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Goldman family still struggles with murder

For them, even the word "anniversary" doesn't seem to compute. It's too nice a term to mark such brutal murders. Fred and Kim Goldman are a father and sister still devastated by their loss and determined to keep Ron's memory alive.
Kim and Fred Goldman
Kim and Fred GoldmanDateline NBC
/ Source: Dateline NBC

There are some who don't need an anniversary to remember what happened 10 years ago in June, some who've thought about Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman every single day since then: their families. For them, even the word "anniversary" doesn't seem to compute. It's too nice a term to mark such brutal murders. Fred and Kim Goldman are a father and sister still devastated by their loss and determined to keep Ron's memory alive.

Kim Goldman: "Everyday we walk out of the room, and then down the stairs of my home there's a picture of my brother and I, and I stop and talk about Uncle Ron… just point him out, make sure that Sammy recognizes his face."

Stone Phillips: "Everyday?"

Kim Goldman: "Yeah, everyday."

Phillips: "So he's there, in a way?"

Kim Goldman: "Uh-huh."

If he were alive today, he'd have been Uncle Ron. In the ten years since Ron Goldman was murdered, his younger sister Kim, now 32, has married and had a baby. She named her son Samuel Ronald, for the uncle he will never meet.

Kim Goldman: "It makes me really sad because my brother and I promised that we were going to raise our kids together. And so I could just picture the smile on his face just every time he sees him. And just thinking that it's so cool that he has a little boy in his life. And you know, at this point my brother maybe would have had a child of his own. And so, it would have been pretty tremendous to be around that."

Phillips: "Fred, do you see Ron when you look at your grandson?

Fred Goldman: "The answer is yes. I continually am reminded about what Sammy will miss and of course, therefore, what Ron will miss."

For Kim and her father, 63-year-old Fred Goldman, their loss still seems like yesterday. The media frenzy over of the O.J. Simpson case has given way to the more manageable routine of everyday life, but "normal" is not a word they use to describe life without Ron.

Phillips: "Over the past 10 years there have been a lot of moments in your family to celebrate: your wedding, the birth of your son. Have the happy times helped ease some of the grief?"

Kim Goldman: "No, not for me."

Fred Goldman: "No."

Kim Goldman: "My brother was supposed to walk me down the aisle along with my father. That was always what we were going to do. You know, the awesome trio. And so the day of my wedding my brother—"

Phillips: "Wasn't there."

Kim Goldman: "My brother wasn't there to tease me, to kid me, to tell me I looked beautiful, to wish me luck, to shake the hand of the man I was going to spend my life with, to say, ‘That's my little sister.’ You know, like there wasn't any of that."

Phillips: "But is it possible to find some peace with it?"

Fred Goldman: "I think at least for me, it's a matter of learning how to deal with it. It's almost forcing yourself not to be crazy."

Phillips: "Do you hold onto Kim a little tighter do you think?"

Fred Goldman: "Probably."

Phillips: "Having lost Ron?"

Kim Goldman: "And I hold onto him that much tighter too."

The Goldmans remember Ron as he was in 1994. He was just 25 years old, single and loving life in Los Angeles. Friends and family describe the aspiring actor and part-time model, as a free spirit with a big heart, who often volunteered his time to work with people with disabilities.

On the night of June 12, Ron was finishing his shift waiting tables at an L.A. eatery, when he offered to return a pair of eye glasses to his friend, Nicole Brown Simpson.

No one knows exactly what happened, but it appears that Ron arrived at 875 South Bundy just as Nicole was being attacked.  According to the coroner's report, the number and type of wounds Ron suffered suggest he struggled fiercely to stop the knife-wielding assailant.

Fred Goldman: "I'm convinced to this day that the words that witness heard of, ‘Hey, hey, hey,’ were in fact Ron, walking in, walking down that walkway and seeing Nicole being hit. I'm convinced that it was Ron. And Ron did not run the other way."

Phillips: "That's something he would have said, something he would have done?"

Fred Goldman: "Yeah. He jumped into what was going on. And it cost him his life."

When the news hit the airwaves that O.J. Simpson's ex-wife had been murdered, the Goldman's had no clue that the "unidentified man" found lying near Nicole was Ron. The coroner's office called to break the news to Fred and his wife Patty, Ron's stepmother.

Fred Goldman: "It was like a-- someone took a two by four and hit me across the head. Patty and I were just standing in the kitchen hugging one another, crying. And then the next thing was, ‘Oh my God, how do we tell Kim?’ And Kim called and it was the hardest thing in my life I've ever had to do."

Kim Goldman: "I was just spiraling down into this just awful, ugly, wretched scream. It was just gut-wrenching."

Fred Goldman: "It was beyond anybody's kind of comprehension."

From the moment they learned Ron was murdered, the Goldmans’ lives were turned upside down. Ron's name and photo were everywhere, as were the grisly details of the murders. And looming over it all was the inescapable question: Was O.J. Simpson the killer??

Fred Goldman: "We didn't automatically take the position that because he's arrested therefore he's guilty. We want to know for sure."

Phillips: "You kept an open mind?"

Kim Goldman: "Because it—"

Fred Goldman: "Surprising as I think about it now—"

Kim Goldman: "Uh-huh."

Fred Goldman: "--It's amazing that we consciously talked about keeping an open mind."

