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Where Are They Now? 10 Key Players in The O.J. Simpson Trial

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On January 24, 1995, opening statements began in the case of the People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson, a.k.a. The O.J. Simpson Murder Trial. For more than eight months, the jury—and more than 100 million interested members of the television-viewing public—watched as dozens of witnesses, experts, and legal pros were paraded in front of the cameras, and turned into instant celebrities.

While some key members of the trial—including Simpson's prone-to-theatrics "Dream Team" defense attorney Johnnie Cochran and fellow lawyer/Simpson family friend Robert Kardashian—have since passed away, others have spent the last 20 years rehashing the events of the trial of the century. Besides being fictionalized in FX's new hit series, The People vs O.J. Simpson, what are they doing now?

1. BRIAN “KATO” KAELIN

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The most famous face of the O.J. Simpson trial (besides the defendant himself) might very well be Kato Kaelin, the sometime-actor who was staying in Simpson’s guest house at the time of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman’s murders and the man who initially served as sort of an alibi for Simpson, as the two drove to a McDonald’s that evening together.

Kaelin’s jokey, laidback, surfer dude persona turned him into a tragic-comic punch line at the time. The trial allowed Kaelin to extend his 15 minutes of fame into some bona fide (albeit tiny) cameos on MADtv and Mr. Show, plus a string of reality and game show gigs on Celebrity Boot Camp, Gimme My Reality Show, and The Weakest Link. In 2014, Kaelin told Details that today “my opinion is I think he's guilty.” He also took that time to promote his loungewear line, Kato Potato (now known as Slacker Wear), noting, “I really think this will be successful. But it's not clothing for superheroes. Everyone with a couch is a couch potato sometimes. Each piece has a pocket with a zipper for the TV remote, so you'll never lose it. There's also a pocket for Cheetos, Fritos, or Doritos.”

2. AL COWLINGS

Al "AC" Cowlings was a familiar name in sports circles long before he hopped behind the wheel of a white Ford Bronco and led police—and reporters—on a low-speed car chase along a California freeway. Ultimately, it was with Cowlings’ help that Simpson was eventually arrested. Though Cowlings always maintained that he was helping Simpson turn himself in, not flee, he was arrested for aiding a fugitive but never charged due to lack of evidence.

In 1997, records show that Cowlings filed for bankruptcy. And that white Ford Bronco? It was purchased by Michael Pulwer shortly after the civil trial for $75,000, who keeps it stored in an undisclosed spot but does make it available on occasion for rent or exhibit. “It’s well taken care of,” Pulwer told the New York Daily News in 2014. “It’s not on the street … I think someday, somebody will want to have it in a museum of famous or infamous cars.” 

3. FRED GOLDMAN

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Fred Goldman, Ron Goldman’s father, still stands as an example to the families of murder victims everywhere. Throughout the trial he was an eloquent spokesperson for the victims who couldn’t speak for themselves, and spent more than a decade pursuing civil claims against Simpson. The additional court time revealed even more details about the case and ended with Simpson being ordered to pay $33.5 million to the victims’ families, although Simpson has only paid a small amount of that. What money Goldman and his family have gotten has been channeled back into the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice, a nonprofit organization they founded to assist crime victims. 

4. DENISE BROWN

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Nicole Brown Simpson’s sister, Denise Brown, was a powerful voice for victims of abuse. Her testimony about the abuse that Nicole Brown Simpson suffered at the hands of O.J. made for some of the trial’s most memorable moments. Brown, too—along with her late father, Lou—set up a foundation in her sister’s name to educate and raise awareness about domestic abuse.

In 2014, Brown penned an essay for TIME in which she detailed the pain she still feels, more than 20 years after the loss. “To this day, so many people continue to give me praise about the work I’ve done since Nicole’s murder,” Brown wrote. “The truth of it all was that I couldn’t stand how the ‘Dream Team’ was portraying Nicole, and at the same time, I also couldn’t stomach the thought of my sister being a victim. I wanted and still want people to really see my sister as a strong, vibrant woman.” 

