How one company simulated the Simpson-Goldman murdersComputer simulations like this one, which aired on CNET 20 years ago, are now commonplace and much more advanced. But back when OJ Simpson was on trial for the Simpson-Goldman murders, this was truly cutting edge.
[SOUND] And now for one of the most advanced recreations ever. Made for what some people call the trial of the century. The OJ Simpson trial. It was commissioned by CNET and created by one of the country's leading teams of legal and scientific experts. To demonstrate some of the awesome power of today's computers, and some of the social implications of that power. Even though it's an animation, some moments of violence may be too graphic for some audiences. Here now, shown for the first time ever, our recreation of the murders of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown-Simpson. [BLANK_AUDIO] At the night of the murder it is very dark in this dirt area. Very dark at the steps. There's almost no illumination. Through an exciting new technology called forensic animation, you will become a silent witness to the brutal murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. A CNet central exclusive. These images were created through a marriage of computer generated animation, motion capture technology, and good detective work. The data came from court records. Scientific measurements taken at the scene by engineers. And special photography. Attorneys in this courtroom have said, it's likely the jury will be show in animation. That means a computer could help determine the verdict. In a moment, we're going to show our dramatic recreation in its entirety. But first, we'd like to introduce you to the People CNet commission to create our groundbreaking animation. Failure Analysis Associates of Menlo Park, California. Dr. Roger McCarthy, Failure Analysis Chief Executive Officer, is an engineer and one of the few experts in the world on recreating evidence using computer animation. It's very significant to us as an organization just because of the notoriety, and I think also the degree of misinformation that has grown up surrounding the murders. Dr. McCarthy is on the board of several national safety advisory councils, and serves as a consultant to the Army science board. It was failure analysis that exposed the attempts by the NBC news program Dateline to rig a gas tank explosion for an investigative report. From the Exxon Valdez disaster to the collapse of a hotel lobby walkway in Kansas City, failure analysis and it's engineers have used cutting edge technology to solve the mysteries behind some of the Biggest disasters in the world. [BLANK_AUDIO] To create this animation, failure analysis engineers had to write a script based on their scientific investigation of what happened. High speed motion capture cameras and computers were then used to log actors' movements. Finally, powerful SGI video and animation computers were put to work to render this animation. It's about as close to time travel as we're ever going to get. You can go back in time and see things as they would have been seen from any vantage point at that time. Limited only by the accuracy of the physical objects you build... Build them in an animation. For years, computer generated images have been used to recreate car and plane crashes and industrial accidents for civil cases ,but in a criminal court, especially in a murder trial, their use if rare and controversial. I didn't know if it would be something laughable, if it would be something useable. I had know idea whether it would work out or not or whether I could do it. Criminal investigator Alexander Jason created the first forensic animation in the country to be used in a murder trial. In 1992 Jim Mitchell was accused of murdering his brother Artie in Corte Madera just north of San Francisco. Here's a man trapped in his bedroom, no gun, doesn't know really what's going on. So he finally sticks his head out to look to see if somebody's still there and he get's shot through the head. And that was a fatal shot. Now all this is very clear when you see it. But when you try to communicate this verbally, it's very confusing. A Marin Country jury eventually convicted Mitchell. Engineers and forensics experts, who were given unprecedented access to the Simpson-Goldman murder scene have assembled this scenario You're seeing an overhead aerial shot of the [INAUDIBLE] drive geometry of this section of town where you can see there's a number of condos side by side. This area's where the murder occurs. In reality, it's covered up with trees. There are steps and a gate and a dirt area beside the front entryway and a patio. But we took the tree out so you could see that. Now we're gonna put the tree in, because the night of the murder, the tree provides incredibly shade and it is extremely dark in this area. At this point, Mr. Goldman comes up to the gate, punches it, and rings the doorbell. Nicole Simpson leaves her condo and she actually leaves her front door ajar to come down and open the gate. There is obviously a speaker phone and she knows who her visitor is. Literally the assailant has to come from the patio area or the physical arrangements of the subjects make no sense. The way he attacks them Immobilizes them both. He hits the right side of Mr. Goldman's face with his left hand. And does so very hard. There is a substantial bruise on the right side of his face. Simultaneously or very soon thereafter, we believe the assailant hits Nicole Simpson on the left side of her face, with the **** of his knife, the pommel. [NOISE] And that knocks her Right side of her head into the wall. We believe that knocks her out, which enables the assailant now to come down and deal with the number one threat. Which is the young, able, and in pretty good shape Mr. Goldman. We postulate that he puts the point of the knife behind Mr. Goldman's head and actually uses the knife like a fork. With his hand over the mouth, To raise Mr. Goldman to his feet. The medical examiner has testified that that wound alone would have been sufficient to kill Mr. Goldman if nothing else had been done to him. It's obvious from the medical evidence that the assailant has a hand over Mr. Goldman's mouth, is having a talk with Mr. Goldman. And is emphasising his points with the knife. The next fatal blow received by Mr. Goldman is a plunge right over his heart, hitting him in the left side of his torso. Another thrust again from the back upwards under the ribcage which is also a fatal thrust. And he takes a final knife blow In this side another fatal would. And we postulate he falls away into the fence. We see abrasion marks down the back of his scalp which we believe is a result of falling down the fence. And then he falls over and that is literally the position he is found by the police the next morning. What Mr. Goldman dealt with, The assailant is now free to turn his attention to Nicole. The assailant uses the same technique to lift her as he does Mr. Goldman. Hand over mouth, most important. It's clear again that the assailant is talking to Nicole Simpson. The reason we know this is before the final fatal cut of her throat, there are three other small cuts on her throat Parallel to where the fatal blow is going to be administered. It's clearly again, torture. The final cut across her throat is going to be delivered with her head cocked substantially back, and the strength in that cut is enormous. And by that I mean she is going to receive a single slice to the front of the throat that is going to be so deep it is going to nick her spinal cord. That requires tremendous strength for a single cut. I don't care how sharp your knife is. The assailant notices he has lost his wool cap. And in the animation, he touches his head. Unlike our animation, which has got enough light level for you to see what's going on, in the real scene this was very, very dark. And it's a dark wool cap. He's trying to feel for the wool cap. He can't anything through the gloves. He has to take the gloves off to feel for the wool cap. By taking off both gloves and not being careful about it, he actually ends up leaving a glove behind and not retrieving the wool cap. We speculate that something disturbed him in his search and cut it short, whether it be a dog barking or some neighbors voice or something. When the investigators arrive, they are going to find Nicole's body in this position, Mr. Goldman's in this one, they are going to find the knit skull cap here. They're going to find a glove very close by it. Mr. Goldman's pager and his keys, are all going to be found in these relative positions. We believe this to be the most detailed reconstruction done to date. We hope it remains the standard by which all other reconstructions are judged by, even by the prosecutions. Of course, an animation from the O.J. Simpson defense team would show a different conclusion. But for this animation failure investigators used evidence presented in court to autopsy reports and detailed data they gathered from the scene of the murders. The medical evidence is literally he most important to establishing this scenario of the crime. The choreography, the movement of the characters through the scene has been driven by, The medical evidence, because the choreography has to produce the wounds, and they have to be produced in a certain order. The hat is found with, I believe, the number is 26 African American hairs in it. There doesn't seem to be any contrary testimony, or even dispute over the hat as belonging to the assailant. So we merely followed the physical evidence in the scene. [SOUND]