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Christopher Darden on O.J. Simpson 2006 Interview: ‘He Confessed to Murder’

In the view of prosecutor Christopher Darden, O.J. Simpson confesses to the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in his 2006 TV interview that aired Sunday night as a two-hour special on Fox, 12 years after a public outcry forced the network to scrap an earlier plan to air the incendiary footage.

In the 2006 interview with publisher Judith Regan, Simpson goes through a “purely hypothetical” discussion of what happened on the night his ex-wife and Goldman were murdered on the steps of Nicole Simpson’s Brentwood condo. Simpson was acquitted of the double murders by a jury in 1995 after an 11-month trial that set the modern template for a media circus.

The bizarre 2006 interview features Simpson speaking in detail, albeit couched as a hypothetical, about his being present at the crime scene in June 1994, how he disposed of bloody clothes and other specifics of his actions following the brutal slayings. He repeatedly laughed nervously while discussing the shocking crime.

Darden was featured on the special, “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?” as part of a panel of experts who added commentary and analysis intercut with sections of the 2006 interview. Moderator Soledad O’Brien emphasized that Simpson was not paid by contemporary producers of the special.

During the interview, Simpson appears at times delusional, saying that he went to Nicole’s condo on the night she died with a friend he described as “Charlie,” who gave him a knife as he encountered Nicole and later Ron Goldman.

“I think he’s confessed to murder. If I’d know he said this in 2006 I would not have objected to the release of this video,” Darden said. “I don’t think there’s any question of his involvement and that he is the person who is wielding the knife.”

Darden was among those whose objections forced Fox to table its plan to air the interview in 2006. It was meant to coincide with the publication via Fox’s HarperCollins unit of a book by Simpson, “If I Did It,” in which he detailed his “hypothetical” actions on the night of the murder. But the outrage led to Fox yanking both projects and company chieftain Rupert Murdoch issuing a public apology. The book was later published with proceeds claimed by the Goldman family as part of a verdict in the family’s civil lawsuit against Simpson.

Simpson in the interview details what he describes as reports from friends that Nicole had become involved in drugs and “sex parties” with fast-living female friends. He tells Regan that he blamed Nicole’s death on the unsavory people he claims were associated with Nicole.

Regan was also part of the panel. She maintained she did not challenge Simpson on his statements because she wanted to keep him talking about the murders. She said Simpson told her that he agreed to speak in hypothetical terms “to maintain deniability with the children.” Regan told the panel that the interview “absolutely” convinced her that he was the murder. “There’s no doubt in my mind,” she said.

Darden, Regan, Nicole Simpson’s longtime friend Eve Shakti Chen, a domestic violence expert and an FBI profiler parsed Simpson’s statements about his relationship with Nicole. In the same breath that Simpson admits to “getting physical” with Nicole during an argument, yet he also expresses his frustration that he’s now considered “a batterer.”

Fox ran a public service announcement for the National Domestic Violence Hotline during each commercial break in the two-hour special. Few blue-chip advertisers sponsored the program.

The Simpson murder case has been heavily revisited in the past few years through FX’s acclaimed miniseries “The People V. O.J. Simpson” and the 10-part ESPN documentary “O.J.: Made in America.” Fox executives maintain that they made the decision to air the 2006 interview footage after receiving the approval of Nicole Simpson’s family and the Goldman family.

Simpson became a pariah even after the acquittals. He wound up serving nine years in prison for an armed robbery conviction in connection with a 2007 incident in Las Vegas. He was paroled in October.

The special closed with images of Nicole Simpson, Ron Goldman and a final shot of O.J. Simpson’s mug shot from his June 1994 arrest.

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