5. MARCIA CLARK

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Marcia Clark was an L.A. deputy district attorney when she was tasked with taking on Simpson’s highly-paid “Dream Team” of lawyers. It was the kind of case that could make or break an attorney’s career, but Clark was no newcomer; in 1991, she successfully prosecuted Robert John Bardo for the murder of My Sister Sam actress Rebecca Schaeffer. And while the outcome in the Simpson trial wasn’t in Clark’s favor, it did help her to discover a new passion in life—writing. In 1997, Clark co-authored Without a Doubt, a book about the Simpson trial, with Teresa Carpenter. She has since written four novels (with a new one coming out in May) and often appears on television as a legal expert in high-profile cases. “Writing novels and being in the courtroom—it's a storytelling job, no matter how you look at it,” Clark told Oprah in 2013. “It's the same thing.” 

6. CHRISTOPHER DARDEN

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Clark’s partner in prosecution during the trial was Christopher Darden, who famously asked Simpson to put on one of the bloody gloves found at the crime scene. This led to Johnnie Cochran’s famous declaration: “If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit.”

Shortly after the end of the trial, Darden left the district attorney’s office and was appointed as an associate professor of law at L.A.’s Southwestern University School of Law. In 1999 he founded his own firm, Darden & Associates. As recently as 2012, the Simpson trial outcome was clearly still weighing on Darden’s mind when he stated, during a panel conversation at Pace Law School, that he believed Johnnie Cochran tampered with the evidence. “I think Johnnie tore the lining,” Darden told the crowd. “There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.'s fingers couldn't go all the way up into the glove.” 

7. MARK FUHRMAN

Mark Fuhrman was the LAPD detective who investigated the Brown Simpson-Goldman murders. After stating that he found two bloody gloves that he believed were worn by the murderer, Fuhrman entered Simpson’s property without a search warrant, allowing the defense to claim that Fuhrman could have planted evidence. Further questioning of Fuhrman led to him being accused of racism, all of which resulted in a perjury conviction. But Fuhrman has found much success since the conclusion of the trial; in 1997 he wrote Murder in Brentwood, a bestselling book about the trial, which he followed up with several more popular true crime novels covering everything from the JFK assassination to the death of Terri Schiavo. In a 2010 interview with Oprah, Fuhrman said that if he could say one thing to Simpson today, it would be that, “I know you didn't mean to kill two people, and you didn't go there for that, and it wasn't a first degree murder.”  

8. LANCE ITO

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Though much of a judge’s work is done out of the spotlight, overseeing the Simpson trial made Judge Lance Ito one of its most familiar faces. He even inspired a Jay Leno sketch: The Dancing Itos. Because of the divisive nature of the case, Ito earned both cheers and jeers for his handling of the evidence, particularly as it related to Mark Fuhrman. Though he rarely spoke publicly about the case, Ito—who now administers the appointment of experts in death penalty cases—changed the game for high-profile cases like Simpson’s when he allowed cameras into the courtroom.

9. ROBERT SHAPIRO

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Like so many other key people in the O.J. Simpson trial, lawyer Robert Shapiro, who successfully defended Simpson, eventually wrote a book about the case—The Search for Justice: A Defense Attorney’s Brief on the O.J. Simpson Case. Also like so many other members of the legal teams on both sides, he shifted his focus shortly after the trial ended—in Shapiro's case, from criminal defense to civil litigation. He also co-founded the online legal site LegalZoom.com, as well as ShoeDazzle with Kim Kardashian, the daughter of his former colleague Robert Kardashian.

10. O.J. SIMPSON

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Finally, the most famous face of the trial: The defendant himself, a retired pro football player turned commentator and actor. Though Simpson was found not guilty of the murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and waiter Ronald Goldman in 1995, two years later he was back in court facing a wrongful death charge in a civil suit brought about by the victims’ families, where he was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.

