A mug shot, two gravestones, a smile. The trial can be reduced to these emblems. Or to entries in a specialized gazetteer: Rockingham, Bundy, Brentwood. A bestiary: barking dog, white Bronco, blond Kato. Names on a list: Marcia and Johnnie, Darden and Shapiro, Fung, Lee, Scheck, Ito, Fuhrman. A weird alphabet: DNA, O.J., A.C., L.A.P.D., the N word. All are signposts to a greater geography, one uneasily contained on the premises of the California Superior Court. Television viewers saw the proceedings and were captured by the legal dramatics; and yet there were always hints of unseen details and untold tales. In the 474 days between the arrest and the release of O.J. Simpson, TIME's reporters and correspondents attended confidential sessions, debriefing the principals; once the verdict was delivered, the major players cast even greater light on the drama's hidden plots. Now the story behind the scenes can be revealed, providing deeper insight into courtroom strategies, missteps and triumphs, making manifest invisible animosities. There is O.J. Simpson, angry at a bad turn in his trial, lashing out at his would-be defenders, laying out instructions as he marches about the room in manacles; Judge Ito, weighed down by petty concerns, summoning lawyers to revel in his celebrity; Christopher Darden and Johnnie Cochran fuming privately over their public spats; the juror who talked about the flaws in the prosecution's case and the sacrifices she and her colleagues made during the nine-month ordeal; the police officers, including a duo nicknamed "Dumb and Dumber," who fell short in their jobs. Here are the tales that help illuminate the trial that transfixed a nation.
THE PHONE RINGS
EARLY IN THE MORNING OF JUNE 13, 1994, the phone rang in the home of Marcia Clark. She immediately recognized the voice on the other end. It was Detective Philip Vannatter of the L.A.P.D., reporting a double murder and requesting the deputy district attorney's help in obtaining a warrant to search a suspect's home. To Clark it all seemed routine, if gruesome, until she heard one specific detail. "God," she said, "sounds like a pretty tony address for this kind of thing."
"Marcia," said Vannatter, "It's O.J. Simpson."
"The football player? Naked Gun?"
"Phil," she said. "I'm sorry. I don't know him."
Vannatter went on, enumerating more reasons for a search warrant: blood on the door handle of Simpson's white Bronco, blood on the driveway at his Rockingham mansion, the bloody glove found by Vannatter's junior associate, Mark Fuhrman.
"Jesus," said Clark, "It sounds like you've got enough for filing [an arrest warrant], much less a search warrant."