It’s Tuesday! Did you know…
* 1995 O.J. Simpson acquitted.
At the end of a sensational trial, former football star O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the brutal 1994 double murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. In the epic 252-day trial, Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers employed creative and controversial methods to convince jurors that Simpson’s guilt had not been proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” thus surmounting what the prosecution called a “mountain of evidence” implicating him as the murderer.
Orenthal James Simpson–a Heisman Trophy winner, star running back with the Buffalo Bills, and popular television personality–married Nicole Brown in 1985. He reportedly regularly abused his wife and in 1989 pleaded no contest to a charge of spousal battery. In 1992, she left him and filed for divorce. On the night of June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were stabbed and slashed to death in the front yard of Mrs. Simpson’s condominium in Brentwood, Los Angeles. By June 17, police had gathered enough evidence to charge O.J. Simpson with the murders.
Simpson had no alibi for the time frame of the murders. Some 40 minutes after the murders were committed, a limousine driver sent to take Simpson to the airport saw a man in dark clothing hurrying up the drive of his Rockingham estate. A few minutes later, Simpson spoke to the driver through the gate phone and let him in. During the previous 25 minutes, the driver had repeatedly called the house and received no answer.
A single leather glove found outside Simpson’s home matched a glove found at the crime scene. In preliminary DNA tests, blood found on the glove was shown to have come from Simpson and the two victims. After his arrest, further DNA tests would confirm this finding. Simpson had a wound on his hand, and his blood was a DNA match to drops found at the Brentwood crime scene. Nicole Brown Simpson’s blood was discovered on a pair of socks found at the Rockingham estate. Simpson had recently purchased a “Stiletto” knife of the type the coroner believed was used by the killer. Shoe prints in the blood at Brentwood matched Simpson’s shoe size and later were shown to match a type of shoe he had owned. Neither the knife nor shoes were found by police.
On June 17, a warrant was put out for Simpson’s arrest, but he refused to surrender. Just before 7 p.m., police located him in a white Ford Bronco being driven by his friend, former teammate Al Cowlings. Cowlings refused to pull over and told police over his cellular phone that Simpson was suicidal and had a gun to his head. Police agreed not to stop the vehicle by force, and a low-speed chase ensued. Los Angeles news helicopters learned of the event unfolding on their freeways, and live television coverage began. As millions watched, the Bronco was escorted across Los Angeles by a phalanx of police cars. Just before 8 p.m., the dramatic journey ended when Cowlings pulled into the Rockingham estate. After an hour of tense negotiation, Simpson emerged from the vehicle and surrendered. In the vehicle was found a travel bag containing, among other things, Simpson’s passport, a disguise kit consisting of a fake mustache and beard, and a revolver. Three days later, Simpson appeared before a judge and pleaded not guilty.
Simpson’s subsequent criminal trial was a sensational media event of unprecedented proportions. It was the longest trial ever held in California, and courtroom television cameras captured the carnival-like atmosphere of the proceedings. The prosecution’s mountain of evidence was systemically called into doubt by Simpson’s team of expensive attorneys, who made the dramatic case that their client was framed by unscrupulous and racist police officers. Citing the questionable character of detective Mark Fuhrman and alleged blunders in the police investigation, defense lawyers painted Simpson as yet another African American victim of the white judicial system. The jurors’ reasonable doubt grew when the defense spent weeks attacking the damning DNA evidence, arguing in overly technical terms that delays and other anomalies in the gathering of evidence called the findings into question. Critics of the trial accused Judge Lance Ito of losing control of his courtroom.
In polls, a majority of African Americans believed Simpson to be innocent of the crime, while white America was confident of his guilt. However, the jury–made up of nine African Americans, two whites, and one Hispanic–was not so divided; they took just four hours of deliberation to reach the verdict of not guilty on both murder charges. On October 3, 1995, an estimated 140 million Americans listened in on radio or watched on television as the verdict was delivered.
In February 1997, Simpson was found liable for several charges related to the murders in a civil trial and was forced to award $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the victims’ families. However, with few assets remaining after his long and costly legal battle, he has avoided paying the damages.
In 2007, Simpson ran into legal problems once again when he was arrested for breaking into a Las Vegas hotel room and taking sports memorabilia, which he claimed had been stolen from him, at gunpoint. On October 3, 2008, he was found guilty of 12 charges related to the incident, including armed robbery and kidnapping, and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
* 1990 East and West Germany reunite after 45 years.
