Kato Kaelin Was with Barbara Walters When O.J. Verdict Was Read: 'I Think the Jury Made a Mistake' (Exclusive)

Kato Kaelin, who lived in a guest house on O.J. Simpson's property at the time of the killings, was a witness during the 1995 trial

<p>Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images; KMazur/WireImage; Images/Getty Images</p> Kato Kaelin, Barbara Walters, and O.J. Simpson

Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images; KMazur/WireImage; Images/Getty Images

Kato Kaelin, Barbara Walters, and O.J. Simpson

Kato Kaelin might forever be remembered for his role as a witness in O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial, but it’s the seat he had for the verdict that sticks out most to the actor and television host.

Kaelin, 65, recently spoke with PEOPLE about the disgraced football star who stood trial for the double-homicide of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

O.J. died on April 10 following a cancer diagnosis at the age of 76.

Speaking with PEOPLE this week, Kaelin recalls the “scary” trial — and how he was sitting next to 20/20's Barbara Walters when O.J.'s “not guilty” verdict was read on live television.

Kaelin was waiting alongside Walters, who died in 2022 at the age of 93, for an interview on 20/20 that would feature his reaction to the verdict.

“It was just her and I sitting and she asked me, ‘What do you think of the decision?’ I just say, ‘I think the jury made a mistake,’ “ Kaelin, lived in a guest house on O.J.'s property at the time of the murders, says.

“By that time when I sat next to her, we had already seen each other three or four times on shows or when she visited Los Angeles,” Kaelin adds, noting that he and Walters were close enough to have dinners together outside of his appearances on her program.

Kaelin, who took the stand earlier in the trial, recalls Walters nodding her head in response to his initial reaction that the jury made a mistake.

“I think that she agreed,” Kaelin says. “I think she kind of nodded, and that was really about it.”

Related: ‘Dreams of Killing Her’: Friend Recounts Disturbing Talk with O.J. Simpson the Day After Murder of Ex-Wife

<p>POO/AFP via Getty Images</p> Kato Kaelin

POO/AFP via Getty Images

Kato Kaelin

The Wisconsin native first met Nicole after moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Kaelin says he met Nicole on a trip to Aspen with General Hospital actor Grant Cramer. “Everybody just became instant friends,” Kaelin remembers about the trip.

Kaelin then grew even closer to Nicole after she began dating one of his friends.

“At the time I was living in Hermosa Beach, California, and I drove up from Hermosa to a few of Nicole’s parties and she had a guest house,” he says. “And after meeting Sydney and Justin, her kids, they loved me and I said, ‘Hey, can I live in a guest house?’ And that’s how it all started and became friends that way.”

Kaelin “never saw physical fighting” between O.J. and Nicole, but says the couple had their issues. “Well, I’m not a fan of his, that’s all I say,” Kaelin says. “He was very charismatic. He loved being adulated by people. He loved it when they’d come up for an autograph, but [he and Nicole] had their differences.”

Kaelin adds: “I thought he was a guilty person.”

The actor-turned-famed witness’ life has largely been defined by his role in the trial — and he says becoming known for it has hampered his chances at landing acting jobs, other than cameos of himself.

Related: Where Are O.J. Simpson’s Kids Now? What to Know About Arnelle, Jason, Sydney and Justin

<p>AFP via Getty Images</p> From left: Johnnie Cochran Jr. and O.J. Simpson

AFP via Getty Images

From left: Johnnie Cochran Jr. and O.J. Simpson

Nowadays, Kaelin co-hosts the podcast, One Degree of Scandalous with Tom Zenner.

“I believe OJ is probably the biggest scandal in the world. But there’s other ones,” he says.

Kaelin recently filmed a true crime pilot. “I went through this,” he says. “Everybody watches it and loves true crime.”

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He’s also hosted Ice Wars, a series of combat entertainment pay per view events that plays off ice hockey fights. “It’s no sticks, no pucks, just fists — it’s hockey fights on ice,” he says. In addition, Kaelin spent four years hosting Wizard World traveling conventions (now known as “Fan Expo”).

Kaelin also spent two years as EmCee for KiCaSS (Kingdoms, Clans and Swords ‘n Shields) fan conventions with stars of shows like Outlander and The Last Kingdom.

Kaelin says he still wonders how his acting career might have panned out if not for his appearance during the trial.

“I was getting auditions,” Kaelin recalls. “Then the trial happened. Would I have been a star? I don’t know. I doubt it. But maybe I would have been a working actor.”

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