One of the most iconic moments of the Trial of the Century came when O.J. Simpson struggled to put on a pair of shrunken bloody gloves found at the crime scene where the NFL star’s ex-wife and her friend were brutally murdered.
Despite DNA evidence prosecutors believe linked Simpson to the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, many believe the bloody glove episode clinched the case for the defense – especially when Simpson’s lead attorney, Johnny Cochran, famously said, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
But prosecutor Christopher Darden, who tried Simpson along with lead prosecutor Marcia Clark, tells PEOPLE the case was “lost way before this.”
“I don’t think they did not fit,” Darden, now 60, says. “But it was a great visual for the defense and it was a great piece of acting by O.J.”
While Darden says he doesn t know how the moment impacted jurors, he publicly took the brunt of the blame for the decision to have Simpson try them on. But now, he says, “There’s more to the story” behind the decision to have Simpson try on the gloves.
Though he would not reveal additional details, he tells PEOPLE, “Two people [other than him] know – and one knows better than the other.”
“What happened with the glove thing – why it was done, when it was done, whose decision it was to do it, and what the thinking was behind it – what everybody has seen and heard is the generic point of view,” he says.
“I took responsibility for it. Nobody else has to. My decision. That is the official record that I’ve created. And that’s fine.”
He adds, “I suppose I’ll be taking that story to my grave along with a lot of other things. There’s no point in saying any more about it.”
Despite the verdict, Darden says, “To this day, I am a true believer that he is guilty.” He adds, “I saw the evidence for myself.”
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Darden chronicled his experiences from the sensational trial in his bestselling 1996 book, In Contempt.
But after being portrayed in the hit FX series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, which focused largely on the lives of the attorneys involved, Darden is concerned about how he will be remembered – especially since he questions the series’ accuracy.
“If I died tomorrow, the last thing people will ever hear about me is what was in the miniseries,” he says. “That matters to me. It’s important to me because it’s going to be important to my children and grandchildren.”
‘It Was a Dirty, Dirty Trial’
One of the most poignant moments of the case came when Darden broke down after the verdict during a press conference, leaving the podium to hug Fred Goldman, the father of Ronald Goldman.
“I was very emotional and it was really hard for me to look at them,” he says. “I had always stood up for victims and I had always done well. I recognized how painful it is to lose a loved one to homicide.
“But you know, part of it was knowing how heartbroken they were and how much they had endured and that I contributed to the failure of the case.”
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When he reluctantly headed to the podium after the verdict, he says he got upset because “I had been holding a lot inside for a long time, controlling my temper and keeping my composure and holding my tongue even though so much of what happened in that case was so outrageous and so over the top. It was so offensive to me. We turned that whole thing into a soap opera. How could we do this?
“Two people are dead, two families are devastated and the whole thing is corrupt. It was a dirty, dirty trial.
“You have to wonder how anybody could get justice in a situation like that.”
While people still ask Darden about Simpson, he says, “I don t think about him as much as I think about Ron and Nicole. I have had an angel pin [from the trial] sitting on my desk for the last 22 years.”