O. J.: The Last Word
The real inside story of the most famous murder case in American history. Spence solves the case and shows us where the trial went wrong. (St. Martin’s Press, N.Y. 1997)
O. J.: The Last Word is perhaps the most controversial and shocking book yet to be written about the O. J. Simpson murder case. Spence, who was O. J.’s first choice to represent him in the criminal trial, and who served as a national commentator throughout one of America’s greatest legal traumas, has chosen, after three years without a written word, to write this searingly honest, often caustic assessment of the trial that riveted a nation.
What distinguishes this landmark work from the torrent of articles and books that have been written about the case is that Spence has chosen not merely to exhume the facts surrounding the case and reassess whether or not O. J. was guilty, but rather to use the trial to write about America itself. Indeed, as Spence argues, this so-called celebrity-murder case tells as much about our own racially fractured nation and the meaning of justice as it does about an athlete named Orenthal James Simpson.
While both the defense and prosecution repeatedly claimed that this was not a case about race, not a murder that revolved around the evidence that a great black football star had murdered his blond ex-wife, Spence argues just the opposite: that this was a case about racial prejudices and bigotry from the start, and that those who choose to ignore these facts fail to understand the burning issues that continue to keep us a great nation divided. Like the Sacco and Vanzetti trial that inflamed the United States in the 1920s, the O. J. Simpson case, Spence asserts, reflects the divergent and often bitter hatreds of a nation struggling to remain as one.
Spence also uses the case to attack the media orgy that has helped to create a culture of celebrity obsession and materialistic greed. Spence reveals among other insights:
- New evidence of O. J.’s guilt
- How O. J. could have hidden the knife and his bloody clothes, and learned
- to stalk and kill at night
- A new analysis of the jury’s verdict
- Why Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden failed to prosecute the case
- A new, intimate trial lawyer’s view of Judge Ito
- Revolutionary prescriptions for a better legal system
- How he, Gerry Spence, would have tried the case
Measured and authoritative, O. J.: The Last Word will be debated and talked about for years to come, long after the “talking heads” have flocked to another crime that will dominate the talk shows and tabloid papers. Even though, as Spence states, “the last word on the Simpson case will never be written,” his portrait of America and its troubled justice system in the twilight of the twentieth century will serve as a witness to an era of cultural and ethical upheaval, and its attendant disillusionment.