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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Did O.J. Simpson Kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman?

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on April 12, 2024

IMAGE: Johnnie Cochran (left), with a smiling O.J. Simpson.

An Editorial Opinion


On April 10, 2024, O.J. Simpson died without making a deathbed confession to murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.


The question of the ages is this: Did O.J. murder these two homicide victims on the night of June 12, 1994? 


O.J. was formally charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman and tried on these charges. 

On October 3, 1995, a jury found O.J. “not guilty” of the two murders.


Blacks in America thought justice had been served in O.J.’s criminal case, while whites around the country were enraged by O.J.’s acquittal.


Friends, Peers, and Allies


Johnnie Cochran was a member of O.J.’s criminal defense team.  Johnnie was also a friend of mine, a peer in the national community of criminal defense lawyers who had won high-profile criminal cases, and an ally in the legal profession.  


Before O.J.’s case, Johnnie had won the freedom of Geronimo Pratt, a decorated military veteran and a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  


In the early 1970s, the FBI targeted Pratt in a COINTELPRO operation that was intended to "neutralize Pratt as an effective BPP functionary." Pratt was tried and convicted in 1972 for the 1968 murder of Caroline Olsen.  He served 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement.  


Pratt was freed in 1997 after his conviction was vacated because prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence that tended to prove his innocence.  


Johnnie considered Pratt's release from prison "the happiest day" of his legal career.


In 1976, I won a full and unconditional pardon from the state of Alabama for Clarence Norris, the last surviving “Scottsboro Boy.”  Norris was one of nine teenage "Scottsboro Boys" who were falsely accused in 1931 of raping two white girls on a train running through Paint Rock, Alabama.  All of the "Boys"were arrested, tried, and convicted of rape. Eight of them were sentenced to death on multiple occasions.  

The U.S. Supreme Court saved the Scottsboro Boys on three occasions within hours of their scheduled execution. 


The Clarence Norris pardon was based upon a finding of “innocence” of the criminal charge of rape, as proclaimed by the Alabama Pardons and Parole Board.  This was the first pardon ever granted by the state to a person who was originally sentenced to death and who was later declared innocent of the charges for which he was convicted.


The Clarence Norris pardon, which was awarded to him in person, was the greatest and most satisfying accomplishment in my 43-year legal career.


In 1992, I successfully prevented a criminal prosecution of Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr, on federal public corruption charges.  Arrington was a victim of the unofficial and unlawful COINTELPRO program. He was a designated "target" in a racially-motivated, Birmingham-based, criminal investigation for four years (1988-1992).

My criminal defense team ultimately persuaded the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington to decline the approval of an indictment in Arrington's case. I was also able to get the Department to issue its first-ever formal public apology to the “target” of a public corruption investigation.


By 1995, Johnnie Cochran and I had earned national reputations for our work in high-profile criminal cases. 


The New Orleans Conversation


After O.J.’s acquittal, I saw Johnnie in New Orleans, Louisiana.  We discussed Johnnie's work in O.J.’s case at length, including Johnnie's strained relationship with co-counsel Robert Shapiro and Shapiro’s post-trial criticism that Johnnie had played the race card “from the bottom of the deck” to win O.J.’s case.


Of course, I asked Johnnie whether O.J. had killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, as charged in the criminal indictment.  Based upon this private conversation between two friends, peers, and allies, I knew going forward that the answer to my question was a definite, “Yes.”




Johnnie Cochran died on March 29, 2005, while I was in the middle of a six-month criminal trial in the case of U.S. v. Richard Scrushy.  Scrushy, the founder and former CEO of HealthSouth Corp., was charged with leading a multiyear, $2.7 billion corporate fraud scheme.

My criminal defense team defeated federal prosecutors on all 85 felony charges in Scrushy's original indictment. 


Unlike O.J. Simpson, Richard Scrushy was truly innocent of all 85 criminal charges against him. Under pressure from our defense team, federal prosecutors voluntarily dismissed 27 of the 85 felony charges against Scrushy in a superseding indictment.


I retired from practicing law in 2019.



Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins

I have zero tolerance for wife-beaters and murderers, no matter who they are. Johnnie Cochran and I were friends, peers, and allies. I knew what precise questions to ask Johnnie about O.J. Simpson and the evidence in his criminal case. Johnnie answered my trial lawyer questions in a frank and candid manner. After my discussion with Johnnie, I knew O.J. Simpson was a convicted wife-beater and unconvicted murderer. I maintained the confidence of Johnnie's information until Johnnie and O.J. died.


Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins

This is the situation with respect to the people who support O.J. Simpson and Donald Trump.

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