O.J. Simpson will be walking around as a free man in another three months.
Can you stomach that, or do you even care anymore?
A lot of people must be interested, judging by the networks. ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN — and even ESPN — broke into their regularly scheduled programming last week to bring you what amounted to “O.J.: The Sequel.”
The storyline this time was about whether O.J. would be paroled after serving nearly 10 years in prison for a botched robbery, or if at age 70, he would be left to rot in prison a little longer.
As O.J. does, he crossed the goal line a free man. Tarnished and beaten down, but still free. Free to run through an airport to get his Hertz rental car. Free to attend a Buffalo Bills or Southern Cal football game. Free to sit down with a bag of popcorn and watch his favorite movie, “The Naked Gun” (starring himself, of course). He’s even free to catch a ride in a white Bronco.
Left standing on the sidelines again with heavy hearts were the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, the two people Simpson was accused of murdering just over two decades ago.
“I don’t think he is worthy of the right to be out amongst decent people,” Fred Goldman, the father of Ron, said about Simpson’s parole. It was one of his gentler statements.
Goldman told CBS news there isn’t a day that goes by when he doesn’t think about his son.
“The only thing that happens is it becomes a new norm,” he said.
Putting the “Trial of the Century” behind them is something the many involved with it have struggled to do, according to various news reports.
Marcia Clark, the star Simpson prosecutor back in 1995, told ABC News she felt “such guilt” about Simpson’s acquittal that she stopped working as a special trials lawyer and moved to the suburbs with her kids.
“I felt like I’d let everyone down. The Goldmans. The Browns. My team. The country,” she wrote in her memoir of the trial, “Without a Doubt.”
She now writes fiction and has published four novels.
Brian “Kato” Kaelin, the “beach bum” friend of O.J. who was a guest at the Simpson house the night of the murders, told “Good Morning America” in 2012 that he tries not to think about his memories from that night. “I said I think he’s guilty and I said it many, many times. They cannot prove it. (The) jury said he’s innocent.”
Kato has spent his time since then trying to become an actor.
As for some of the others:
Johnnie Cochran, who led Simpson’s “Dream Team” of defense attorneys, died in March 2005 from an inoperable brain tumor. He’ll always be remembered for his closing argument, in which he noted of the infamous bloody glove, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Mark Fuhrman, the lead detective on the investigation, was booted off the Los Angeles Police Department for perjury related to the trial. He went on to become a TV analyst and New York Times best-selling author.
Alan Dershowitz, the appellate adviser for Simpson’s defense team, moved on to defend hedge fund mogul Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing underage girls. Epstein wound up serving only a year of house arrest.
Defense lawyer Robert Shapiro started a foundation in memory of his son, Brent Shapiro, who died from drug problems. He also went on to defend other celebrities and famous athletes, including Darryl Strawberry, Johnny Carson, and the Kardashians.
F. Lee Bailey, who helped run the “Dream Team,” was later disbarred over misconduct in an unrelated trial.
And then there’s Judge Lance Ito. After the Simpson verdict, he handled 500 more trials before retiring in 2015. He kept a low profile and seldom talked abut the case, but people never forgot him.
Right up to his retirement he would have to replace the nameplate on his office door as it was a constant target of souvenir hunters.
ROSES AND THORNS: The rose garden clears a path for three guys riding bicycles.
Rose: To Lima Police Lt. Andy Green, Sgt. Nick Hart and Patrolman Chad Kunkleman. While on bike patrol in a pinpoint policing operation, the officers noticed two people acting suspiciously in the parking lot of the McDonald’s restaurant on West Market Street. They checked the people’s vehicle and found 57 grams of Carfentanil along with a large amount of cash. Carfentanil is the new terror of the heroin epidemic. Its side effect is death.
Rose: To Wapakoneta Police Chief Russel Hunlock. He’s retiring after 27 years in law enforcement, the last eight as chief,
Thorn: Within a two-hour span Friday, a woman driver struck a home in Elida and a male driver drove his vehicle into the Domino’s pizza shop on Cable Court in Lima.
Thorn: Miss Kentucky USA 2011, Kia B. Hampton, 28, of Louisville, Kentucky, was indicted this month by an Allen County grand jury after she was caught attempting to smuggle 2.82 grams of marijuana into the Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution.
PARTING SHOT: Some people are like clouds. When they go away, it’s a brighter day.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.