In another twist in the long-running O.J. Simpson saga, Los Angeles police are investigating and testing a knife that was reportedly recovered on the Brentwood property once owned by the former football star.
The elite Robbery-Homicide Division is investigating a knife now in the possession of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The knife was apparently turned over to a police officer a number of years ago by a construction worker who was helping to raze Simpson’s mansion on Rockingham Avenue, police said.
At a press conference at LAPD headquarters Friday morning, Capt. Andy Neiman said the officer was a traffic cop and was working on a movie set when he was given the knife.
Detectives learned of the knife’s existence last month, and are now investigating where it came from, according to Neiman, who cautioned that the investigation is still in its early stages.
Neiman told reporters it was unclear why the officer waited nearly two decades to hand over the knife.
“I don’t know why that didn’t happen or if that’s entirely accurate or if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go,” he said.
Attorney Carl Douglas — a member of O.J. Simpson’s legal “dream team” that secured his 1995 acquittal in the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman — on Friday called the story “ridiculous.”
“It’s amazing how the world cannot move on from this case!” Douglas said. “And it, and the media, is apparently still fascinated by everything O.J. Simpson.”
Douglas said he remembers that “there were indications that two different knives may have been used. One with a straight edge, and one with a serrated edge.” But he cautioned that people sometimes will do anything for 15 minutes of fame.
The officer who had the knife was retiring and apparently informed robbery-homicide detectives of the weapon’s existence in the last few months. An LAPD detective informed superiors, who immediately launched an investigation into the knife’s history and ordered a series of forensic tests to determine whether it had any connection with the June 12, 1994, murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman.
Authorities are also looking into what charges, if any, the officer could face if the knife turns out to be evidence that he withheld.
Neiman said he was “quite shocked,” to learn about this latest turn in a case that remains open to this day.
A police source told the Los Angeles Times that the weapon being investigated was a buck knife. At Friday’s press conference however, Neiman declined to specify what type of knife it was.
“It is a knife, not a machete,” he said.
Finding the knife that killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman had been an obsession of police and others in the wake of the murders.
Authorities searched for the murder weapon for months after the slayings, and there have been many leads that went cold.
A 15-inch knife with a retractable blade that Simpson purchased at Ross Cutlery in downtown Los Angeles briefly tantalized prosecutors in his criminal trial. They thought it might be the murder weapon, and even asked a coroner to compare that type of blade with the slicing and stabbing wounds of the victims. The fact that no one could locate the knife only added to the intrigue.
But the defense produced the knife — in an envelope that became known as the “mystery envelope” in the preliminary hearing. Forensic tests later revealed that the knife was in pristine condition, with no scratches or bloodstains to suggest it had been used in the vicious double homicide.
Prosecutors in Simpson’s criminal trial never introduced it as evidence
In 1994, a woman discovered a kitchen knife smeared with red stains less than a block from Simpson’s home.
A blood-soaked glove that police believed was used during the killings was found at Simpson’s house. But whether it fit Simpson’s hand became a famously debated point during the trial.
A jury found Simpson not guilty of the murders in October 1995.
When the new owners of Simpson’s Brentwood estate decided to raze it in 1998, a man involved in the construction joked in an interview with The Times: “We haven’t found the knife yet.”
The existence of the latest knife was first reported by TMZ.
Whether the knife is found to be connected to the murders or not, it will likely have little impact on Simpson’s legal future.
Attorney Dmitry Gorin, a former prosecutor, said once a person has been acquitted of murder by a jury, it would be double jeopardy to try the same person again for the same crime.
“You can’t be prosecuted again,” he said.
The only exception is in federal court, Gorin said. But in that case, federal prosecutors would need to have a federal question that applies to a particular case.
In the O.J. Simpson case, Gorin said he doesn’t see any situation in which a federal question would arise.
“It’s very strange this is happening,” he said.
Gorin said he doesn’t understand why anybody would withhold evidence, and not immediately come forward with it.