O.J. Simpson Trial Began 20 Years Ago With "Wife Beater," “Abuser" Accusations

OJ Simpson
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Dubbed the case that changed modern courtroom coverage, over a 100 million people tuned in (giving the broadcast a 45.7 Nielsen rating) October 3, 1995 to watch Simpson receive an acquittal verdict for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Opening arguments began Jan. 24, 1995 with fiery opening statements from prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden.

The Trial of the Century is officially twenty years old.

Opening statement's for O.J. Simpson's murder trial began on Jan. 24, 1995, with prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden arguing that the former football star murdered his estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Darden asked rhetorically how a beloved figure could commit such a crime.

"Why would he do it? Not O.J. Simpson," Darden said. "Not the O.J. Simpson we think we know, not the O.J. Simpson we think we've seen over the years."

But he argued the football hero-turned comedic Naked Gun actor America knew was not the true Simpson, but rather a "public face" he put on to hide his true identity — that of "a batterer, a wife beater, an abuser, a controller."

See more O.J Simpson Murder Case at 20: A Look Back at the Trial of the Century

He went on to detail Simpson's initial romantic pursuit of Brown, when she was just 18 and he was a 29-year-old millionaire, chronicling a relationship that increasingly became more unhealthy and controlling over the years.

"The evidence will show that the face you see, and the man you will see, is the face of a batterer, a wife beater, an abuser, a controller. You will see the face of Ron and Nicole's murderer."

Read more O.J. Simpson Bronco Chase at 20: Larry King, CNN's Don Lemon and More Share Their Memories

As evidence of Simpson's allegedly controlling ways, he offered a chilling story of the ex-football player sitting and menacingly staring at his estranged wife during one of their daughter's dance recitals.

"He sat behind the Browns for a few moments, but then got up, and he grabbed a chair and dragged it to a corner of the auditorium, turned that chair around and he sat in it. And he sat there facing Nicole and just stared at her," Darden said. "You'll hear testimony about this and the evidence will show that this was a menacing stare, a penetrating stare. It was an angry stare and it made everyone very uncomfortable."

See more Revisiting the O.J. Simpson Murder Trial's Key Players

After Darden painted a portrait of "the why," Clark followed up with "the how" of Simpson allegedly committed the murders. She detailed a timeline in which Simpsons whereabouts were unaccounted for from 9:35 p.m. to 11 p.m. on June 12, 1994. She pointed to blood found in Simpson's car and home.

"And the results of the analysis of that blood confirms what the rest of the evidence will show, that on June the 12th, 1994, after a violent relationship in which the defendant beat her, humiliated her and controlled her, after he took her youth, her freedom and her self-respect, just as she tried to break free, Orenthal James Simpson took her very life in what amounted to his final and his ultimate act of control," Clark said.

Back in June, The Hollywood Reporter asked prominent media involved in covering the case about the Bronco chase watched around the world. Read the story here, and take a look back at the key moments of the case here. In addition, attorney Daniel Petrocelli, who later won a $33 million civil suit against Simpson, revealed for the first time the emotional details of the case.

Read more TV Ratings: O.J. Simpson Trial Remains a Solid Draw 20 Years Later