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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

New Discovery Networks show attempts to solve the O J Simpson case

It features LAPD forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie, Rhode Island cop Derrick LeVasseur, and private detective William Dear, who wrote the 2012 book O J is Innocent and I Can Prove It.
From left, William Dear, Derrick LeVasseur and Kris Mohandie. Courtesy Discovery
From left, William Dear, Derrick LeVasseur and Kris Mohandie. Courtesy Discovery

Did American football star O J Simpson murder his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman in June 1994?

Not according to a United States criminal court, in which he was cleared of the double murder in October the following year after a lengthy, much-­publicised, televised trial.

Not everyone accepted this verdict, not least the families of the victims, who launched a civil case that resulted in a jury finding Simpson “responsible” for the deaths. The civil court did not have the power to impose a sentence, but it did order Simpson to pay the families more than US$30million (Dh110mn) in compensation.

Public interest in the case – one of the great “unsolved” crimes of the 20th century – remains high, fuelled in the past year alone by the ESPN documentary, O J: Made in America, which examined the case afresh with the benefit of 20 years of hindsight, and the star-studded, Emmy and Golden Globe-winning FX ­mini-series The People vs O J Simpson: American Crime Story, which presented a dramatised account of the murder trial.

Now it is the turn of Discovery Networks to revisit the case in Is O J Innocent? The Missing Evidence. It features LAPD forensic psychologist Kris Mohandie, Rhode Island cop Derrick LeVasseur, and private detective William Dear, who wrote the 2012 book O J is Innocent and I Can Prove It.

The three form an investigation team and in each episode dissect existing and new evidence with fresh eyes and the latest technology to shed light on the mystery.

Levasseur was a child at the time of the murder trial, but has plenty of ideas about why we are still fascinated by it more than 20 years later.

“It’s a few things,” he says. “You have a celebrity involved with it. You have race involved with it. You have the aspect of revenge, jealousy.

“And then also there’s this murder, you know, on top of all of that. And then you have a fallen hero in O J Simpson. I mean, let’s not forget he was loved by all of America.”

Mohandie has very personal reasons for his fascination with the case.

“I was there that day as part of the negotiation team,” he says. “Having been there during that time period, it’s a different perspective because it’s just hard to fathom just how captivating it was for everybody – and me just driving up the street that day to do my job, and hundreds of ­people being there and all the media.”

As a member of the original investigation team, ­Mohandie admits that the case remains an unrivalled mystery.

“It’s the ultimate cold case for me because to date, it still hasn’t been solved, if you will,” he says.

Many aspects of and images from the case will be familiar to viewers – from the televised police pursuit of Simpson in a white Ford Bronco to the bloodstained gloves Simpson was ordered to try on in the courtroom – but the team also looked at new evidence.

“[There] was this knife, this alleged knife that was involved in the case,” says Derrick. “We wanted to look into that. There were also some things surrounding some of the suspects’ personal motives, and what may have triggered them to do something like this.

“These are things, that were presented for the first time, that we also looked into from an evidentiary standpoint and also, with Kris, from a psychological standpoint.”

Mohandie also highlights the new evidence, and the benefit of looking at existing evidence with a fresh set of eyes.

“[There are] alternate theories that we explore as to what may have happened that evening,” he says. “I’m not aware of any exploration of these alternate theories, and with these alternate theories came new information.”

To find out what conclusion the team come to, you will have to watch the show – whatever the verdict, Mohandie seems satisfied that the team did their best to investigate.

“I think you’re going to find that it gives a sense of thoroughness that both Derrick and I feel satisfied about,” he adds.

Is O J Innocent? The Missing Evidence begins on Tuesday, January 31, at midnight on Discovery ID Xtra

cnewbould@thenational.ae

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