But most narratives exclude the trial’s influence on those who paid the highest price — the Simpson and Brown children. How did it affect them? Do they think their father did it? Here’s a look back at the tragic story of the Simpson-Browns and how it ultimately influenced the kids.
Nicole and “The Juice” First Meet
Nicole Brown was born in West Germany but grew up in Los Angeles. She went to Dana Hills High School. She was not your average high school girl and was very mature for her age. She and O.J. first met at a Hollywood club. Nicole had just turned 18, and O.J., who was 29 then, was nearing the end of his football career.
He had been acting in films and shows for well over a decade. At this point, O.J. had been married to Marguerite Whitley for ten years, and they had three kids: Arnelle, Jason, and a newborn daughter Aaren.
Nicole and O.J. Begin Dating
Sparks flew, and things moved quickly after that first meeting. Nicole and O.J. began dating immediately. She had enrolled at Saddleback College but dropped out of school. Her reasons? O.J. "required that she be with him,” especially when he had to travel for work.
In hindsight, that should have been a big red flag. But a starry-eyed Nicole had fallen hard, willing to do anything for her famous beau. O.J. was equally smitten and already incredibly possessive of his girlfriend.
A Marriage Falls Apart
What about O.J.’s marriage to Marguerite at the time? It was seemingly on the rocks since he and Nicole had begun dating as early as 1977. He and Marguerite divorced only in 1979. That same year, they lost their daughter Aaren in a drowning accident.
The 23-month-old child spent a few days on life support but tragically did not make it. Not the best way to end a marriage and start a new relationship, but life was about to get even tenser.
O.J. and Nicole Get Married
By all accounts, Nicole and O.J. were deeply in love. The couple had an intense relationship, which was also passionate and volatile. On February 2, 1985, Nicole and O.J. married in a backyard ceremony on O.J.’s Rockingham estate.
Later that year, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He thanked his then-pregnant wife for lifting him toward the end of his football career. What could have been the most difficult time for an athlete turned out to be the best years of his life.
Happily Never After
Over the years, friends of the couple remembered them as warm and fun-loving. But everyone they were close to was aware of how explosive the relationship was. The Simpsons often organized Fourth of July parties or Easter dinners. Kids, parents, grandparents – everyone had a blast. Yet, there was much more to it than meets the eye.
O.J.’s friends were Nicole’s friends, and he kept everyone close. Nicole never had an independent circle of friends with whom she could confide. This probably explains why she never opened up about what went on behind closed doors.
No One Truly Knew Nicole
O.J.'s life and world became hers. She was never free to be herself. She had neither a career nor friends of her own. Sources close to the couple said Nicole would abruptly cancel plans if he needed her. Sometimes, she would just not show. Whenever this happened, O.J. claimed she was in bed with menstrual cramps.
During one such incident in 1988, Nicole turned up to meet friends in a new Ferrari. She reportedly said it was her husband’s way of saying sorry. It confirmed what many already suspected — an explosive marriage that appeared blissfully happy on the surface.
An Emotional and Physical Toll
O.J. often used money to keep Nicole under his thumb. He either threatened to withhold cash or used it to apologize to his wife after one of their intense fights. The relationship only grew deeply troubled as time passed.
Police records show that Nicole made at least eight calls to 911 regarding O.J.’s treatment of her. Things came to a head during a New Year’s Eve party in 1989 when Nicole called 911 after suffering a black eye, a split lip, and several bruises.
The 911 Call
On January 1, 1989, at 3:58 AM, 911 operators received a frantic call from Nicole Brown. At first, the operator could only hear screams. When cops arrived at the Simpsons’ Rockingham residence, a hysterical Nicole emerged from hiding in the bushes and reportedly yelled that she thinks O.J. is going to hurt her.
The police report stated that Nicole had some bruises. This incident does not look good for O.J. if you ask us.
O.J. Denies Everything
O.J. categorically denied hitting his wife. He told officers that they had a drunken fight after the party and he had “just” pushed her out of bed. He was supposed to go with the cops to the station but promptly disappeared in his Bentley instead.
The next day, Nicole told authorities she didn’t want to press charges. However, her signed police report from the night before had already made its way to the City Attorney’s Office. He had already filed domestic violence charges against O.J.
O.J. Is Not Sorry
O.J. was charged with spousal abuse. He pleaded no contest to charges and was released with a fine and mandated community service. The athlete was unrepentant, however. Weeks after his conviction, he appeared in an ESPN interview and dismissed the seriousness of the incident.