Less than one year after the destruction of the Berlin Wall, East and West Germany come together on what is known as “Unity Day.” Since 1945, when Soviet forces occupied eastern Germany, and the United States and other Allied forces occupied the western half of the nation at the close of World War II, divided Germany had come to serve as one of the most enduring symbols of the Cold War. Some of the most dramatic episodes of the Cold War took place there. The Berlin Blockade (June 1948–May 1949), during which the Soviet Union blocked all ground travel into West Berlin, and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 was perhaps the most famous. With the gradual waning of Soviet power in the late 1980s, the Communist Party in East Germany began to lose its grip on power. Tens of thousands of East Germans began to flee the nation, and by late 1989 the Berlin Wall started to come down. Shortly thereafter, talks between East and West German officials, joined by officials from the United States, Great Britain, France, and the USSR, began to explore the possibility of reunification. Two months following reunification, all-German elections took place and Helmut Kohl became the first chancellor of the reunified Germany. Although this action came more than a year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, for many observers the reunification of Germany effectively marked the end of the Cold War.
* 1932 Iraq wins independence.
With the admission of Iraq into the League of Nations, Britain terminates its mandate over the Arab nation, making Iraq independent after 17 years of British rule and centuries of Ottoman rule.
Britain seized Iraq from Ottoman Turkey during World War I and was granted a mandate by the League of Nations to govern the nation in 1920. A Hashemite monarchy was organized under British protection in 1921, and on October 3, 1932, the kingdom of Iraq was granted independence. The Iraqi government maintained close economic and military ties with Britain, leading to several anti-British revolts. A pro-Axis revolt in 1941 led to a British military intervention, and the Iraqi government agreed to support the Allied war effort. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown, and for the next two decades, Iraq was ruled by a series of military and civilian governments. In 1979, General Saddam Hussein became Iraqi dictator; he held onto power with an iron fist, until disappearing in the face of an American-led coalition’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.
* 1952 Britain successfully tests A-bomb.
Britain successfully tests its first atomic bomb at the Monte Bello Islands, off the northwest coast of Australia.
During World War II, 50 British scientists and engineers worked on the successful U.S. atomic bomb program at Los Alamos, New Mexico. After the war, many of these scientists were enlisted into the secret effort to build an atomic bomb for Britain. Work on the British A-bomb officially began in 1947, and Los Alamos veteran William Penney served as the program head. In February 1952, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill publicly announced the plans to test a British nuclear weapon, and on October 3 a 25-kiloton device–similar to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan–was successfully detonated in the hull of the frigate HMS Plym anchored off the Monte Bello Islands. The test made Britain the world’s third atomic power after the United States and the Soviet Union.
* 1895 The Red Badge of Courage is published.
On this day, The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane, is published in book form. The story of a young man’s experience of battle was the first American novel to portray the Civil War from the ordinary soldier’s point of view. The tale originally appeared as a serial published by a newspaper syndicate.
Crane, the youngest of 14 children, was born in 1871 and grew up in New York and New Jersey. His father died when Crane was 9, and the family settled in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He attended Syracuse University, where he played baseball for a year, but then left. He became a journalist in New York, taking short stints for various newspapers and living in near-poverty.
Immersed in the hand-to-mouth life of lower-class New York, Crane closely observed the characters around him, and in 1893, at age 23, he published Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, about a poor girl’s decline into prostitution and suicide. Finding a publisher was difficult given the book’s scandalous content, so Crane ultimately published it himself. The book was a critical success but failed to sell well. He turned his attention to more popular topics and began writing The Red Badge of Courage, which made him into an international celebrity at age 24.
The newspaper syndicate that serialized the novel sent him on assignment to cover the West and Mexico. In 1897, he went to Cuba to write about the insurrection against Spain. On the way there, he stayed at a dingy hotel where he met Cora Howard Taylor, who became his lifelong companion. In 1897, his boat to Cuba sank, and he barely survived. His short story “The Open Boat” is based on his experiences in a lifeboat with the captain and the cook. Crane later covered the war between Greece and Turkey, and finally settled in England, where he made friends with Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, and Henry James.
Crane contracted tuberculosis in his late 20s. Cora Howard Taylor nursed him while he wrote furiously in an attempt to pay off his debts. He exhausted himself and exacerbated his condition. He died in June 1900, at the age of 28.
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/