Romper

How Did O.J. Simpson Hurt His Finger? His Story Changed

Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The prosecution team in the O.J. Simpson murder trial thought that they were guaranteed a victory in the case because of the huge pile of evidence they had to support their side. However, a lot of that evidence was misinterpreted, explained away by the defense, or simply slipped by unaddressed. One such piece of evidence were cuts Simpson had on his hand that some thought were injuries gained while committing the murders, which he was found not guilty for. The defense didn't see it that way. How did O.J. Simpson hurt his finger?

Simpson's account of the injury changed several times. He told the police that he could not remember how he injured it, that he had perhaps done so in his rush to get out of his house and catch his flight to Chicago on the night of the murders. Then he said that after being informed of Nicole Brown Simpson's death while in his hotel in Chicago, he threw a glass and that injured his hand — or re-injured it, as the defense would later say. However, there was no blood found on the glass in his hotel room, just on the sheets and on a hand towel. At one point, Simpson also said he could have gotten some of the cuts while wrestling with his son.

REED SAXON/AFP/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 17: O.J. Simpson (2nd R) points to the video screen with his defense team of (L-R) Carl Douglas, Johnnie Cochran Jr., Simpson and Robert Shapiro sit around him as Los Angeles Police Detective Philip Vannatter testifies 17 March during the in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Vannatter is one of the lead investigators in the double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. (COLOR KEY: Wall is brown) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read REED SAXON/AFP/Getty Images)

During the trial, Robert Shapiro attributed the swelling of Simpson's finger to an old injury he'd had for years — one of the myriad aches and pains a football player could accrue over time. He even had Simpson show his swollen finger to the jury to try and convince them that it simply looked like that at all times. Much like Simpson trying on the glove, this demonstration was inconclusive. It happened after he had already injured it, after all. The jury couldn't really know what it had looked like through the years.

However, during Simpson's civil trial, a forensic pathologist named Dr. Werner Spitz put forth the theory that the cuts on Simpson's hand were defensive wounds gained when Nicole and Ron Goldman tried to fight back during the attack. Dr. Spitz said that the wounds were unlikely to be caused by a knife or by glass; due to the size and appearance of the cuts (which were described as "jagged," whereas a sharp cut from glass would generally have smooth edges), Spitz claimed that they could be fingernail marks.

The question of the cuts came up multiple times during Simpson's civil trial, such as when his friend Leroy "Skip" Taft contradicted his own testimony about them. In a deposition, he said he had seen two cuts on Simpson's hand, but while on the stand he backed up Simpson's story and said he'd seen only one.

POOL/AFP/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 1: Murder defendant O.J. Simpson (2nd R) stands up with his attorneys Robert Shapiro (R), Johnnie Cochran Jr. (2nd L) and Carl Douglas (L) 01 February 1995 as the jury enters following a ruling by Judge Lance Ito to allow ex-police officer and friend of Simpson, Donald Shipp, to testify about a conversation he had with Simpson the day after the murders of Nicole Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. (COLOR KEY: Brown wall). AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)

Simpson was convicted in the civil trial of being responsible for the wrongful deaths of Nicole and Goldman, even though he was acquitted in the criminal trial. Perhaps it was because the media circus had quieted down slightly, or because the verdict of the criminal trial was so controversial. Either way, the different ways the evidence was presented to the jury clearly resulted in different outcomes.