Crime and Punishment

Update: Knife from Simpson property “doesn’t appear to be connected” to murders

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Even if a connection were to be proven, double jeopardy would prevent the knife from being used against Simpson.

When the story broke on Friday, people speculated that the knife discovered by a construction worker and turned over to an off-duty cop who kept it for decades might be the long lost murder weapon. Although in rough shape from exposure and corrosion, the folding knife might still hold some DNA evidence, though the chain of custody is obviously shot.

Turns out that sources tell the LA Times that there does not now appear to be a connection between the knife and the murders.

While specialists are testing the knife, law enforcement sources said a preliminary review suggested that the weapon appeared to be unconnected to the brutal 1994 slayings of Simpson’s wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

But the sources said a full investigation was continuing.

Simpson was tried for murder but a jury found him not guilty.

The retired Los Angeles police officer given a knife found by the construction worker called the LAPD to report it years ago, his attorney said Friday.

When the department showed no interest, retired officer George Maycott put it in his toolbox for more than a decade, attorney Trent Copeland said.

The LAPD is investigating whether the knife is tied to the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman and is conducting a forensic examination. Department officials say at this stage they have nothing to tie the knife to the slayings.

While the knife is unlikely to shed any new light on the case, it does serve as a reminder of the role the Simpson case has had in shaping the current mistrust between police and the citizenry.

From Washington Post:

The verdict by the mostly black jury in Simpson’s 1995 double-murder trial has for more than two decades been widely lampooned and criticized. Simpson’s blood, after all, was found at the crime scene. But the jury’s refusal to convict him probably should have been understood as a national warning, one that is particularly relevant today.

When the unlawful and sometimes-deadly actions of some police officers go unobserved, unexamined and unpunished, it’s not just the lives of Americans of color — those disproportionately likely to suffer various forms of police and justice system abuse — that are devalued and rendered less secure. The entire concept of justice is eroded, and the process we use to try to render it prone to folly.

The connection between the kind of alleged brutality that made the L.A. Police Department infamous in the 1990s and a mostly black L.A. jury’s refusal to convict Simpson is real. It was the primary reason that large shares of black Americans and white Americans did not view the verdict the same way in the 1990s. (Only in 2015 did a majority among both say Simpson was guilty.) And that connection ranks among the primary reasons that more widespread allegations of police misconduct should be taken seriously today.

We will continue to update if further developments warrant.

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