He told the ESPN broadcaster that it “wasn’t that big of a fight,” emphasizing that they were both guilty and no one was hurt.
Nicole Files for Divorce
Nicole and O.J.’s marriage grew increasingly toxic. Friends would later say that Nicole fought back when she could. She would find out he was cheating, get angry, and confront him. Nicole finally filed for divorce three years later. The legal proceedings revealed how much she had become dependent on O.J.
Nicole never completed junior college since he insisted she will be with him. She had never had a career. Her only work experience was waitressing for two months, and before that, as a sales clerk in a boutique where she did not make a single sale.
The Divorce Is Final
Nicole and O.J. signed divorce papers on October 15, 1992. O.J. was worth millions at the time and agreed to pay Nicole $433,750 and $10,000 a month in child support.
They would have joint custody of Sydney and Justin, but the kids would be with Nicole 90 percent of the time. The court stated that both parties had the right to live apart without interference or fear of harassment.
Nicole Starts Over
After the divorce, Nicole moved the kids to a rental home. The house was $5000 a month. Nicole later rented out the guest house to her friend, Kato Kaelin, whom she had met in Aspen. Kato would even babysit Justin and Sydney sometimes.
By all accounts, Nicole enjoyed having her space and being a full-time mom. She could finally reconnect with her old girlfriends, whom she met for nights out. She also went on trips and invited friends to her home for dinner. Her friends said she became her own person, even though it meant starting from scratch.
Attempts at Reconciliation
A year into the divorce, Nicole and O.J. appeared keen to reconcile, which had its fair share of drama. The pair blew hot and cold, sometimes determined to make things work and other times, exploding in rage. During this period, O.J. lost his temper again when he discovered a picture of an old boyfriend in Nicole’s photo album.
To add insult to injury, an article in the National Enquirer wrote about an allegedly apologetic O.J. and his attempts to win back his ex-wife. The piece claimed that Nicole divorced O.J. since he was a serial cheater, and she was terrified he would get HIV.
Nicole Moves Into a New Condo
Nicole purchased a condo at 875 South Bundy Drive in Brentwood and moved there with the kids in January 1994. She planned to rent a room to Kaelin again, but O.J. had other plans. He offered Kaelin a room in his guest house rent-free.
O.J. was very much involved in his ex's life, deeming it inappropriate for another man to live inside her house, especially when the exes were supposedly working out their relationship.
Things Only Get Worse
By May 1994, Nicole wanted to move on for good despite having tried to make it work for a while. She even returned the expensive diamond, ruby, and sapphire bracelet that O.J. gifted her for her 35th birthday on May 19.
She was done this time and meant it, and he knew it. Her ex-husband responded the only way he knew how — with threats and intimidation. For instance, he told her to stop using his Rockingham address on her tax forms, or he would call the IRS on her.
Events Leading Up to That Fateful Night
On June 12, 1994, Nicole spent the day with her family. She made breakfast for the kids, after which they went shopping. Nicole met O.J., her parents, and other family members in the afternoon to watch Sydney’s dance recital. The Browns celebrated by going out to dinner at Mezzaluna restaurant. O.J. was not invited.
Nicole’s mom forgot her glasses, and Ronald Goldman, a waiter who worked at the restaurant, volunteered to drop them off later at the house.
Nicole and Ronald Goldman Are Killed
Later that night, Nicole’s neighbor spotted a big Akita in an alley – barking and alone. The dog had an expensive collar on and blood on its paws. Another neighbor volunteered to keep the dog overnight, but the animal was too restless, leading them back home to Nicole’s house.
That’s when the neighbor saw a woman’s body lying outside. Nicole and Ronald Goldman were left there while the two children were asleep upstairs.
Where Was O.J. Simpson?
The next morning, police called O.J. at the O’Hare Plaza Hotel in Chicago where he was attending a convention. On learning about the deaths, O.J. reportedly did not ask how or who did it. He boarded a flight to Los Angeles and arrived around noon to find a full-blown investigation underway.
O.J. had a deep gash in his hand. When cops questioned him about it, he said he had smashed a glass when the call about his ex-wife came, badly cutting his hand.
A Surreal Escape Attempt
The cops almost immediately believed O.J. was responsible for the murders. He was supposed to turn himself in the next day. And the rest, as we know, is history. In a bizarre move, the football star took off in his white Ford Bronco with his childhood friend, Al Cowlings, behind the wheel.
