Robert Kardashian, figure in O.J. Simpson legal case, dies at 5

Thursday, October 2, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- Robert Kardashian, a businessman and lawyer who was a key figure in the O.J. Simpson saga and part of his legal "dream team," has died. He was 59.

Kardashian died Tuesday night at his Los Angeles home eight weeks after being diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, said his former wife, Kris Jenner.

Simpson, a former football star, camped out at Kardashian's house in the days after Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death in 1994.

The infamous televised chase involving Simpson began after he fled Kardashian's home.

Kardashian, who attended the University of Southern California before Simpson arrived on campus, became friends with him in the 1970s.

"He stood by O.J. irrespective of how he felt because he felt that nobody else was standing by O.J. Not because of his innocence or guilt, but because there was a friendship there," said author Larry Schiller, whose book "American Tragedy" focused on the tensions and strategies of Simpson's legal team.

Kardashian was a collaborating source for the book, but not its primary source, Schiller said.

Simpson and Kardashian had a falling out over the book and a television miniseries based on it. Simpson claimed that Kardashian betrayed attorney-client privilege by telling details of the case.

Kardashian became a key figure in the case because he was seen carrying away a garment bag from Simpson's Rockingham Avenue estate the day after the double slaying. During the criminal case, he asserted attorney-client privilege and was never called to testify.

Kardashian said in a 1996 ABC interview that he questioned Simpson's innocence: "I have doubts. The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side; that causes me the greatest problems. So I -- I struggle with the blood evidence."

Simpson was acquitted in the slaying of his ex-wife and Goldman, but was found liable for the killings in a later civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.

Kardashian is survived by his wife, Ellen Pierson, whom he married recently, three daughters and a son.

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