Romper

Did Robert Kardashian Think OJ Simpson Was Guilty? He Changed His Opinion

VInce Bucci/Getty Images

With the record-breaking premiere of the latest true crime series, American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, viewers are, yet again, getting drawn into the bizarre twists of the 1995 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, Simpson's then-wife, and Ronald Goldman, Brown Simpson's friend. Robert Kardashian, one of Simpson's closest friends and his lawyer, is played in the show by none other than Friends sweetheart, David Schwimmer. A major point of tension in episode one is when Kardashian has reason to doubt his friend's word and his friend's innocence. Though this is a dramatization, it still raises the question: did Robert Kardashian think O.J. Simpson was guilty? His view of the case seemed to change drastically over time.

In 1996, CNN reported that Robert Kardashian was questioning the court's acquittal of Simpson. He was interviewed by Barbara Walters on ABC's 20-20. Though Kardashian stood by him during the trial,  on that show he admitted he had "doubts that Simpson [was] innocent of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and will say so if called to testify in the upcoming civil trial." He did not go into detail other than saying he had "doubts," but during that interview he did discuss the day Simpson was arrested. Simpson's current legal team has not responded to Romper's request for comment regarding Simpson's alleged involvement in Brown Simpson's murder.

In the show, Kardashian found Simpson in his daughter's bedroom, gun in hand, preparing to kill himself. This moment, which seems very dramatic in the show, is surprisingly taken from real life. Kardashian allegedly begged Simpson not to kill himself, or at least not to do it there. Kardashian said, "He told me at that time, 'I can't live with the pain, the pain is so great.'" He suggested they find another place for him to shoot himself. They went outside, by the pool, and walked around the yard. Kardashian said, "By taking him around the house, I know I saved his life."

In episode one of The People v. O.J. Simpson, Kardashian and Robert Shapiro, Simpson's other lawyer, also appear to doubt his story. They request he take a polygraph test. Simpson fails, or in the words of the test technician, he "flunks." When they tell him the results, he gets angry, defensive, and returns to his litany of innocence. Cuba Gooding, Jr. does a great job conveying how hurt he seems, whether it's calculated or not, that his friends doubt him. It's clear that for someone who seems kind, even those close to Simpson fear him and his quick temper.

Kardashian never said, outright, whether he thought Simpson was guilty or not. Kardashian has since died, so he cannot share his thoughts on the show or the case. But, at the time, he was accused of trying to protect his friend, even by hiding evidence, but the fact that he — one of Simpson's closest confidants and allies — doubted the verdict is very telling.