A Mystery Within A Murder Mystery

Here’s my People vs. Simpson haiku of 20 years ago today.

Mist’ry envelope

Will the public ever know?



A manila envelope, thought to contain either the murder weapon or a knife similar to it that surfaced during the preliminary hearing, is subject of great speculation during pretrial proceedings.

The envelope first appeared at the preliminary hearing when the case was still in the municipal court.

(At the time, procedures for felony cases were for the defendant to appear before  a municipal court judge and enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. Then a preliminary hearing is held at which a municipal court judge determines if the prosecutors have enough evidence to take the case to trial. If the judge says the prosecution does have sufficient evidence, the defendant is bound over for trial. The next step is for the defendant to again enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty at a superior court appearance. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case is assigned to a trial judge and pretrial proceedings are held, if needed, in preparation for trial.)

At Simpson’s preliminary hearing, one of the most bizarre things happened that I’ve ever seen in court. The supervising judge of the superior court’s criminal division, Cecil Mills, walked into the municipal courtroom through the public entrance (not via the private door near the bench that judges use to enter and leave a courtroom) while court was in session. He crossed the courtroom and went up to the municipal court preliminary judge, Kathleen Kennedy-Powell, who was presiding at the hearing, and handed her a sealed manila envelope.

What made that event bizarre was that I’d never seen a judge do what Cecil Mills did. First, if a judge had something s/he wanted to get to another judge, he would have someone–a clerk, a bailiff or some other staff person–deliver it. S/He wouldn’t have do so personally. Second, the delivering judge would have come into the courtroom through the judge’s door from the judges’ back hallway, not entered via the public entrance. Third, s/he would have given the envelope/package or whatever to the courtroom bailiff, not approached the judge directly while court was in session and the judge was on the bench.

Judge Kennedy-Powell, saying the envelope contained evidence provided by the defense, instructed both sides in the case to give her written reports on how they though she should deal with it. The next time I saw it was in Judge Lance Ito’s chambers when the case was in superior court. The envelope was still sealed, and Ito said he was turning it over to retired superior court Judge Delbert Wong, whom Ito had selected to be a special master to maintain custody of the envelope.

The contents of envelope was never revealed in court, although it was widely speculated to be a knife and receipt of purchase from a Los Angeles cutlery store.


3 responses to “A Mystery Within A Murder Mystery

  1. The incompetence of the prosecutorial team in the OJ Simpson murder trial was stunning. This was especially true because my father was an long-standing attorney and I was a law school student. There were obvious errors in judgement, failure to rebut certain evidence, and allowing Simpson to “try on” the blood and water-soaked LEATHER gloves and then not introducing into evidence that (1) LEATHER shrinks markedly after being saturated with moisture and then allowed to dry, and (2) plastic/latex gloves create sufficient friction to inhibit the donning of even perfectly sized gloves. I have never heard or seen this issue addressed! Darden claims the “dream ” (or should we say nightmare…that’s if you wanted to see justice done) team Johnny Cochran specifically tore the lining in such a way that they wouldn’t fit…and the reason that Darden didn’t make a complaint was he didn’t want to seen as a “snitch”! WTF!!!!!!! It is clear that the errors that I previously mentioned are the main omissions that led to his acquittal. Some other notables are the mysterious brown envelope delivered to the municipal court pre-trial hearing by a judge totally unrelated to the trial, who entered through the public public entrance when he should have used the judges entrance (1) and protocol would have been to have clerk deliver “evidence” (2) and (3) no-one ever brought it up and finally (4) he did this while court was in session!! Why did they fail to bring in the infamous “slow-speed” Chase wherein Simpson was attempting to escape to Mexico obviously to avoid arrest and prosecution complete with disguise AND $10,000? Never explained to my knowledge. I could go on but I won’t. Suffice it to say when on vacation in Mexico when the verdict came in we watched on TV and when I heard the verdict I suddenly completely understood why Elvis shot his TV! Thank God that murdering son-of-a-bitch got his just rewards and is languishing in a penitentiary!

    Respectfully submitted for your consideration.

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