In the third instalment of Ezra Edelman's O.J.: Made in America, we finally see inside the courtroom where O.J. Simpson was on trial for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.
The episode chronicles the events of June 12, 1994, providing a timeline of the day Brown and Goldman were killed. As the documentary details, Brown and Simpson both attended their daughter's dance recital that day at 5:00 p.m. Afterward, Brown and her family went to a Brentwood restaurant called Mezzaluna, around 6:30 p.m.
Around 9:36 p.m., O.J. Simpson and Kato Kaelin, Simpson's house guest, returned to Simpson's Rockingham estate from a trip to McDonald's, the episode notes. At 10:15 p.m., neighbours apparently heard Brown's dog bark, and at 11:15 p.m., Simpson was picked up by a limo and taken to LAX. He flew to Chicago for a Hertz golf event at 11:45 p.m. that night.
One detail that stands out in the episode involves the injury to Simpson's finger. In the original police questioning, Simpson tells detectives he hurt his hand on a glass in Chicago. But Ron Shipp, a former LAPD officer and friend of Simpson, says in an interview in the episode that Simpson's story about his finger changed. When Shipp originally asked Simpson what had happened, he told him the same story about the glass in Chicago.
But Shipp says that later, he told someone else that he "was chipping golf balls" when the injury took place, and that Simpson told a third person that he injured himself while "getting the cellphone out of the Bronco." Shipp also says in the documentary that Simpson told him he'd had dreams of killing Brown.
The episode also includes footage from the legendary Bronco chase, as well as archival footage of Robert Kardashian reading the letter Simpson wrote earlier that day. "I have nothing to do with Nicole's murder," Simpson wrote. "Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person."
The letter came after Simpson's lawyer, Robert Shapiro, failed to surrender Simpson to the LAPD. The documentary also includes interviews with Mike Albanese, the SWAT commander who waited at Simpson's Rockingham estate for Al Cowlings and Simpson to return in the Bronco. "I think he wanted to surrender when it was dark, so that he wouldn't be seen," Albanese says in the documentary.
The series' third instalment features an impressive number of interviews with key figures from the case. Those who followed the FX series The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story will recognise L.A. County prosecutor Marcia Clark, deputy district attorney Bill Hodgman, and former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman, who all participated in interviews for the documentary. The episode also includes recordings from inside the courtroom.
Simpson's defense lawyers discovered that Fuhrman had reportedly used a racial slur against black people in the past. They suggested that the glove discovered at Simpson's home should be considered with scrutiny, as it may have been planted by Fuhrman, the detective who discovered it, since he had used the racial slur in the past.
In a courtroom scene shown in the episode, Darden argued that the jury, which included nine black jurors, wouldn't be able to remain objective if the racial slur was used during the trial. (The jury was not present during Darden's statement.)
"It'll blind the jury. It'll blind them to the truth," Darden says in the recording. "All they have to do is mention the word, say to Mark Fuhrman, 'Hey, did you ever use that [racial slur]?' And he will say, 'Yeah,' and it's over. He must have planted the glove."
In the clip, Cochran is quick to fire back at Darden's statements. "His remarks are demeaning to African-Americans as a group," Cochran says in the recording. "African-Americans live with offensive words, offensive looks, offensive treatment every day of their lives. To say they can't be fair is absolutely outrageous. I am ashamed that Mr. Darden would allow himself to become an apologist for this man."
"They found a flaw in me, and then they made up a nexus, a connection to the flaw to the case," Fuhrman says in the documentary. "I mean, I had a bad couple years. But I came out better, I came out of it. It is what it is."
A large portion of the episode focuses on the jurors — their selection as well as the evidence they're presented with. It's fitting, given the fact that the documentary as a whole is about "why a group of jurors came to the decision that they did," according to an interview Edelman did with ESPN.