O.J. Simpson convicted, jailed in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – O.J. Simpson, the former football star who was famously cleared of double murder in the sensational 1990s "Trial of the Century," was found guilty on all charges in his Las Vegas kidnapping and robbery case on Friday.
Simpson was convicted along with co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart on the 13th anniversary of his controversial 1995 acquittal and immediately jailed by Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass.
Both Simpson, 61, and Stewart, 54, face mandatory minimum sentences of five years behind bars and could be sentenced to life in prison.
The star-athlete-turned-actor appeared somber and emotional as the verdict was read late on Friday night, and winced as he was handcuffed by marshals and led from the courtroom into a holding cell.
His sister, Carmelita Durio, collapsed in the courtroom gallery and his daughter Arnelle sobbed as he and Stewart were led away. Durio was treated by paramedics.
Lawyers for Simpson and Stewart asked Glass to let the two men remain free pending sentencing on December 5 — a request the judge summarily rejected.
Simpson’s lead attorney, Yale Galanter, said he would appeal the conviction, which came after some 13 hours of deliberation in a single day by the jury of nine women and three men.
Galanter said Simpson’s past as a notorious murder defendant, widely seen as having eluded justice in Los Angeles, was a factor in the swift verdict reached by the Las Vegas jurors.
DEFENSE SAYS VERDICT ‘NOT A SHOCK’
"The verdict was not a shock. We knew it going in, there was a lot of baggage," he said.
Galanter said the jurors’ answers on questionnaires indicated that they were predisposed to find Simpson guilty.
Members of the jury, who worked well into the night before returning their unanimous guilty verdicts on all 12 counts against both defendants, told the judge they would not speak to reporters. Prosecutors also declined to address the media.
Simpson and Stewart were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, kidnapping, robbery and assault.
The case centered on an armed raid by Simpson and five cohorts on a pair of sports memorabilia dealers at the Palace Station hotel and casino in September 2007.
Witnesses said the men stormed into room 1203 of the hotel and took thousands of dollars’ worth of collectibles from dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley at gunpoint.
Defense lawyers argued that Simpson went to the hotel only to retrieve personal mementos that were stolen from him following his murder trial and was unaware that two of his sidekicks were armed.
Four of the other men originally charged in the case have agreed to plead guilty and all took the witness stand for the prosecution during nearly three weeks of testimony that concluded on Wednesday.
Neither Simpson nor Stewart testified in their own defense.
Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were found stabbed and slashed to death on June 12, 1994, and the popular former athlete known as "The Juice" was charged.
Simpson was found not guilty on October 3, 1995 at the end of a yearlong trial that was carried live gavel-to-gavel on U.S. television and transfixed much of the world.
A civil court jury later found Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families, a judgment that remains largely unpaid.