OJ Simpson court sketch artist subpoenaed over 'astonishingly' accurate drawings (2024)

FOR Bill Robles, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The legendary courtroom sketch artist has been at the top of his game for an astonishing 54 years, but there are no plans to pack away his pad and brushes anytime soon.





From Charles Manson to Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein, Michael Bolton, the Oklahoma bomber, Robert Durst, Rodney King, and Led Zeppelin, the indefatigable 90-year-old has seen - and drawn - them all.

Yet one trial stands out.

"The OJ Simpson trial was the bloodiest I have ever covered," he told The U.S. Sun.

"I used to drive by his house because I lived nearby."

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When Bill sat down with The U.S. Sun at CrimeCon in Nashville, he was getting ready to cover the trial of Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani's interpreter allegedly stealing $16 million from his bank account.

But a journey back to the start of his career saw a chance meeting with legendary novelist Truman Capote while covering the first ever court case - the 1970 trial of twisted serial killer Manson.

"I was interested in the news," Bill, who started off as an illustrator in Los Angeles, said.

"But the closest I had ever got to court was watching Perry Mason on TV."

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He said chatting with Capote was "cool" and seeing Manson, who brutally slaughtered seven people, up close was an incredible, momentous way to start his life less ordinary in the courtrooms of California.

Yet becoming embroiled in the infamous OJ trial in 1994 which captured the attention of the world, was something he will never forget.

Nicole Brown Simpson’s harrowing secret diary entries reveal OJ 'hit, bruised and threw her against walls'

"It was very tense," Bill recalled, who initially concentrated on the faceless jurors but soon became fixated with the presence of disgraced former NFL star OJ brought into the room.

"I was amazed by how big Simpson was," he continued. "He must have manipulated those people like rag dolls."

He enjoyed drawing the father of murdered Ron Goldman - "He had such strong features and that big handlebar mustache" - and pictured the family of OJ's ex-wife Nicole Brown weeping as the trial headed towards its unbelievable climax.

Bill says it's impossible not to be engulfed with emotion, yet that's nothing compared to the hell Nicole's family were going through.




"When people in the courtroom are talking about the brutality of murder involving females, I've seen women artists run out of room," he admitted before revealing the level of security for the Rodney King case - the L.A. man who was brutally attacked by cops and which fueled the anger of the black community which seeped into O.J's trial of the century - was beyond anything he had ever experienced.


There was something else Bill encountered during those whirlwind weeks in the Los Angeles County Superior court.

"I was subpoenaed by Judge Ito for the OJ trial because he saw a drawing that I did of faceless jurors," he said with a smile.

"They were just blank faces, not a feature there. But he saw the jury and the alternates and was astonished at the accuracy. And he was so concerned about preserving their identity of jurors that he subpoenaed me to bring all my drawings to court."

Controversial Ito, who drew criticism from some quarters for allowing TV cameras into the court, asked Bill into his chambers.


"He had thousands of hourglasses in there," he revealed. "I explained I was just painting what I saw but he told me to modify hairstyles, and put glasses on some of them.

"I started doing that, but then he created a stamp which said 'Ito approved' in red."

That was the first - and only time - in Bill's 54 year-career that happened.


Bill was outside when the verdict heard all around the world was announced.

He remembers the crowds and the scaffolding village that was erected across from the courtroom to deal with the voracious media attention.

"That wasn't there for the Manson trial," he said.

While the OJ case was the biggest of his career, Bill says watching disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein take to the stand was "the total opposite."

He said he had "really deteriorated" from the first time he saw him, but the 2005 Michael Jackson trial in Santa Maria was equally memorable - and busy.

As with OJ, the global attention was off the scale, and for Bill, who has worked his whole career as a freelance, the orders were coming in, thick and fast.

"It was the most lucrative time of my life," he continued. "I had people from Japan ordering my work. I wish I could have another year like that."

There was the time Michael Bolton asked Bill to touch up some baldness on his head, Paula Abdul thanked him for making her "look so pretty" and an impromptu sketch of country music legend Garth Brooks, which he managed to get signed before selling for a princely sum.

He saw the sickening Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh show no remorse when sentenced to the death penalty for killing 168 people in 1995 and painted the final gas chamber execution in California.

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Yet there were happier times too, none more so than when he ended up partying with legendary rockers Led Zeppelin in 2020 following their copyright battle over their iconic Stairway to Heaven.

"One of my favorite drawings came out of that trial," he said. "They had a party afterward, they took photos of Robert Plant taking pictures of my work. It's always been fascinating."




The Life and Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson is a new Lifetime documentary that provides a whole new perspective on Nicole's life leading up to her gruesome murder.

In the film,Nicole's sisters, Denise, Dominique, and Tanya Brown, all give exclusive interviews and insight into the perilous relationship as one of many guest speakers with insight into the lives of OJ and Nicole.

Part one of the two-part documentary aired on June 1, showcasing OJ's history of abuse against both Nicole and his first wife Marguerite Whitley.

Diary entries from Nicole's journal reveal the details of episodes of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of OJ.

"OJ threw me up against walls in our hotel and on the floor. Put bruises on my arms and back. The window scared me – thought he’d throw me out," she wrote in one entry.

The next episode airs on June 2; viewers can watch it on the Lifetime channel or stream it through Lifetime's official website, Lifetime.com.

Read more on the first episode here.

If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at1-800-799-7233or chat atthehotline.org.

OJ Simpson court sketch artist subpoenaed over 'astonishingly' accurate drawings (2024)
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