New doco argues ‘OJ Simpson is innocent, and I can prove it’
MORE than two decades on, the OJ Simpson case continues to intrigue the world.
While the former NFL star was cleared of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, he was found guilty in a civil case.
The case captured the world's attention, with many still disputing the not guilty verdict in the marathon criminal court case.
Now a new docu-series, Is OJ Innocent? The Missing Evidence, claims new evidence proves his innocence, and tests his theory a young relative was responsible.
After being found not guilty in 1995, a civil court jury found Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered he pay US$25 million in punitive damages to the families of Ms Simpson and Mr Goldman.
Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor and activist Martin Sheen, the new series follows investigators as they reopen the case that captivated the world.
Sheen hopes it can answer three questions: "What if there was enough evidence that proved O.J. Simpson did not murder his ex-wife Nicole or Ron Goldman? What if the real killer was still at large? And finally, what if a grand jury convened to reconsider the case based on new evidence?"
Interest in the Simpson case has been renewed in the past year thanks to Golden Globes-winning anthology series The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.
But the new docu-series is the latest chapter in what has become a 21-year-obsession for the private investigator making the claims, William C Dear.
It's based on Dear's 2012 book of his findings, OJ Is Innocent and I Can Prove It in which he floated the theory Jason may be responsible.
In the trailer for the new show, Dear says he never believed OJ killed the pair based on the evidence.
Dear has long claimed it doesn't add up. Blood was found in OJ's Ford Bronco, but it was on the passenger side of the vehicle. He believes alibis weren't extensively checked and it was impossible the murders were carried out by one person. He even has a knife he suspects is the murder weapon.
Over six episodes, the series follows LAPD forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie and Rhode Island police sergeant Derrick Levasseur as they join Dear testing new "evidence" and theories.
For Levasseur, an undercover cop and homicide investigator, who first appeared on TV when he won American Big Brother in 2012, it was like any other murder investigation.
"I was about 10 when this case unfolded so although I had heard things about it, I don't have the preconceived notions a lot of people do. I have a pretty fresh perspective on the case itself," Levasseur told news.com.au.
"But I do have 13 years of law enforcement experience, so I offered that new generational approach and also someone unbiased, who is a cop.
"When I first came on I flew on my own dollar to meet Bill in Texas and let him know that regardless of what the outcome was - whether or not it supported his theory - I was going to tell. We were both fine with that, so I signed on."
Levasseur won't reveal what his ultimate conclusion was after testing the theories, but confesses like many others including his fellow investigator Mohandie (who was one of the negotiators involved in OJ's bizarre Ford Bronco chase ahead of his arrest) he'd always gone with the widely held belief OJ "did it".
"Most people believe OJ did it," he says. "But once I committed to the investigation I wanted the mindset that this was a murder investigation that had just been thrown on my desk.
"I wanted to look at each piece of evidence on its face value and see what conclusions I would make.
"I can't reveal the outcome ahead of the show airing, but I will say by the end of this investigation what I originally thought was not the way I left. I can say my opinion of what happened on that evening was altered."
The series starts in the US on Sunday, and has already come under fire.
The lead prosecutor in the Simpson trial, Marcia Clark, wrote it off as "very offensive" in an appearance on the US Today show.
"I actually know the theory and what they're basing it on, and it's nonsense," she said last year.
"There's nothing to it."
"I am convinced that OJ never committed this murder but it was (a young relative) - he has the opportunity, the means and the motive to have killed (them)," Dear tells Mohandie and Levasseur. He challenges them to prove him wrong, and unveils a knife he believes to be the murder weapon.
His words are followed by a statement in white type on a black screen which reads: "The killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are crimes that remain unsolved. The opinions expressed in this series represent just some of the many conceivable scenarios regarding how those crimes may have occurred. The young relative has never been questioned or charged in relation to these crimes and he has not made any public statements about any allegations regarding his involvement. We encourage viewers to reach their own conclusions."
Levasseur has read Dear's book, so the theories were not new to him, but he was taken aback by Dear's conviction.
"He makes no bones about who he believes did it. That didn't surprise me - I had researched Bill and some of the evidence he was going to present," he says.
"But to hear it first-hand and the level of conviction in his voice. It's compelling.
"He spent more than 20 years investigating this case and when someone spends that much time and that much money, you have to listen. At the same time it's my responsibility as an impartial investigator to come to my own conclusions."
"For me personally, all I want is the truth. I'm not here to prove anyone right or wrong. I'm here to find out the truth for the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson.
"And as an active police officer I'm doing it for my reputation. I'm still an investigator, so I'm not going to say anything is true that I firmly professionally don't believe is so."
During the series, Levasseur meets the families of Ms Brown and Mr Goldman.
"I think for them when they started to learn we didn't have an agenda, we just wanted any information we could to get us close to what happened the night of the murders, they wanted to give us those tools," he says.
"While a lot of people might say they are family members who want this behind them and have moved on in their lives - and they have - they still want closure.
"If it was my family member I know that I wouldn't be completely satisfied until the person who murdered my family member was put in jail for that crime."
THE PEOPLE V OJ SIMPSON
He says comparisons between the doco-series and The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story (which he did not watch until his own project was finished) begin and end with the common subject: OJ.
"That show is a dramatic recreation based on what the public opinion is and most of us already know," he says.
"It's a great show with great actors, but it's a show, it's entertainment.
"This is a different genre. We did an actual investigation as truthfully and authentically as you do a real police investigation."
He admits he still has more questions. "I will always have questions, 22 years later I could have spent another three months on this case opening up doors," he says. "But I believe I have a pretty good idea what happened that night."
From the time an officer called in the double-murder from the bloody scene outside Ms Simpson's home in the plush Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood this would be a case like no other.
It was the early hours of the morning on June 13, 1994, and the officer already had a whiff of the controversy to come.
"I've got a double homicide that I wanna let you know about. It's gonna be press, they're gonna be crawling on us like ants when they find out what's going on," he said over police radio.
"Can you give me a name?" asks the radio operator.
The officer is reluctant, but, reminded he's talking to a fellow-investigator, and prompted again for the name, his voice crackles to life.
"Well I'm gonna have to trust you on this … it's OJ Simpson's ex-wife," he says.
There's a millisecond of silence as the information is digested. Then the response: "Oh Lord".
And from there the circus began.
By the time the former NFL star and ex-husband of Ms Simpson (she filed for divorced in 1992 amid claims of domestic abuse) had taken to his Ford Bronco, gun on board, and led police wanting to arrest him on a bizarre slow-speed chase along LA freeways in footage and audio beamed to the world via television, people were already making up their minds about his guilt or innocence.
The "trial of the century", again beamed to the world, eventually saw him acquitted, but by then the court of public opinion had made up his mind.
WHERE IS OJ NOW?
In December 2008, Simpson was found guilty of 10 charges related to a gunpoint robbery at the Palace Station hotel in Las Vegas. The crime was unrelated to the deaths of Ms Simpson and Mr Goldman.
The former NFL star, now 69, was sentenced to 33 years imprisonment, with a minimum of nine years. He is serving his sentence at Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada, and will be up for parole in July this year.
Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence starts in the US this Sunday. In Australia, it will air on Foxtel's Discovery Channel from February 5 at 8.30pm.