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Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman: 20 Years Later

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Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman: 20 Years Later

In the evening hours of June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered outside Simpson's home in Los Angeles. The investigation into their deaths quickly pointed to Simpson's ex-husband, retired NFL star O.J. Simpson, and the resulting criminal trial transfixed the nation for 11 months before the jury acquitted Simpson on all charges. At a separate civil trial, a jury found Simpson liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman, awarding $33.5 million to the victims' families.

Often absent in the coverage of the murder investigation and trials are the lives of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman. Most of the ink at the time was spilled on courtroom theatrics and the panoply of larger-than-life characters introduced during the criminal trial. People like Brian "Kato" Kaelin, Robert Kardashian and Johnnie Cochran became household names overnight and leveraged their fame into book deals and television appearances before public attention moved on to the Next Big Thing. Simpson and Goldman were distilled to sound bites, she a former waitress and he an aspiring actor, and defined less by the lives they led than how they died. Separating their lives from the circus that followed is difficult, but not impossible.

According to a story in People from 1994, Simpson was a devoted mother to her children. She reportedly eschewed nannies and "insisted on hands-on mothering, carpooling, shuttling the kids to karate and dance lessons, picking them up daily after school, often followed by a stop at a local Baskin-Robbins." She was also a small-business owner, having opened her own interior design firm, according to her posthumous foundation, NicoleBrown.org. Her family remembers her as an enthusiastic host for holidays and special events who loved to cook and entertain.

In 1994, Simpson met and befriended a young waiter named Ronald Goldman. He was a clean-living gym enthusiast originally from Buffalo Grove, Ill., who, according to a biography written by his family members, volunteered with cerebral palsy patients in his spare time. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1994 that Goldman "had model good looks" and "a magnetic personality," and that the aspiring actor completed emergency medical technician certification not long before his death. According to another Times piece, Goldman dreamed of opening his own restaurant. To pay the bills in the meantime, he worked as a tennis coach and as a waiter at Mezzaluna Trattoria. On the night he was murdered, Goldman was on his way to Simpson's home to return her mother's eyeglasses, which she had lost at Mezzaluna earlier in the day.

Following the civil trial, the family of Simpson set up a foundation in her honor to raise awareness about spousal abuse and provide aid for those being abused. Goldman's family also established a foundation in his memory to "empower, inspire, motivate and assist those people that are victims of crime."

As of June 12, 2014, Simpson is behind bars on unrelated charges from a robbery case. In December 2008 he was sentenced to 33 years in prison, but is eligible for parole in 2017.

Written by Seth Joseph. Find him on Google+.