LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Police said on Friday they were investigating a knife purportedly found at the former home of O.J. Simpson, the onetime football star who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in the so-called “Trial of the Century” that gripped the public two decades ago.
Forensic investigators were conducting DNA tests on the knife, which was recently turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department by a retired motorcycle officer, Lieutenant Andrew Neiman told reporters at a news conference.
Neiman said the officer told investigators he was given the knife by a construction worker, who in turn claimed to have found it on Simpson’s property in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles when the house was being torn down in 1998.
Police declined to elaborate on the timeline of when the knife was recovered but Neiman said it was possible that “the whole story is bogus from the get-go.”
He also would not name the retired police officer or speculate on why the weapon had been given to police only in the past two months.
“We still don’t know if that is an accurate account of how this item came into our possession,” Neiman said.
“If you are the individual that provided that knife we would love to have you contact our Robbery Homicide Division,” he added.
Authorities have not described the knife but the celebrity website TMZ reported it was a folding buck knife. Such a knife would typically be used for hunting.
The weapon used to stab and slash Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman to death on June 12, 1994 was never found at the time of his sensational trial, which was carried live on major television networks in the United States and transfixed much of the nation and was followed around the world.
Legal experts said Simpson could not be put on trial for the murders again because of the doctrine of double jeopardy.
“There really are no exceptions. Once somebody has been found not guilty of a crime, he cannot be charged with that crime again, under any circumstances,” said University of Southern California law professor Michael Brennan, a former criminal defence attorney. “O.J. could confess to the crimes and he couldn’t be charged again.”
Simpson was found liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman by a civil court jury in 1997 and ordered to pay US$33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families, a judgment that has remained largely unfulfilled.
He was convicted in Las Vegas in 2008 of kidnapping and robbery in a bungled attempt to recover memorabilia from his storied football career and was sentenced to a prison term of up to 33 years.
Highlighting the enduring fascination that the case holds for the American public, there were roughly 150 tweets a minute about O.J. Simpson on Friday, according to social media analytics firm Zoomph.
Reports about the knife surfaced just as a popular new FX cable television drama series, “The People v. O.J. Simpson,”chronicling the sensational trial, is airing. It debuted on Feb 2.