How Did Nicole Brown Simpson Die? Cause of Death Revealed in Autopsy

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Three decades after her tragic death, many still want to know the truth behind her murder. So, how did Nicole Brown Simpson die?

Nicole Brown Simpson‘s life was tragically cut short on the night of June 12, 1994. She was found dead outside her home at 875 South Bundy Drive in Brentwood, Los Angeles. Her friend, Ronald Goldman, was also brutally killed. The circumstances surrounding their deaths led to one of the most famous criminal investigations and trials in American history, with Nicole’s ex-husband, OJ Simpson, as its main suspect.

OJ and Nicole had a difficult relationship, marked by years of domestic abuse allegations leading up to their divorce in 1992. Evidence collected at the scene, including a bloody glove and shoe prints, along with OJ’s history of abusive behavior towards Nicole, had all signs pointing toward the former football player as the culprit behind the murders.

On June 17, 1994, a warrant was issued for OJ Simpson’s arrest. But instead of surrendering, OJ led police on a car chase through Los Angeles in a white Ford Bronco. This chase, which was broadcasted live on national television, ended with OJ’s arrest at his home in Brentwood. The media frenzy that followed was unprecedented, turning the case into a national spectacle. Dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” OJ’s legal battle would last for over eight months and included evidence from the prosecution explaining how Nicole Brown Simpson died.

How did Nicole Brown Simpson die?

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson
Image: Getty Images.Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

The evening of June 12, 1994, started pretty uneventfully for Nicole Brown Simpson. She had attended a dance recital for her daughter, Sydney, earlier that day. Later, she went to the Mezzaluna Trattoria restaurant in Brentwood to have dinner with family and friends. Ronald Goldman, a waiter at the restaurant, was a friend of Nicole’s. After dinner, she returned home, where her two children with OJ, Sydney and Justin, were sleeping inside.

Around 10:15 PM local time, neighbors reported hearing the sounds of a dog barking loudly. This was the first indication that something was wrong. At approximately 12:10 AM, Nicole’s body was discovered by a neighbor. She was lying on the walkway leading to her front door, covered in blood, with multiple stab wounds inflicted on her body. Ronald Goldman’s body was found nearby, also suffering from numerous stab wounds.

What was Nicole Brown Simpson’s cause of death?

The autopsy reports for Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman provided detailed insights into their deaths. Nicole had been stabbed multiple times in the head and neck. The most severe wound was a deep, gaping cut across her throat that was determined to be the fatal injury. This wound was so severe that it almost decapitated her, severing both her carotid artery and jugular vein, leading to massive blood loss and her immediate death.

In addition to these neck wounds, Nicole had several defensive wounds on her hands, indicating that she had tried to fend off her attacker. There were also blunt force injuries to her head, suggesting she had been struck multiple times before or during the stabbing.

Ronald Goldman also suffered multiple stab wounds, with the majority being in his neck, chest, and abdomen. He had numerous defensive wounds on his hands and arms, showing that he had also fought against his attacker. The autopsy revealed that Goldman had been stabbed at least 25 times, with many of the wounds penetrating vital organs and causing significant internal bleeding.

What happened during the OJ Simpson trial?

Image: Getty Images.

Officially known as People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson, the OJ Simpson trial started on January 24, 1995, and stretched until October 3, 1995. The case was unique, not only because of its high-profile defendant but also due to the complex mix of legal strategies, racial tensions, and the relentless media coverage it attracted.

The prosecution team, led by Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, built their case around a mountain of physical evidence and a history of domestic abuse between O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson. One of the cornerstones of their argument was the DNA evidence. Blood samples found at the crime scene, on OJ’s Bronco, and at his residence matched the profiles of both Nicole and Ronald Goldman. This DNA evidence was presented as solid proof of OJ’s presence at the crime scene.

Another crucial piece of evidence was a blood-soaked leather glove found at OJ’s property. The prosecution argued that this glove matched another found at the crime scene, directly linking OJ to the murders. Additionally, bloody shoe prints at the scene were identified as coming from a rare and expensive pair of Bruno Magli shoes. Despite OJ initially denying that he owned these shoes, photographs later surfaced showing him wearing them. The prosecution also emphasized OJ’s documented history of violence towards Nicole, presenting 911 calls and witness testimonies recounting previous incidents of abuse. They argued that this pattern of behavior culminated in the tragic events of June 12, 1994.

On the other side, OJ’s defense team, featuring legal heavyweights like Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran, and Robert Kardashian, launched a strong defense. Their strategy focused on discrediting the prosecution’s evidence. They challenged the DNA evidence, questioning the LAPD’s handling and testing procedures and raising doubts about possible contamination. A central theme of their defense was the accusation of racial bias and police misconduct. They pointed to Detective Mark Fuhrman, who found key evidence, suggesting he was a racist who planted evidence to frame OJ. Fuhrman’s credibility was severely damaged when tapes surfaced of him using racial slurs and making derogatory statements about Black people.

Image: Getty Images.Lee Celano/WireImage

One of the most unforgettable moments of the trial came when OJ tried on the infamous glove found at the crime scene. The glove appeared too tight, leading Cochran to famously declare, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” This demonstration aimed to cast serious doubt on the prosecution’s narrative. The defense also floated alternative theories, suggesting the murders could have been drug-related or committed by someone else with a motive to harm Nicole and Goldman.

After months of dramatic testimony, cross-examinations, and legal maneuvering, the jury delivered a verdict of not guilty on October 3, 1995. This decision shocked many and highlighted deep racial divides in the United States. For some, the verdict was seen as a victory against a racially biased legal system, while others viewed it as a major miscarriage of justice. The case also sparked discussions about the reliability of forensic evidence and the role of the media in shaping public opinion.

In 1997, a civil jury later found O.J. Simpson liable for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, awarding their families $33.5 million in damages. Unlike the criminal trial, this civil trial did not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, leading to a different outcome. Years later, OJ was also convicted of armed robbery in Las Vegas after leading five men, including two with guns, in a confrontation with sports collectibles dealers at a casino hotel. He served nine years in prison before being released in 2017. The former NFL star died after a battle with prostate cancer in April 2024.

For more about Nicole Brown Simpson, you can read OJ Simpson’s 2008 memoir, If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer
. Written by OJ and told in his own words, the book takes readers through the former NFL star’s infamous murder trial after the brutal 1995 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, at her home in Brentwood, California. In the book, Simpson reveals how he would have committed the murders, under the pretense that his confession was “hypothetical.” A new edition of the book was published in 2007 and included essays written by members of the Goldman family, a member of the Goldman family legal team, and Simpson’s ghostwriter, revealing more details about the murder trial and his legal issues after Brown and Goldman’s murder. Journalist Barbara Walters described the memoir as “one of the most chilling things I have ever read.”

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