On Thursday, O.J. Simpson was granted parole after being sentenced to jail for his role in a 2007 armed robbery. Now, just a few days later, The Jury Speaks, the first installment of a new four-night special on Oxygen is taking a deep dive into Simpson’s history-making 1995 trial — by interviewing the jurors who declared him not guilty in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
The Simpson trial has been scrutinized and analyzed for more than two decades, most recently with the Oscar-winning documentary series O.J.: Made in America and the FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. (The day Simpson was granted parole, A&E announced yet another two-hour documentary special.) Oxygen’s installment seems a bit slight in comparison, and if you’ve binged either series, The Jury Speaks won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. Still, where the special succeeds is in its focus on the jury: The Simpson episode, which premiered Saturday night, looks at the case through the eyes of the jury, with extensive one-on-one interviews with jurors Lionel Cryer, Yolanda Crawford, David Aldana, and Jeanette Harris. (Harris was ultimately dismissed before the verdict.)
Bolstered by interviews with prosecutor Chris Darden and defense attorney Carl E. Douglas, The Jury Speaks examines the Simpson case in detail through the eyes of the jury. Below, we recap the jury’s thoughts on some of the most explosive and memorable moments from the trial.
Of course, no examination of the Simpson trial would be complete without a look at one of the most notorious moments in criminal history: the glove. “The glove demonstration was the most dramatic moment that I have ever experienced because no one really knew what was going to happen,” Douglas said.
And when Simpson tried on the glove in front of the jury, Crawford says she was amazed — not by the fact that it didn’t fit, but by the fact that the prosecution took the bait.
“It might be the way he manipulated his hands, I don’t know,” Crawford said. “But I looked at Christopher Darden, and I was like, I can’t believe you fell for it. And at that point, I’m like, what can you do? It didn’t appear to fit.”
“It was one of many, many mistakes,” Darden admits.
One of the biggest blows to the prosecution’s case came when LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman was revealed to have used the N-word on tape, after formerly declaring in court that he had not used the word in the past 10 years. Not only did the revelation raise questions of racial discrimination, but it allowed the defense to suggest that Fuhrman was both a liar and a racist who may have planted evidence to help convict Simpson.
“I think that Mark Fuhrman was the demise of the prosecution’s case,” Harris recalled. “You’re looking at his demeanor, and he’s not a good guy. You just see it.”
“You’d have been better off not putting him up there at all,” Cryer added.
When it was finally time to deliver a verdict, the jury had been sequestered for 265 days — longer than any other previous jury in American history. The tense atmosphere and the separation from family took an emotional toll on many of the jurors. Things even got violent: Harris recounted how she saw one juror slap another in the head.
“You would have a group of the youngest jurors together, or there may be a table where there are all black jurors, and then there’s a table where they’re all white jurors,” Crawford recalled. “Some of the jurors resented me for sitting with my group, which were people closer to my age. There would be snide remarks, loud enough for me to hear them.”
In the end, several of the jurors meet to discuss the verdict they handed down. While Cryer says that in retrospect, he would render a guilty verdict, the others maintain that based on the evidence they were presented, there was enough reasonable doubt that they could not convict Simpson.
“The fact that I might release a person that was guilty, it bothered me,” Crawford said. “But the doubt was so plain, you couldn’t deny it. There was no other verdict that we could deliver.”
The Jury Speaks continues Sunday with the Michael Jackson trial, airing at 9 p.m. ET on Oxygen.