Millions of people watched the low-speed chase unravel on TV. Over 50 miles and many freeways later, the car returned to Rockingham, where O.J. was arrested and charged with the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Nicole’s funeral was on June 16.
Before taking off on the infamous chase, O.J. left behind a letter addressed “to whom it may concern.” The contents had all the makings of a man intending on harming himself. That same day, his close friend, Robert Kardashian, read the letter during a press conference.
It read, "Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O. J. and not this lost person. Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours. Peace and love, O. J." He also wrote that he had nothing to do with what happened to Nicole and Ron.
The Trial of the Century Begins
On July 22, 1994, formal arraignment proceedings commenced, where O.J. pleaded “absolutely, 100 percent, not guilty.” With Lance Ito as the presiding judge, the “trial of the century” began on January 24, 1995. The prosecution emphasized O.J.’s repetitive problematic patterns, stating that domestic violence had occurred before and after the divorce.
On the other side of the bench were O.J.’s lawyers, famously called the “Dream Team” — comprising F. Lee Bailey, Shawn Chapman Holley, Robert Blasier, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, and later Johnnie Cochran. Their defense strategy would soon divide the country.
A National Fascination
The opening day of the trial was nothing short of sensational. Reporters, camera persons, and crowds descended outside the courtroom. The weather was fittingly cloudy with drizzling rain. The O.J. case was one of the first ones ever televised to the public. Everyone could tune in to see what happened and who said what.
Some called it “the Super Bowl of murder trials.” Others considered it a novel to come to life. In his opening remarks, Judge Ito said that he expected to see some “fabulous lawyering skills” during the trial.
The defense lawyers argued that the LAPD had mishandled evidence, abusing their authority in order to target a successful black man. O.J.’s attorneys cited the example of Mark Fuhrman, a detective who allegedly found a bloodied leather glove at Nicole’s home. The detective was known to have a prejudice against black people.
When O.J. attempted to wear the glove in the courtroom, it appeared too small for his hand. Apart from the leather glove, the defense suggested other evidence had been tampered with or planted to frame O.J. Over 150 witnesses testified during the eight-month trial. O.J. did not take the stand.
Arnelle and Eunice Simpson’s Testimonies
Simpson's daughter Arnelle, was the first defense witness. She took the stand on July 10, 1995. O.J.’s sister and his mother, Eunice Simpson, testified soon after.
By the time the defense’s witnesses were done, courtroom observers noted that jury members seemed more sympathetic to the Simpson family than the families of the victims. The “Dream Team” proceeded to undermine the prosecution by questioning timelines and the integrity of the physical evidence.
Debates Continue, Race Takes Center Stage
Major cable TV networks spent hours debating the case and inviting public opinion about the proceedings. Over months, it was evident the defense had managed to influence public perception. Opinions and deliberations about the O.J. Simpson case were predominantly on racial lines. Many African-Americans believed he was innocent, while most White Americans thought him guilty.
People emphasized the excesses of a historically prejudiced police force and justice system. The sensational O.J. Simpson trial gripped the American public, with millions glued to their TV screens. The figures involved in the case became overnight celebrities.
Miscalculations by the Defense
The “Dream Team” put up an incredible defense, but not without some lapses in judgment. Part of the strategy was to convince jurors O.J. was physically incapable of committing a crime due to arthritis.
The prosecution produced a video shortly after which showed O.J. doing some pretty intense workouts. The video proved doubly embarrassing as he exercised while punching his arms, suggesting he might try the workout “with the wife.”
A Field Trip
The O.J. trial eventually traveled outside the courtroom quite literally. The jury, attorneys for both sides, the judge, the defendant, and reporters went on a field trip to the Bundy crime scene. Why the field trip? It was meant to provide the jury with a better understanding of the location of the bodies, evidence found, and people’s movements that night.
The group also went to O.J.’s home – a visit that defense attorneys allegedly leveraged to shine a good light on their client.
The Jury Acquits O.J. Simpson
The jury began deliberating on October 2, 1995, and it took them less than four hours to reach a verdict. On October 3, 1995, the jury found O.J. not guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. The unthinkable had happened, and he was acquitted.
The victims' families were in disbelief. The public's opinion continued to center around racial lines hours after the verdict. Many African-Americans saw the verdict as a victory against a racist legal system. For other Americans, it seemed the courts had allowed a violent criminal to walk free.
Civil Proceedings Against O.J. Begin
O.J. had emerged relatively unscathed from the criminal case. Although he was found not guilty of murder charges, the victim’s families sued him for wrongful death. Civil trial proceedings began in October 1996, and just four months after, a jury found him guilty of the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman.