Kim Goldman: "It wasn't until the DNA that I think all of us kind of came to it. When they put that flip chart up and they went down, boom, boom, boom. Y'know, that the DNA on the sock, the hair fibers on the cap…"

The Goldmans sat through the entire nine-month trial, and to them the evidence of Simpson's guilt was overwhelming: Nicole's blood on his socks, her blood and Ron's in Simpson's Bronco, Simpson's blood at the crime scene, and that that famous bloody glove found in his yard.

But Simpson's defense team chipped away at the prosecution's case. Johnny Cochran accused investigators of a "rush to judgment" and sloppy police work, arguing that the crime scene was compromised, evidence contaminated, and suggesting, that members of the LAPD had conspired to frame his African-American client.

Phillips: "In the end, race seemed to overshadow everything."

Fred Goldman: "Well, it came to that because Cochran and his team, played the card. Now, I'm not suggesting for a moment that race problems haven't existed and don't exist in this country, to this day. But they had no place in that courtroom."

Phillips: "Kim, you audibly gasped when the verdict was read."

Kim Goldman: "I was shocked. I just-- I couldn't-- I just couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe it."

Fred Goldman: "I was stunned, I mean, I couldn't grasp the notion that 12 people who heard the exact same evidence that I heard…"

Kim Goldman: "and the rest of the country."

Fred Goldman: "And the rest of the world heard could possibly have been influenced by that B.S.

that went on in the courtroom."

Phillips: "Where do you think the case was lost?"

Fred Goldman: "I have, since the verdict, placed a good chunk of the blame one place. And that's with the judge."

Phillips: "Lance Ito."

Fred Goldman: "Lance Ito. He allowed that courtroom to become a circus. He allowed Cochran to take control of the courtroom. He allowed all of the baloney to be part and parcel of that case: He allowed racism, he allowed planting of evidence, he allowed all of that stuff."

Fifteen months after the criminal trial, Simpson was back in court. The Goldmans and Nicole's family had filed a civil suit against him.

Phillips: "How different was the civil trial experience for you?"

Fred Goldman: "It was so diametrically opposed to one another."

Unlike the criminal trial, defense attorneys in the civil case were barred from raising the issue of racism or a possible police conspiracy without hard evidence to support such claims. And because the rules are different in a civil trial, in this proceeding Simpson was required to take the stand.

Under tough questioning from the Goldman's Attorney, Dan Petrocelli, Simpson was caught in what appeared to be a number of blatant lies. 

Kim Goldman: "I know that Dan was charged after that. And he would come out of that room, ‘Did you see him squirm? Did you see his face when I got him in that lie?’ I mean, you felt that, because he finally, as arrogant as the killer is, he finally got him talking and knowing now, even, when he does interviews he talks and just rambles."

Fred Goldman: "Shoots his mouth off and gets himself in trouble."

Kim Goldman: "Weird things come out of his mouth, and so to actually see Dan go after him and nail him, you know, that was kind of fun, actually."

The civil trial lasted just three months, and this time, the jury found that  Simpson was responsible for the deaths of Ron and Nicole. he was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.

Phillips: "Did the verdict in a civil case restore your faith in the legal system?"

Fred Goldman: "I don't know about restore. I think for us it was just a matter of finally getting a court to acknowledge that this monster had murdered two people. That he was responsible."

Kim Goldman: "People ask if we feel vindicated. I don't know that I've ever felt—"

Fred Goldman: "No."

Kim Goldman: "--vindicated from that. There was like a millisecond that I thought, ‘Yeah!’ And then bam, it was over."

Fred Goldman: "Finally got a legal courtroom to indicate that he was responsible."

Kim Goldman: "We've always said, and I still feel in the true essence of why we went after him for the civil case. It was never about the money, but at this point, for me it kind of has become that in the sense that, that's all I can take from him. And not that I care about the dollars, but for me it's like, you know, I want to paralyze him, you know?"

Fred Goldman: "Take something away from him."

Kim Goldman: "Take something away from him."

But mostly, the Goldmans focus on giving, as a way of paying tribute to Ron's memory. Fred, a salesman now living in Phoenix, has devoted himself to working for victim's rights, actively lobbying for new laws and greater protections for people affected by violent crime.

In addition to being a wife and new mother, Kim is the director of the California office  of "Best Buddies", an organization that pairs mentally challenged kids with mentors. They both told us their advocacy work makes them feel more connected to Ron.

Kim shared a little story that said a lot about the kind of person Ron was, and the quiet way he gave to others.

Kim Goldman: "My brother was doing some volunteer work for some people with cerebral palsy, and would take some of the clients out , and he took them to McDonald's one day and the cashier behind the counter just kept saying to my brother, ‘What does she want for lunch? What do you think she's going to want to have?’ And he said, ‘I don't know, why don't you ask her.’ He treated them with dignity. And he being a friend to somebody and treating someone with respect and with just having no inhibitions about their disability or their whatever it might be just really makes a difference. So everyday when I go to work, I take a little bit of that with me and think."

Phillips: "He personified that."

Kim Goldman: "Yeah."

Phillips: "Ron was doing a good deed, returning a pair of glasses, when he was murdered.  What's his legacy?"

Fred Goldman: "Ron was a wonderful young man, a caring, loving sensitive young man. His legacy is that he'll always be remembered. I'm touched and saddened all at the same time when I'm occasionally --someone will come up to me and say to me, ‘You’re Ron's dad?’ Not, ‘Are you Fred Goldman?’ ‘Are you Ron's dad?’ And my answer is immediately yes. I am proud to know that he is remembered for, for being someone who cared."