By Yamiche Alcindor, USA TODAY
A glove at the center of the O.J. Simpson murder trial is back in the headlines after a former prosecutor said the football star's lawyers tampered with it, Reuters reports.
Nearly 17 years after Simpson was acquitted of murder, former Los Angeles deputy district attorney Christopher Darden this week accused the lead defense attorney, the late Johnnie Cochran, of "manipulating" evidence before Simpson's infamous testimony.
Darden claims Cochran tampered with one of the gloves that the prosecution said linked Simpson to the double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
After Simpson struggled to fit the gloves on his hands -- in one of the defining moments of the racially charged 1995 trial that captivated the nation - Cochran famously told the jury, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."
Darden made the tampering claim during a panel discussion about the trial at Pace Law School in New York City, according to Reuters. "I think Johnnie tore the lining," he said. "There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.'s fingers couldn't go all the way up into the glove."
In a later follow-up interview, Darden said he noticed that when Simpson was trying on a glove for the jury its structure appeared to have changed. "A bailiff told me the defense had it during the lunch hour," he said.
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who was a member of Simpson's defense team, and Paul Callan, who represented Nicole Brown Simpson's estate in a successful civil trial against Simpson, told Reuters it was the first time they had ever heard the allegation.
Dershowitz called the claim that the defense had an opportunity to manipulate the gloves "a total fabrication" and said "the defense doesn't get access to evidence except under controlled circumstances."
"Having made the greatest legal blunder of the 20th Century," Dershowitz said of Darden, "he's trying to blame it on the dead man."