The court ordered O.J. to pay the victim’s families $33.5 million in damages. While not the kind of justice they had envisioned, the verdict gave the Browns and Goldmans a semblance of closure.
The Kids Are Not Alright
Arnelle Simpson was born in December 1968 to O.J. Simpson and his first wife, Marguerite L. Whitley. The couple had two other children (Jason and Aaren) but lost their second daughter to a tragic drowning incident when she was just a baby.
Arnelle and her brother were very young when their father went on trial. She became one of the most recognizable Simpson siblings – partly due to being O.J.’s oldest daughter and her unwavering support for him throughout the trial.
Arnelle's Personal Struggles
While vocal about her father’s innocence, the murder trial understandably took a grave emotional toll on Arnelle. The father-daughter relationship grew strained after the courts acquitted him of murder charges. O.J. allegedly accused Arnelle of slacking off and defaulting mortgage payments on his Florida home.
Sources say she struggled with a drinking problem during this period. Father and daughter repeatedly fought about her drinking. It reached a point where O.J. tried to get Arnelle married so she would stop living in his house.
Arnelle Has Stood by O.J. Through Everything
Arnelle has remained a support system for O.J. through the years. She appeared at every court date during the trial, testifying and making emotional appeals on behalf of her father. Arnelle maintained that O.J. was innocent. She was truly convinced her father was remorseful about her stepmother’s death.
When the cops arrested O.J. again for kidnapping and robbery, he put Arnelle in charge of his estate. She was single-handedly responsible for his money while he was serving time in prison.
She Makes an Emotional Plea
History repeated itself in 2017 when Arnelle took the stand on behalf of her father again. O.J. had served 9 of his 33.5-year prison sentence on a charge unrelated to his ex-wife and her boyfriend’s murder. In 2007, he attempted a bizarre armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel.
The stolen items (which he felt were rightfully his) were sports memorabilia and other collectibles that had helped pay his exorbitant legal fees years before. Arnelle spoke from the heart, hoping to convince authorities to set him free. In 2018, four commissioners unanimously granted O.J. parole.
What Does Arnelle Do for a Living?
Arnelle has experienced tremendous loss and tragedy for someone so young. She has shared how the arrests have impacted her ability to chart a stable career path. Despite trying to start fresh, the shadow of her family’s tragic past seems to continue looming over her.
Arnelle previously worked for a rapper named Hash and has also dabbled in fashion. When she’s not producing fashion shows, Arnelle is busy taking care of her father’s estates and NFL pension.
She Was the Brains Behind O.J.’s Book
After O.J. got out of prison for the first time, he began working on his book “If I Did It.” Everyone knew he was writing it but did not understand why. In reality, Arnelle encouraged her father to write and publish the book in 2007 — just before he went to jail again for armed robbery. At the same time, raging debates arose regarding profits from book sales.
Nobody wanted to see O.J. profit from a horrific crime he allegedly committed. Arnelle defended her father in the lawsuit, but the Goldman family ultimately won the case.
O.J.’s second son, Jason, was born in April 1970. If Arnelle was the most recognizable Simpson sibling, Jason was probably the best-known for all the wrong reasons. Years after O.J. was acquitted, Jason emerged as a possible suspect in Nicole and Ronald's murders.
The theory first came about in 2012, when private investigator William Dear published his book, “O.J Is Innocent and I Can Prove It.” It wasn't the first time William investigated a murder using the same method. His efforts have previously solved the murder of a man named Dean Milo, resulting in prison time for Dean’s brother and ten other people.
The Reasoning Behind Jason as a Suspect
How did William arrive at his theory? He outlined exhaustive reasons in his book. Jason had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. He has also been diagnosed with intermittent rage disorder and other mental health issues.
The boy was taking prescription medicine to regulate his temper, which helped sometimes. Yet, Jason repeatedly indulged in self-harming behavior. Cops also arrested him for assaulting a former employer with a knife. Jason being the murderer seemed a plausible theory, but it remained a theory.
William Dear Is Convinced Jason Is the Real Culprit
After a thorough 18-year investigation into the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, William concludes that O.J. was not the murderer. The private investigator met with every potential suspect and conducted interviews. He also established irrefutable timelines, visited the crime scene, and poked holes in several alibis.
The evidence pointed to Jason committing the crime in a fit of rage. William believed O.J. arrived at the scene shortly after, only to discover what Jason had done.
A Father Protecting His Son?
