A young Kim Kardashian West knows exactly where to find what she’s looking for. Her father, attorney Robert Kardashian, has a place on O.J. Simpson’s defense team. And he keeps all of his evidence books in a special spot in the family home. So, on the weekends, his true-crime-obsessed daughter sneaks into the unexpected location and peeks through it all.
Indeed, much of the country shared Kardashian West’s interest in the O.J. Simpson trial. The case garnered seemingly round-the-clock media coverage. It received front-page placement in The Los Angeles Times for more than 300 days after the crime took place. Between 1994 and 1997, more than 2,200 televised news pieces shared details about the trial.
Of course, the crime to be solved was a vicious one. Someone stabbed to death Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, just outside her condo in Los Angeles, California, on June 12, 1994. Instantly, her ex-husband and former football star Simpson became a suspect – and he responded by running from authorities. And that was just the beginning.
Ultimately, Simpson proclaimed his innocence, and the nation tuned in to see what happened during the high-profile trial. And when they did, they undoubtedly caught glimpses of attorney Robert Kardashian, who sat beside Simpson, his long-time friend. So that he could provide his thoughtful counsel, Kardashian kept piles of evidence at home – stacks that his young daughter and future superstar, Kardashian West, would go through herself.
Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson first stepped into the spotlight as a football player for the University of Southern California. Playing running back for the Trojans, he won the prestigious Heisman Trophy in 1968. From there, Simpson went onto a fruitful career in the NFL. He became the first-ever player to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season.
But Simpson didn’t disappear from the public eye when he retired from the NFL in 1979. He became part of both the College and Pro Football halls of fame in 1983 and 1985, respectively. Simpson also delved into new career pursuits – he tried his hand at acting, and he served as a football broadcaster too.
Five years after his retirement, Simpson made a big change in his personal life too. In 1967, when he was just 19, he had married Marguerite L. Whitley. But a decade later, he met Nicole Brown, a waitress at The Daisy nightclub in Beverly Hills. With his marriage still intact, Simpson started dating Brown.
Eventually, though, Simpson decided to end his first union to Whitley in March of 1979. He would wait nearly six years to make things official with his girlfriend, Brown. The two wed on February 2, 1985, a half-decade after the football star had retired from the NFL. The happy couple went on to welcome two children in the late 1980s: Sydney and Justin.
However, a happy ending wasn’t meant to be for Simpson and Brown. Instead, the couple had a tumultuous relationship, and the police often attended the Simpson household on calls of domestic violence. Simpson even faced charges of spousal abuse in 1989, but he pleaded no contest. Three years later, Brown decided to end it once and for all with divorce papers.
A divorce couldn’t keep Simpson and Brown apart, though. Instead, they got back together – and immediately fell back into their own ways. According to evidence submitted during Simpson’s trial, Brown had called the police on October 25, 1993. The eerie recording replayed Brown crying as she warned that her ex would beat her up.
After that particular incident, Simpson and Brown parted for good, but that wasn’t the last twist in their story. Less than a year later, Brown, along with her friend, Ron Goldman, would be found dead outside of her condo in Los Angeles’s Brentwood neighborhood. Both had died in a horrifically violent stabbing.
In fact, Brown had been stabbed so many times in the head and neck that they barely remained attached to each other. She had stab wounds on her hands too, indicating that she had tried to defend herself from the murder. By the time police arrived, both she and Goldman had been dead for about two hours.
Once on the scene, police officer Robert Riske gathered evidence, including a single blood-spattered glove. After that, authorities trekked to Simpson’s home, also in Brentwood, to inform him that his ex-wife had died. They let themselves onto the property, claiming that they feared Simpson too may have been a victim of the unknown attacker.
But rather than uncovering another grisly scene, police officer Mark Fuhrman allegedly found a stunning piece of evidence. He said that he happened upon a second glove, the partner to the one found at the crime scene. And it too had blood all over it – the droplets matched the DNA of both victims slain in Brentwood that night.
That reported discovery gave police enough evidence to issue an arrest warrant for Simpson. After his questioning, authorities let the former football star go home, at which time he hired Robert Shapiro to lead his defense team. He would need the help. After collecting more evidence, detectives concluded that Simpson should be charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Simpson seemed to be reeling from the events that had unfolded. Indeed, he sedated himself while he stayed with his good friend, attorney Robert Kardashian. Shapiro worried about his mental state and potential suicidal inclinations, especially after he updated his will and penned letters to his children, to his mother and to the public.
But Simpson hadn’t ended his own life. Instead, his friend, Al Cowlings, drove him up Interstate 405 in a white Ford Bronco SUV. By the time police located them, Cowlings warned that Simpson had a gun to his head. So officers pursued the car at a crawling pace, for a police chase anyway – up to 20 police cars trailed the Bronco going 35 miles per hour.
The police chase exemplified what would become seemingly incessant coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. Many stations cut into coverage of the 1994 NBA Finals in favor of covering the low-speed police chase, and 95 million people watched. From there, Simpson’s case became known as the Trial of the Century for how much attention it got from the press and the public.
As previously mentioned, Simpson hired Shapiro to lead his defense. Eventually, though, Johnnie Cochran would take the helm over Simpson’s high-profile legal counsel, who would become known as the “Dream Team.” Alongside Cochran were F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershwoitz, Shawn Holley, Carl E. Douglas, Gerald Uelmen and, of course, Robert Kardashian.
Before his good friend Simpson got arrested for murder, Kardashian had let his law license expire in favor of a career in business. But he activated it once again to help advise the accused as part of his Dream Team. Some believed Kardashian did so as a way to prevent a subpoena that would require him to divulge details of Simpson’s personal life, specifically his treatment of Brown.
