Though tempered for about a decade, O.J. Simpson hysteria surfaced on Thursday for the live coverage of his parole hearing. More than 240 credentialed media members converged on the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada to capture the proceedings, which ultimately will spring the 70-year-old Simpson from prison sometime later this year.
As networks scrambled to fill several hours of coverage, O.J. experts and friends were omnipresent, offering opinions and revisiting the double murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman in 1994 that led to the unceasing O.J. phenomena.
On ABC News, anchor George Stephanopoulos interviewed Dr. Henry Johnson, a friend of Simpson who visited the armed robbery convict several times in prison. The exchange got testy at one point, when Johnson professed the innocence of Simpson in the double murder case.
Johnson: “I believe that O.J. will rise once again and people will recognize that an innocent man has been persecuted for the last 25 years.”
Stephanopoulos: “But he was found liable for the deaths [in the civil case] by a jury of 12 people, a jury of his peers.”
Johnson: “If Ron and Nicole were here, they would tell you that you got the wrong guy.”
Stephanopoulos: “You don’t know that.”
Johnson: “Yes I do. And, I’ll tell you why. (long pause)”
Stephanopoulos: “Go ahead.”
Johnson: “(deep breath) I would tell you this. Contrary to the great American delusion. Nicole spoke to her mother by phone, while O.J. signed autographs on the red-eye flight. And they hid the phone records from the jury. They were only shown fake, fraudulent phone records that supported Marcia Clark’s phony timeline. Nicole and Ron did not get killed until after midnight. You’d have to be an utter, absolute fool to assume that one guy could kill two people with a knife and nobody heard anything.”
Simpson trial expert Dan Abrams was in the studio with Stephanopoulos and quickly responded: “I’m one of the fools.”
The phone record theory is nothing new to the case, but Johnson seems to have introduced a fresh take with the “after midnight” part. Estimates put the time of the murders between 9:37 and 11 p.m.
In 2000, Simpson sued GTE Corp. to have the phone records released, according to a story by the Los Angeles Times. Simpson claims that phone records would have shown that Nicole talked to her mom around 11 p.m.
From the Los Angeles Times: “If the women talked on the phone at 11 p.m., Simpson claims, he has an ironclad alibi: He was riding in a limousine to Los Angeles International Airport to catch a flight to Chicago.”
The phone company said it was complying with California laws that protect the privacy of customers.
The suit was thrown out by a judge who said it “borders on being frivolous.”
Johnson was not able to go into further detail about his theory, but it would sure seem to undermine the timeline for the alleged frame-up of Simpson at his home. Don’t forget, Kato Kaelin heard the thump on the air conditioner at 10:45 p.m. The bodies of Nicole Simpson and Goldman were found at 12:10 a.m.
Abrams had the last word about Johnson’s revelation: “The reality is that O.J. Simpson was a free man and the reality is that a civil jury still believed he was responsible for the killing of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. … I think it’s disrespectful to their memories to have comments like this being made, suggesting that the case was all a fraud.”