What about the famous speed chase right after the killings? To anyone who watched police cars tailing the white Bronco on TV, it seemed clear that O.J. was guilty. An innocent person would not indulge in such bizarre behavior. William’s take on the chase was different, however.
He believes O.J. knew Jason had killed Nicole and wanted to protect him. At the least, LAPD should have considered Jason a suspect instead of immediately assuming O.J. was responsible.
Jason's Support of His Father
The sensational O.J. Simpson trials gripped the country for a long time, from January 24, 1994, to October 3, 1995. Like his sister, Arnelle, Jason attended several court dates to support his father.
Unlike Arnelle, however, Jason never took the stand to testify on O.J.’s behalf despite believing in his father’s innocence. He chose to keep his feelings private, staying out of sight of the public and media throughout the trial.
Where Is Jason Simpson Now?
Jason continues living a quiet life away from media attention. His name pops up now and then regarding his alleged role in the murders, but not much else. Jason is close to his aunt, Shirley, who cared for him and his siblings during the agonizing trial.
It took Jason a while to find his feet and way in the world after the tragedy. Eventually, he channeled his energies into a fulfilling culinary career. Jason lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he works as a chef at a popular restaurant.
Sydney Brooke Simpson
Sydney Brooke Simpson was born in October 1985 – O.J. and Nicole’s first daughter. She grew up as an adorable child who occasionally made public appearances with her parents.
Sydney was only 9 when her mother’s brutal murder took place, too young to remember or understand everything. The murder trial upended her relatively private life till then. Sydney and her siblings came under intense media scrutiny overnight.
Coping With Her Mother's Death
Among the Simpson siblings, Sydney probably had the most challenging time adjusting to her father’s public trial and losing her mother. Growing up, she was terrified of the press and local attention wherever she went.
Things got so bad that Sydney resorted to using a fake name, Portia, to protect her privacy. She attended the Gulliver Academy and later enrolled in Boston University, where she graduated in 2010 with a degree in sociology.
Finding Her Way Again
Sydney slowly rebuilt her life while coming to terms with her mother’s tragic death. She was determined to blend in with her colleagues and kept to herself at work.
Syndey and her brother managed to dodge invasive media. The siblings managed to keep their lives in Georgia low-key until a journalist tracked them down while chasing a story on the lives of the Brown-Simpson kids. After earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology, Sydney started a business in Florida.
Sydney's Views on O.J.
Since the trial, Sydney has worked hard to retain her privacy. She has never made a public statement to the media about her father. Some sources claim Sydney believes her father is guilty, and she has never been able to look at him the same way. The same sources say she is working on how to forgive O.J. — the only parent she has left.
Family members have stated that they never talk about what happened that night. Sydney’s feelings about it are her own business. She has every right to stay quiet and owes nobody a statement.
Justin Ryan Simpson
Justin, O.J.’s youngest son, was born in August 1988. He and his sister, Sydney, lived with their mother after their parents divorced. Justin was only five on that fateful night in 1994 when his mother and Ron Goldman met thier gruesome ending outside their home.
The siblings were unaware and asleep in their beds. Even though they did not witness the horror, the resulting trauma and media scrutiny have dogged their lives since.
Living With Loss
Justin and Sydney found comfort and care in their maternal aunt, Shirley, and other family members. The Browns did all they could to give the two kids a semblance of a normal childhood. In 2019, Justin’s aunt, Tanya, published a memoir, “Finding Peace Amid the Chaos: My Escape From Depression and Suicide”.
Tanya wrote about how the family rallied around her niece and nephew during and after the trial. Justin, in particular, was too young to comprehend what was happening, so the family ensured they never rehashed anything.
Justin Is a Successful Real Estate Agent
When Justin finished school, he moved to Saint Petersburg, Florida, and enrolled at Florida State University. In 2010, Justin graduated with a bachelor's degree in Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations. Shortly after, he began working with a real estate group called DHM, marking the start of a brilliant and successful career.
According to some sources, Justin’s net worth today is roughly $ 3 million, although these claims remain unverified. He appears to be working for the real estate group to date.
Complicated and Fractured Relationships
In 1998, Nicole’s parents fought O.J. for the custody of his children, Sydney and Justin. However, the kids wrote emotional letters to the justices, asking to remain with their father. O.J. eventually won the custody battle, much to the Brown family’s dismay.
Tanya Brown later wrote about how difficult it was to interact with the man she believed took her sister's life. She put on a face for the children’s sake. Sydney and Justin loved their father, and she chose to respect that.