Even without Kardashian’s testimony, though, it seemed that the prosecution had plenty of solid evidence against Simpson. For starters, a grand jury heard testimony from two witnesses: Jill Shively and Jose Camacho. Shively claimed to have seen Simpson’s Bronco speeding away from the crime scene, while Camacho said that he had sold the NFL record holder a knife similar to the murder weapon.
But both Shively and Camacho decided to sell their stories to the press before the trial, making their testimony null and void by the time the criminal trial rolled around. District Attorney Marcia Clark still felt she had enough to convict Simpson, though, mainly because of the DNA evidence collected at the scene.
The Los Angeles County coroner collected forensic evidence and found three drops of blood of Simpson’s blood on the gate leading into his home. They also found Brown and Goldman’s DNA inside of Simpson’s Bronco, as well as droplets of blood on his sock. Physical evidence helped them paint a picture of the night Brown died too.
The prosecution claimed that Brown had put her children to bed, then heard a knock or sound outside of the front door. When she had opened it, Simpson had allegedly attacked her so quickly that she didn’t have time to scream. He had had to turn the knife on Goldman, the prosecution said, because he had arrived at Brown’s house and interrupted the attack. With him dead, Simpson had delivered a final blow to his ex-wife to ensure she had died too.
But Simpson’s defense team made the DNA evidence part of their argument too – namely, that it had been grossly mishandled, rendering it unreliable. In the early 1990s, the general public had no idea how precise such testing could be, making their counterpoint a stronger argument than it might be in a modern-day trial.
Still, the most memorable part of the defense’s argument had to be their inclusion of the blood-stained gloves – one discovered at the crime scene and the other on Simpson’s property. Simpson’s legal team convinced Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden to have the suspect try the gloves on in court. The former athlete famously struggled to slip into the gloves, leading Cochran to repeat throughout the trial, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Stunningly, 100 million people tuned in to watch as jurors handed down their verdict in Simpson’s case on October 3, 1995. They found the former football star not guilty on both charges against him. Later, a few of the jurors admitted that they thought Simpson probably had committed the crimes, but the prosecution hadn’t proved it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Another person who questioned Simpson’s innocence was Kardashian himself. Although he had served on his friend’s defense team, the attorney later admitted in an interview with ABC that he had lingering suspicions. He said, “I I have doubts. The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side. That causes me the greatest problems.”
Perhaps because of these sentiments, Kardashian eventually ended his friendship with Simpson. On top of that, Simpson also lost $33.5 million in a civil suit, which found him liable for the death of Goldman and the battery of Brown. A judge also prevented him from earning any profits from a failed deal through which he was supposed to pen a book titled If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.
On the other hand, the rest of Kardashian’s life happened beyond the spotlight. He and his first wife, Kris, had married in 1978 and separated in 1991. Together, they shared four children: Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Rob. Kardashian remarried twice after ending his union with Kris, but he never had any more children.
In July of 2003, Kardashian found out that he had esophageal cancer, a diagnosis that would quickly become fatal. He died two months later at just 59 years old. As such, he missed much of what was to come for his family. They would go on to helm a popular reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and start a slew of successful businesses too.
Kim Kardashian West has had particularly huge success, thanks to the show and her huge social media following. She has produced a slew of products including smartphone apps, games, books and clothing. More recently, she started her self-named KKW Beauty and Fragrance lines, as well as SKims, a shapewear brand. And it’s because of these efforts that as of June of 2019, she has a net worth of $370 million.
Behind the scenes, though, Kardashian West has long harbored a not-so-secret interest in true crime shows and court-centric TV. According to a May 2019 interview in Vogue, the reality TV star always had a close relationship with her father too, which gave her a firsthand look into life as a lawyer.
And Kardashian West recalled how her family’s house became a hub for the defense team during the Simpson trial. She later said, “On the weekends they used our home as an office, with Johnnie Cochran and Bob Shapiro.” Outside of those times, though, her father kept all of his legal documents in a secure location.
Kardashian West revealed, “My dad had a library, and when you pushed on this wall there was this whole hidden closet room, with all of his O.J. evidence books.” Of course, the secretive compartment didn’t keep Kardashian’s young daughter from making her way inside. Instead, she said, “I would always snoop and look through. I was really nosy about the forensics.”
Kardashian West’s early interest in her father’s case files can now be considered foreshadowing for her own future in the legal field. In the same Vogue interview, she revealed that she had decided to become a lawyer herself. She would embark upon a four-year law apprenticeship before taking the bar in 2022.
Unlike her father, though, Kardashian West’s focus mainly falls on reforming the criminal justice system. It all started when she heard the story of Alice Marie Johnson, who had served more than 20 years in prison on a nonviolent drug charge. With that, Kardashian West remembered thinking, “This is so wrong and so bizarre.”
Kardashian West went on to meet with President Trump alongside a team of lawyers and Van Jones, a CNN commentator and criminal-justice reform activist. The President granted clemency to Johnson, freeing her from prison after two decades. He later signed the FIRST STEP Act into law, a bipartisan piece of legislation meant to improve the criminal justice system further.
Watching President Trump make a huge effort to reform the criminal justice system had pushed Kardashian West toward pursuing her legal degree, she said. “I never in a million years thought we would get to the point of getting laws passed. That was really a turning point for me,” she said.
But it all started back when Kardashian West would sneak into her father’s library and peer over his legal files, the ones hidden behind the wall in a secret closet. And considering her high-profile lifestyle, it’s safe to assume that her efforts may one day get as much attention as Kardashian’s did when he took part in the O.J. Simpson Trial, the Trial of the Century.