Monday, December 08, 2008
The Butcher of Bundy Finally Goes to Prison. Thoughts on O.J. Simpson From the Husband of a Murder Victim
O.J. Simpson has many labels: football star, actor, Madison Avenue pitchman. But the one moniker that sticks most in the minds of many is murderer. But despite reams of DNA, physical and circumstantial evidence proving that on June 12th, 1994 he savagely butchered and killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, the disgraced former legend was fully acquitted thanks to a lame jury, an inept LAPD, a star-struck judge and a masterful carnival-barker of a lead defense attorney with a magic glove "that would not fit." This tragic tale had no Cinderella ending.
I will never forget that sick feeling of revulsion in the pit of my stomach as the jury foreman announced not guilty. Nor will I ever forget the look of horror and utter disbelief on the faces of the 100 or so others packed in the bar to watch the verdict be delivered as if it was New Year's Eve and we were about to watch the ball drop in Times Square. But this was clearly no celebration. There was stunned silence. Our collective hope that good would prevail over evil, that justice would be served, was shattered in that chilling moment. On October 3, 1995, Simpson walked out of the LA County Courthouse a free man. He was the storied villain who literally got away with murder. And I wanted to puke.
All I could think about was the profound sorrow and grief, and shock, that the Brown and Goldman families must've been experiencing. Or those two little children whose beautiful mother was brutally ripped away from them forever. I felt sadness like I had never felt before, and it made me angry. I hated Simpson. I wished on him the same sort of violent fate that befell his innocent victims. I wanted him to know firsthand the kind of suffering that he dealt to Nicole and Ron. And I was disgusted by a criminal justice system that horribly failed.
For me, the most haunting and lasting images from that whole ghastly saga are those of Fred Goldman, who bravely and tearfully faced the media and the entire country night after night, and how we wept along with him as we shared his pain, anguish and heartbreak over the devastating loss of the handsome, promising son he loved so much. So to have Simpson, the murderous beast, get off scot free was simply unthinkable.
Watching the Goldmans and the Browns live out this horrific nightmare so publicly, I could not imagine what it must've been like to be them. It was all so unfathomable to me. Until the night of November 1, 2006, when I was thrust into my own nightmare when I found my wife, the actor/writer/director Adrienne Shelly, the love of my life, brutally murdered in her Greenwich Village office. And in that split second, as Joan Didion wrote in The Year of Magical Thinking, life as I knew it was over. I no longer had to imagine what it was like to be Fred Goldman. I was Fred Goldman.
I will skip the gory details, which are just a mouse-click away for anyone who's interested. Though Adrienne's killer, Diego Pilco, was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and received a sentence of just 25 years without parole--not the murder conviction and 25-to-life we hoped for--justice was served on some level. While there's no such thing as true closure, and one can never truly ever forget such tragedy, my family and I could at least begin to move on with our lives knowing that our soulless, murderous beast would be locked away in prison, in solitary, for a very long time. The Goldmans and the Browns were not afforded this peace of mind. That is until December 5th, 2008.
For the past thirteen years we've had to endure a cocky, arrogant, defiant and delusional O.J. Simpson who thumbed his nose at the law and acted with impunity as his criminal streak continued with various assaults and episodes of road rage. In between, we were treated to his uber-bizarre interviews, books and overall rantings. Though a civil jury in 1997 awarded the families $33.5 million, Simpson had cleverly, and legally, sheltered much of his assets and retirement income and the Goldmans and Browns got virtually nothing. In those painful years and in those since, Simpson got to play a whole lotta golf, while the families of his victims mourned. There truly was no justice.
But then Simpson's outrageous behavior took a very fateful turn on September 13, 2007 when he and a posse of thugs stormed a Las Vegas hotel room and robbed two memorabilia dealers at gunpoint. The Juice claimed he was merely retrieving his stolen property. He was charged with 12 felonies including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, and was convicted October 3rd on all counts. For the first time in his life, Simpson was soon going to face the music.
Last Friday, Judge Jackie Glass threw the proverbial book at this monster, serving up a sentence of 9 to 33 years. Simpson will be at least 70 when and if he's released on parole, and could very well spend the remaining years of his violent, wretched life incarcerated, exactly where he should've been all along.
And once again in an O.J. courtroom the tears flowed, but this time they were Simpson's. In what has become all too familiar these past thirteen years, this savage killer and pathological liar offered up pathetic, delusional, I-am-the-real-victim-here excuses and shamelessly begged for leniency:
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to steal anything from anybody. And I didn't know I was doing anything illegal. I thought I was confronting friends and retrieving my property. So I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of it."
Sadly, I know the heartache of losing a loved one at the brutal hands of a violent animal. I get to live each day with a young child who was tragically robbed of her loving mother. And I know what it's like to witness the inequitable trade of a beautiful soul's precious life for a relatively small prison sentence. But though it's certainly no consolation, as it will never bring back Nicole and Ron, the Goldmans and the Browns can at least breathe and sleep a little easier now that justice has finally, on some level, been served for them as well. The Butcher of Bundy will likely and hopefully die in jail a broken man. Payback for 1995, some say? Who cares. A cold-blooded murderer is off the streets and behind bars, where he belongs, and that's all that matters.
On another subject, we could use your help at the Adrienne Shelly Foundation. Our mission is to support women filmmakers. Click here to make a contribution. To learn more about us and to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit our website. Every contribution helps preserve Adrienne's legacy, allows us to help others, and creates something positive out of the tragic loss two years ago of an incredibly loving and talented woman.