Robert Shapiro Admits Trying on Gloves in O.J. Simpson Trial

Image: Simpson Cochran Shapiro Magnera
Robert Shapiro (left) with attorney Johnnie L. Cochran and O.J. Simpson on Jan. 5, 1995, in Los Angeles Superior Court.REED SAXON / AP file

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By Erik Ortiz

Robert Shapiro slipped on the infamous gloves that were key evidence in the murder trial against O.J. Simpson in order to determine if they would fit the former football player, the high-powered attorney admitted in a rare interview Tuesday.

The revelation was one of many made by Shapiro, 73, whose role as a member of Simpson's defense "dream team" helped to acquit the once-beloved sports idol in the stabbings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1994.

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"I tried the glove on. It was a little bit wide in my palm and a little bit long in my fingers," Shapiro told Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. "O.J. Simpson has enormous hands, and I knew that the glove would not fit him. No question about it. Wouldn't even be close."

Interest in the sensational "trial of the century" was drummed up again this year by an FX miniseries, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story." In one scene, Shapiro (played by John Travolta) tries on the leather gloves during a courtroom break — an act to which the attorney had never explicitly admitted in past interviews.

Related: 20 Years Later, Marcia Clark Blames Herself for Verdict

The question of whether Shapiro — or anyone else on the defense — may have worn the actual gloves at some point during the trial was raised by former Los Angeles deputy district attorney Christopher Darden.

Darden in 2012 accused another defense lawyer, the late Johnnie Cochran, of "manipulating" the gloves and possibly tampering with evidence. One of the gloves was found at the crime scene, while the other was discovered behind Simpson's estate in the tony Brentwood, Los Angeles, neighborhood.

Robert Shapiro (left) with attorney Johnnie L. Cochran and O.J. Simpson on Jan. 5, 1995, in Los Angeles Superior Court.REED SAXON / AP file

"I think Johnnie tore the lining," Darden said during a panel discussion in New York City about the trial, according to Reuters. "There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.'s fingers couldn't go all the way up into the glove."

Simpson at the trial was wearing latex gloves when the prosecution had him try on the leather glove; he struggled to pull the evidence comfortably over his hand. That led Cochran to utter the iconic line, "If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit" — a turning point for the defense in the long-winding trial.

Related: Knife Found on O.J. Simpson's Estate Ruled Out as Murder Weapon

Kelly also asked Shapiro what it felt like to try on apparel that might have been worn by a killer.

"That is a very compelling question that I've never even thought about, and we'd looked at that glove, every expert had looked at that glove. It did have stains on it, did have certain cuts on it," Shapiro said. "I didn't consider it, but, it's kind of an eerie thought when you say that."

Shapiro also revealed to Kelly what Simpson whispered to him when the jury found him not guilty of the murders in 1995: "You told me this would be the result from the beginning. You were right."

The attorney did rebuke Simpson for his reaction after his acquittal, when he was caught smiling and laughing.

"I thought it was inappropriate," Shapiro said. "Two people are dead and there should still be some respect, certainly for his ex-wife."

Simpson has remained in prison for his role in a Las Vegas armed robbery in 2007, although he will be eligible for parole next year after nine years behind bars.

When it comes to his murder trial, Simpson deserved to get off based on the evidence, Shapiro added.

"If you look at it from a moral point of view, a lot of people would say he absolutely did it. I deal in legal justice ... and that's proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Shapiro said. "And there's no question in my mind that any fair juror who saw that case from the beginning to the end would conclude there was reasonable doubt."