O.J. Simpson vs. Steven Avery: Is there a difference?

Ray Bressette

For the past three months, Netflix watchers and true crime lovers have been engulfed in the hit Netflix series, “Making a Murderer.”

The documentary explores the story of a Wisconsin man imprisoned for a murder on seemingly shaky evidence, leaving many to believe him
innocent and causing a public uproar.

Coincidentally, earlier this month FX premiered its newest drama series, which is based on the most famous murder trial of all time, the 1994 killing of NFL Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, in the hit show “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.”

Both cases theorize that police corruption and tamperedwith DNA evidence led to the arrest of possibly innocent men.

While the public has drastically different opinions about the two cases, the
argument can be made there’s not much difference between them. In “Making a Murderer”
viewers learn the story of
Steven Avery, a Manitowoc County, Wisc. man who spent 18 years in prison for a wrongful conviction of rape before his 2003 release.

Upon his release, Avery filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the county for not
pursuing other leads in the case.

As the depositions were wrapping up in the civil lawsuit, Avery was arrested and convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

The documentary, however, explores the possibility of police corruption, with theories that DNA and other evidence was planted to put Avery back in prison.

The case has striking resemblances to when O.J. Simpson was tried for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and Goldman.

When the murder took place in the mid-1990s, the LAPD was in the midst of a racial struggle with the controversial handling of the Rodney King trial and similar cases.

So when O.J., the famous African American athlete, was accused of murder by the same police, the trial took the
country by storm.

With the investigator’s series of events, handling of evidence and racial prejudices, along with the famous black glove that brought about the phrase “If it doesn’t fit, you must
acquit,” O.J.’s defense team also gathered an argument that police corruption framed him  for murder.

In both cases, there were amounts of evidence stacked against the accused murders we have not looked into.

But while both cases have
substantial evidence for reasonable doubt, Avery was
convicted of first-degree murder, while O.J. was found not guilty, yet based on media
portrayals the overall public disagrees with both outcomes.

Over the past two decades, numerous documentaries and publications have been
produced trying to convince the world O.J. is a murderer, and the general consensus has been he walked away from the crime committed a free man.

Meanwhile, “Making a Murderer” has many believing Avery was wrongfully convicted of a felony he did not commit for a second time. Numerous petitions have been organized with the hope Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker or President Barack Obama will pardon him.

These are clear cases that we allow the media to shape our opinions rather than forming them ourselves.

While you might protest Avery’s innocence, do you know the full grounds for his conviction?

If you think O.J. is guilty of murder, consider this: Why do you think he’s guilty, other than the fact you’ve been told he’s guilty your entire life?

What evidence do you know off the top of your head leads you to come to this conclusion?

Unless you read the trial transcript or look into both sides of each trial, you cannot base your opinion on either trial based off a 10-second newscast or a multi-episode documentary with an agenda in mind.

I do not know if Steven Avery or O.J. Simpson are murderers, or if they were victims of police corruption.

But I do know that 20 years after O.J.’s verdict, we continue to live in a society that lets the media shape our
opinions.