Did they fit or not?
More than a quarter-century later, that is still the big question regarding one of the biggest moments of what still is dubbed “the trial of the century.”
Thursday marks the 28th anniversary of one of the most recognizable stages of the O.J. Simpson trial, when Simpson was asked to try on a pair of black gloves, one of which was recovered from the scene after Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman were found dead.
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The other glove was found behind Simpson’s guest house.
Prosecutors felt the gloves were among the biggest pieces of evidence against Simpson because DNA tests showed blood on the glove found on Simpson’s property appeared to contain genetic markers of Simpson, Brown and Goldman.
Defense attorneys argued that the glove was planted there by Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman because he was a racist police officer who tried to frame Simpson.
In a bold move, prosecutor Christopher Darden, a black man who was deemed a traitor by some for his role in trying to convict Simpson, insisted that Simpson try on the gloves during a session on June 15, 1995, even over the objection of lead prosecutor Marcia Clark.
Simpson then tried the gloves on, appearing to struggle -- and having exasperated expressions throughout the process in front of Darden and the jury.
It became one of the most visual moments of the entire trial, and defense attorney Johnnie Cochran famously voiced “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” in his closing statements to the jury.
Simpson eventually was acquitted of all charges by the jury.
Darden quipped in a 2016 appearance on “The View” that Simpson was, “A better actor than I thought he was.”
Critics of the move slammed it, saying it was a mistake to allow a defendant to control such a demonstration. It was even famously spoofed in an episode of “Seinfeld” after the trial.
In the years since, there have been other theories given as to why the gloves didn’t appear to fit Simpson.
- At the time, prosecutors didn’t want Simpson to try on the gloves because they said they shrunk from being soaked in blood and frozen and unfrozen multiple times.
- Simpson wore rubber gloves underneath, which is another theory prosecutors have about why the black gloves didn’t fit.
- Darden, during a 2012 panel discussion at Pace Law School in New York City, said Cochran tampered with the glove, tearing the lining in them.
- In an interview for the ESPN documentary on the trial, called “O.J.: Made in America,” Simpson’s former agent, Mike Gilbert, said Simpson couldn’t get the gloves on because he stopped taking arthritis medicine two weeks prior and his hands were swollen as a result.
It’s debatable whether the verdict would have been different if Simpson had not been asked by Darden to try on the gloves.
But make no mistake, what happened on June 15, 1995 still is and will likely forever be one of the biggest moments in a courtroom in U.S. trial history.