Over the next decade, Simpson ran into a number of other legal troubles, ranging from suspicion of ecstasy possession and money laundering to speeding through a manatee protection zone. In 2007, Simpson led a group of men into a hotel room at the Palace Station hotel in Las Vegas in order to steal some sports paraphernalia that Simpson claimed belonged to him. On December 5, 2008, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison. In 2013, Simpson was granted parole for some of his crimes but will remain in prison until at least 2017.

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8 Arresting Facts About Scotland Yard
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Jack Taylor, Getty Images

Depicted in fiction for well over a century as the world's premier police force, Scotland Yard might be the most famous banner for law enforcement in history. Though the name itself is officially a term for the location of the London Metropolitan Police headquarters, it’s taken on a colloquial use to describe the collective brain trust of that station’s patrolmen and detectives. Here’s what we’ve deduced about the past, present, and future of this historic—and sometimes controversial—institution.

1. IT GOT ITS NAME FROM A TRICKY BIT OF GEOGRAPHY.

London didn’t have a formal police force until 1829, when Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel arranged for a squad to replace the fractured system of watchmen, street patrols, and the River Police. Colonel Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne were tasked with organizing the force: Mayne’s house at 4 Whitehall Place opened to an adjacent courtyard that had once been a medieval palace that hosted Scottish royalty while they were in London. This “Great Scotland Yard,” which was also reportedly the name of the street behind the building, became synonymous with Rowan and Mayne’s efforts to create a new era in law enforcement.

2. CHARLES DICKENS TAGGED ALONG ON PATROLS.

Author Charles Dickens poses for a photo
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The renowned author of Great Expectations and other literary classics wasn’t a policeman, but he did perform the 19th-century equivalent of a ride-along. Dickens was friends with Charles Frederick Field, a Scotland Yard inspector, and their relationship led to Dickens occasionally accompanying patrolmen on their nightly rounds. He even based a character in his novel Bleak House on Fields.

3. THERE WERE DIRTY COPS AMONG THE RANKS IN THOSE EARLY DAYS.

For all of the public acceptance of Scotland Yard—Londoners were initially wary of the plainclothes cops walking among them—the squad suffered a sensational blow to its image in 1877. Known as the “Turf Fraud Scandal” or the “Trial of the Detectives,” the controversy erupted after a Parisian socialite named Madame de Goncourt was conned by two men named Harry Benson and William Kurr. Scotland Yard inspector Nathaniel Druscovich was dispatched to Amsterdam to capture a fleeing Benson while others pursued Kurr. The men proved surprisingly elusive, which prompted suspicion among Scotland Yard officials. When the two con men were finally arrested, they explained that an inspector named John Meiklejohn was taking bribes in exchange for tipping off Kurr to police activity. Two other policemen were implicated; the three each received two years in prison. The high-profile breach led to a reorganization, with the Yard inserting detectives into a new Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to help minimize misconduct.

4. THEY HELPED PIONEER FINGERPRINTING.

A Scotland Yard employee examines fingerprints
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At one time, the science of fingerprinting was more of a theory than anything that could be put into practice. Most police forces instead relied on anthropometry, a system created by French police officer Alphonse Bertillon, which used 11 body measurements taken by calipers to provide a unique physical identity for an individual. While fingerprinting was beginning to take off in India in the late 1800s, the English-speaking world didn’t adopt the forensic technique of lifting and matching prints until 1901, when Sir Edward Henry, then the assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, instituted the Metropolitan Police Fingerprint Bureau. In 1902, a billiard ball thief was convicted based on a fingerprint he left on a windowsill. In 1904, a Yard detective demonstrated the efficacy of fingerprinting at the St. Louis World’s Fair, helping spread the new science to American law enforcement officials.

