O.J.: Made In America Episode 5 Recap

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.
The conclusion of Ezra Edelman's ESPN documentary, O.J.: Made In America, deals with the aftermath of O. J. Simpson's acquittal for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

The final episode starts with a montage from Simpson's football career before moving into the events of October 3, 1995, the day of the trial's verdict.

While the trial lasted more than eight months, the jury reached its verdict in less than one day. Sources interviewed in the documentary say many people expected the decision to take weeks. "They did not deliberate. I truly was offended," District Attorney Gil Garcetti says in the episode.

"By the end of that trial, I knew where I was, and it was clear," Yolanda Crawford, one of the jurors, says in the documentary.

Edelman does a tremendous job at showcasing the sharp racial divide in the scene after the verdict was announced. In the episode, Deputy District Attorney Bill Hodgman says that the deputy sheriff who released the jurors overheard people in the surrounding area say the decision was "payback for Rodney King."

Footage in the documentary shows crowds surrounding the courtroom awaiting the verdict, faced by police on horseback. When Simpson was acquitted, the crowd began cheering and screaming, with some people chanting Simpson's name.

"It was all so much bigger than we were," lead prosecution attorney Marcia Clark says in the episode. The archival footage shows Black people celebrating the verdict and white people crying. Crawford says in the documentary that after the verdict, she received hate mail; white friends and neighbors stopped talking to her.

"The majority of the world, or the majority of Americans, think that we're a group of idiots who didn't get it right," Crawford says in the documentary. "I think that the jury was made to be the scapegoat for their faults. It was a mistake to present Fuhrman the way they did. It was a mistake to let Darden get up there and be a part of that case. Had they come correct, had they had the right attorneys up there, putting on the case that they needed to put on, they would've won. It wasn't payback. They messed up."
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Readjusting to life in the largely white Southern California neighborhood of Brentwood wasn't easy for Simpson. O.J.: Made in America shows people displaying signs reading things like "real men don't batter" and signs that called Simpson a murderer. By the documentary's account, the response changed Simpson, even if he didn't directly address it.

In the earlier installments of O.J.: Made in America, we see figures from Simpson's life asserting that he didn't want to be involved with racial politics. The final episode shows Simpson embracing the Black community. There are also archival interviews in which Simpson brushes off the criticisms he received from white residents of Brentwood.

The episode also chronicles the civil suit filed against Simpson for Goldman's and Brown's deaths. Simpson was ordered by the jury of a civil court to pay $25 million to Goldman's and Brown's estates, with $12.5 million in punitive damages to each family. The same jury ordered Simpson to pay $8.5 million to the Goldmans in compensatory damages, making the total $33.5 million.

"In a civil trial, all you have to prove is that they're guilty by a preponderance of the evidence. That means more likely than not," Clark says in the documentary. "51% percent is enough. It's a very low standard of proof. Completely different than a criminal trial."
Still, Simpson didn't have $33.5 million to pay the Brown and Goldman families. He was ordered to turn over his belongings to satisfy the judgment, including golf clubs and his mother's piano. As he fell into debt, Simpson lost more and more of his possessions.

As the years passed, Simpson's former agent, Mike Gilbert, was accused of collecting Simpson's personal items. Gilbert talks about Simpson's financial struggles in the documentary, saying that Simpson asked him to film the former football star at his Rockingham estate as if the clips were paparazzi shots so that they could sell them to the tabloids. Simpson eventually moved to Miami.

In 2007, Simpson was arrested for his involvement in an armed robbery at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He claimed he was trying to get back his own possessions, which had been stolen. Bruce Fromong, a memorabilia dealer, testified that two men who were with Simpson that night were armed, according to CNN. The Las Vegas court convicted Simpson of the robbery and kidnapping charges in 2008.

"This was the first time I had an opportunity to catch the guys red-handed who had been stealing from my family...I wasn't there to hurt anybody," Simpson said in footage from the Nevada court. "I didn't know I was doing anything illegal. I thought I was confronting friends and retrieving my property."

Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison, with a minimum of nine years without parole. "The 33-year sentence reflecting the $33 million in the civil verdict was no coincidence," Carl Douglas, a member of Simpson's defense team, says in the documentary. "And that was the fifth quarter. They got back at O. J. for winning our case."
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