The Trial Of The Century Is Back On TVs

by Joseph D. Lyons

The "trial of the century" is back on televisions across the country, thanks to FX's new drama The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. The relationship between O.J. and his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson was one of the main focuses at the trial, but there's another woman in O.J.'s life at the time: Paula Barbieri. They were dating up until the day of the murders.

Barbieri had been seeing Simpson, and on the morning of the murder, she called off their relationship. She left Simpson a voicemail message saying it was over at 7 a.m. She testified at the civil case against Simpson that she was sure he listened to it, although he and lawyers claimed he never did. She said that she got messages from him that made her believe he had heard it, including one in which he wanted to know "what was wrong now."

Phone records show that he tried to call her several times the day of the murders, including about an hour before the murders of his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman. Barbieri, a former model and actress, left L.A. after making the call and flew to Las Vegas, where she spent time with Michael Bolton.

Simpson had been deeply involved with Barbieri, and apparently enjoyed when people mistook her for Julia Roberts. An acquaintance told People, "O.J. liked to talk about the times they'd go out to restaurants and how afterward the valet would look at Paula and say, 'Here's your car, Miss Roberts,' O.J. loved that."

Despite calling it off with Simpson before the murders, Barbieri initially stood by him after he was arrested. On ABC's Prime Time Live in 1995, Barbieri told Dianne Sawyer that while the two no longer had a relationship "of any kind," she still thought he was innocent. She went on the news to clear up what some thought was an ongoing relationship.

During his murder trial she thought the two could get back together, but the illusion was dashed after she realized he wanted to be photographed with her to then sell the pictures to a tabloid. She and Simpson had been photographed together in her hometown in Florida, but Barbieri told Sawyer that it was part of the tabloid ploy.

She went on to write a book, published in 1997 titled The Other Woman: My Years With O.J. Simpson. In it, she describes her conversion to born again Christianity, in addition to her time with Simpson. In an interview with Larry King on CNN at the time, she said she would not question her view on Simpson's innocence again. "I'm choosing not to look further into making a decision one way or another, and I ask people's forgiveness on that," she told King.

While you might want to take a pass on the book, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is airing on FX. If you missed Tuesday's episode you can catch it on FXNOW.