5. THEIR PATROL OFFICERS DIDN’T CARRY GUNS UNTIL 1994.

The uniformed police officers who wander London’s streets with an eye on keeping the peace were unarmed for most of the 20th century. It wasn’t until 1994 that select patrol officers were permitted to carry guns, a policy shift that stemmed from increased assaults on police. The addition of firearms was limited to armed response cars intended to be dispatched to high-risk calls; previously, officers were instructed to keep their weapons in a lockbox inside their vehicles. Today, 90 percent of Metropolitan police officers go on duty without a gun, a policy largely maintained in response to a relatively low number of guns carried by civilians. Less than four in 100 British citizens own a firearm.

6. THEY HAVE A SQUAD OF “SUPER RECOGNIZERS.”

A surveillance camera is posted in London
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With surveillance cameras dotting London, facial recognition for identifying criminal suspects is in high demand. But no software can outperform Scotland Yard’s team of “super recognizers,” who are recruited for their ability to match a face to a name based on their own memory. These officers are hired by administering a facial recognition test first implemented by Harvard in 2009. Those in the top percentile have an uncanny ability to retain facial feature details and are often dispatched to cull out known criminals like pickpockets at public gatherings. One such specialist, Constable Gary Collins, identified 180 people out of 4000 while examining footage of the 2011 London riots. Software was able to identify exactly one.

7. THEY KEEP A SECRET CRIME MUSEUM HIDDEN FROM THE PUBLIC.

Housed across two floors at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London is the Black Museum, a macabre cavalcade of evidence from nearly 150 years of investigative work. Established in 1875, the collection houses body parts (gallstones that failed to dissolve in acid along with the rest of a murder victim) and seemingly innocuous items that take on sinister connotations: A set of pots and pans that once belonged to Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen and were used to boil human flesh. It’s closed to the public, though visiting law enforcement and sometimes celebrities can secure an invite: Laurel and Hardy and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have toured its inventory. A sample of the collection went on display at the Museum of London in 2015.  

8. YOU COULD LIVE THERE ONE DAY.

The former New Scotland Yard building at 10 Broadway
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The Metropolitan Police have changed locations several times over the years. It was situated at its original location of 4 Whitehall Place from 1829 to 1890, then housed in a large Victorian building on the Victoria Embankment from 1890 until 1967. That’s when the operation was moved to a 600,000 square-foot building at 10 Broadway in Westminster: a famous revolving sign announced a New Scotland Yard was taking up residence. In 2014, the building was sold to investors from Abu Dhabi for $580 million: London cited operating expenses and budget cuts as the reasons for the sale. The buyers plan to mount a residential housing project in the spot. Scotland Yard staff moved to a trimmed-down facility at the Curtis Green Building in Westminster and within walking distance of the Houses of Parliament.   

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Why an Ex-FBI Agent Recommends Wrapping Your Keys in Tinfoil Whenever You Leave Your Car
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A car thief doesn't need to get their hands on your keys to break into your vehicle. If you use a wireless, keyless system, or fob, to unlock your car, all they need to do is steal the signal it emits. Luckily there's a tool you can use to protect your fob from hackers that you may already have in your kitchen at home: tinfoil.

Speaking with USA Today, retired FBI agent Holly Hubert said that wrapping car fobs in a layer of foil is the cheapest way to block their sensitive information from anyone who may be trying to access it. Hackers can easily infiltrate your car by using a device to amplify the fob signal or by copying the code it uses. And they don't even need to be in the same room as you to do it: They can hack the fob inside your pocket from the street outside your house or office.

Electronic car theft is a growing problem for automobile manufacturers. Ideally fobs made in the future will come with cyber protection built-in, but until then the best way to keep your car safe is to carry your fob in an electromagnetic field-blocking shield when you go out. Bags made specifically to protect your key fob work better than foil, but they can cost more than $50. If tinfoil is all you can afford, it's better than nothing.

At home, make sure to store your keys in a spot where they will continue to get protection. Dropping them in a metal coffee can is a lot smarter than leaving them out in the open on your kitchen counter.

[h/t USA Today]

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