Photographer’s Image of O.J. Simpson in Gloves Became Significant Years Later

Photographer's photo thst became important in OJ case
A still of O.J. Simpson wearing gloves for an NBC post-game interview in 1991 (left) that would become important in the murder trial of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1995 (right)

A photographer, who innocently shot an image of O.J. Simpson in gloves after a football match, later found himself embroiled at the center of the infamous murder trial that riveted the world years later.

Football star O.J. Simpson — who was notoriously acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in a 1995 trial that became one of the most-watched popular culture events of the last century — died on Thursday.

Nicole Brown and Goldman were stabbed to death at her Los Angeles home in June 1994 and police found a pair of blood-stained gloves at the crime scene which they believed to have been worn by the killer.

This pair of bloody gloves went on to become part of the most visually memorable moment of Simpson’s entire murder trial.

During the trial, Simpson was asked to try on the gloves but he struggled to fit his hands into them, and appeared to be small for the football player.

This courtroom glove fitting ended up being crucial to Simpson not being found guilty of the double murder and the enduring motto by his lead defense attorney Jonnie Cochran that: “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit”.

Several years earlier, on January 6. 1991, sports photographer Bill Renken took 16 photos of Simpson wearing gloves as he interviewed Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason and head coach Sam Wyche after a game.

Little did Renken know that his images of Simpson in a pair of gloves would see the photographer thrust into the national spotlight and called to the witness stand in the so-called “Trial of the Century.”

A Photo of O.J. Simpson Wearing Gloves at Center of Murder Trial

In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday, Renken recalled the “nuts” experience of being called to a Los Angeles witness stand in the late Simpson’s murder trial over the photos.

Renken was a local photographer in Cincinnati, Ohio, specializing in sports photography when he took the photos of Simpson interviewing the Cinninicati Bengals quarterback and coach after the team had won a playoff game, beating the Houston Oilers.

Understandably, Renken could never have realized the significance of the photos he shot of Simpson that day. The photographer tells the Cincinnati Enquirer that it seemed like he was shooting a typical postgame interview.

However, Simpson, who at the time was a broadcaster for NBC, happened to be wearing designer gloves during the interview.

Years later, authorities prosecuting Simpson for the murder of Nicole Brown and Goldman found that the size and color of the gloves in the photos seemed similar to the bloody glove found at the crime scene. Renken was one of several photographers subpoenaed to testify in the trial.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, lead prosecutor Marcia Clark and other members of the prosecution briefed Renken.

Renken says that as he took the stand, he noticed the anguish on the faces of Goldman’s family. He looked at the defense table and there was Simpson.

“O.J.’s smiling like, you know, I looked at him, he looked at me,” Renken recalls.

“He’s like, no big deal. He was kind of brushing it off. You know, because he had the dream team.”

Renken says that throughout his 46-minute testimony, Simpson’s defense tried to trip him up, asking about the photo and saying the wrong teams.

On the flight back, the photographer says he was treated as a celebrity — a man asked for his autograph and the pilots wanted to meet him.

Of course, the glove didn’t fit and Simpson was acquitted. Renken still shoots sports photos, mostly for local schools in the western suburbs of Cincinnati, and he keeps a framed copy of his photo signed by Simpson’s lead attorney Cochran.

“It’s a great conversation piece for an unfortunate situation,” the photographer says.