple murders. A total of eight that were confirmed.
Maybe this is why I missed the Simpson media circus as I was going through my own crisis, but now it’s been years since my father has been sentenced to life in prison, and I can’t help but reflect as millions of Americans do, on the case that changed how we look at court shows on TV and how crime scenes and DNA are processed. Despite all the mistakes that we have since learned from, regardless of how we have improved in terms of scientific discovery and technology, the victims’ families will never have a second chance to reexamine what could’ve been.
Maybe that’s why we are once again transfixed by the parole release of O.J. Simpson?
In a matter of weeks, Simpson will walk free once again and it begs the question: How will this tragedy ultimately unfold? Will the Browns and Goldmans ever find justice in their lifetime? How will O.J. live out the rest of his years? Will he return to the spotlight he’s known most of his career or fade off quietly into retirement?
We invited Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm Lavergne, and Fred Goldman to sit down with Dr. Oz and myself for this week’s True Crime Tuesday and answer these questions. Watch the exclusive interview here to get the story behind the headline.