Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
While the trial of O.J. Simpson was often reduced to a circus-like spectacle, the verdict highlighted sharp racial divisions in the United States. Two excerpts from The Post of Oct. 4, 1995:
In an emphatic conclusion to a case that transfixed the nation, a jury of 10 women and two men today acquitted O.J. Simpson of murder.
As Americans gathered around television sets across the country, Court Clerk Deirdre Robertson read the verdict to a hushed and expectant courtroom at 10:07 a.m. Pacific time. When Robertson uttered the phrase "Not guilty," loud gasps echoed through the packed room.
As Simpson stood facing the jury, his body seemed to sag with relief. A light, enigmatic smile crossed his face as he silently mouthed the words "Thank you" to the nine blacks, two whites and one Hispanic on the jury. He then clasped his hands together and was embraced by his attorneys.
For the most part the jurors offered no explanation for their verdicts, which they reached after less than four hours of deliberation. But the one juror who spoke publicly at any length about the case, Lionel Cryer, 44, a telephone company marketing representative, said there were too many holes in the prosecution's case. "It was garbage in, garbage out," Cryer said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Less than an hour into deliberations, he said, it was clear that most jurors favored acquittal.
Simpson did not appear publicly. But in a statement read by his son Jason, he declared his "incredible nightmare" was over and said he is now determined to search for the real "killer or killers" of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald L. Goldman.
As the most-watched murder trial in U.S. history reached its climax yesterday, the nation's capital stood frozen, riveted to TV sets as a host of painful issues -- class, race, homicide, police conduct -- were reduced to two short words in the O.J. Simpson case:
Just that quickly, it was over. And after a while -- after unleashing their joy or swallowing their nausea -- Washington area residents, through the day and long into the night, mulled and argued the implications.
"The issue is, for once in a lifetime, a black man was able to afford adequate representation," said Tene McCoy, 23, a Howard University law student. "We can now do what white people have been doing all the time."
Mike Berning, a 60-year-old consultant in the District, declared: "What all of this does show is you can hire justice in this country. Justice can be manipulated. It's all about money."
Each echoed thousands of others after yesterday's verdicts were read.