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O.J. Simpson sentence: at least 9 years

NFL Hall of Famer could be in prison until age 94, if parole is denied

Image

AP Photo/Ethan Miller, Pool

O.J. Simpson, left, appears during his sentencing hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas Friday. O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles, has been sentenced to at least 9 years in prison in a Las Vegas armed robbery case.

Updated Friday, Dec. 5, 2008 | 11:19 a.m.

Simpson Sentencing

O.J. Simpson appears during a sentencing hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on Dec. 5, 2008. Launch slideshow »

Summary of charges and corresponding sentences

  • The kidnapping convictions each carry possible life sentences with no parole for five years.
  • The robbery convictions carry mandatory two-year sentences, plus an additional year, at minimum, for use of a deadly weapon.
  • The burglary conviction carries a mandatory two- to 15-year sentence and a possible fine of up to $15,000.
  • The coercion convictions carry mandatory one- to six-year sentences and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
  • The assault convictions carry mandatory one- to six-year sentences and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
  • Conspiracy to commit kidnapping carries a mandatory one- to six-year sentence and a possible fine of up to $5,000.
  • Conspiracy to commit robbery carries a mandatory one- to six-year sentence and a possible fine of up to $5,000. Conspiracy to commit a crime is a gross misdemeanor that carries a possible probationable one-year sentence and/or $2,000 fine.

O.J. Simpson will spend at least nine years in a Nevada prison.

District Court Judge Jackie Glass handed the former NFL star his punishment, 33 years in prison without the possibility of parole for nine years, just after 10 a.m. this morning.

“The evidence in this case was overwhelming,” Glass said. “Overwhelming.”

Dressed in navy blue inmate attire, Simpson addressed the court before receiving his sentence.

“I stand before you today, sorry, somewhat confused,” he said, his voice unsteady as he spoke.

“I didn’t mean to hurt anybody and I didn’t mean to steal from anybody,“ he said. “I didn’t know I was doing anything illegal. I thought I was confronting friends and retrieving my property.”

The All-Star running back was facing a possible life sentence following a run-in with two memorabilia dealers in a Palace Station hotel room last year.

Though Glass declined to impose a life term, her sentence means the former football star could remain incarcerated until he is 94 years old if denied parole.

Simpson and his co-accused, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, were found guilty on Oct. 3 of allegedly robbing the collectibles dealers at gunpoint on Sept 13, 2007.

Simpson, 61, maintained that no guns were involved and that he and his five-man entourage were simply recovering personal items that had been stolen from him.

A secret audio recording of the six-minute altercation captured by the middleman who arranged the meeting, Thomas Ricco, was used as evidence against the accused during the trial.

Simpson and Stewart were convicted on all 12 counts they faced, including two counts of first-degree kidnapping, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

The state had requested Simpson get at least 18 years behind bars while his attorneys asked he serve the minimum, six years.

Simpson’s attorney, Gabriel Grasso, said the defense was disappointed with Glass’s sentence.

“We were expecting less than that,” he said.

Grasso and Simpson’s other lawyer, Yale Galanter, will appeal the decision.

“We’ll file the notice of appeal as soon as we can,” Galanter said yesterday. He said he expected to file the necessary documents this afternoon or first thing Monday morning.

Simpson’s attorneys will ask their client serve his sentence at either the High Desert State Prison or Southern Desert Correctional Center, in Indian Springs.

Stewart was also sentenced today and will serve a lighter prison term than Simpson. Glass sentenced him to 27 years in jail with no possibility of parole until 2016.

His lawyers will also appeal the decision.

District Attorney David Roger offered plea bargains in return for the testimony of the five others who accompanied Simpson and Stewart during the raid.

The accomplices, Charles Cashmore, Charles “Charlie” Ehrlich, and the two who said Simpson asked them to bring guns that fateful day, Michael McClinton and Walter Alexander, testified against Simpson and Stewart. They will be sentenced Tuesday.

(Editor's Note: This story is developing and will be updated. An earlier story is below.)

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O.J. Simpson’s lawyer, Yale Galanter, is hoping his client will receive the minimum sentence when District Court Judge Jackie Glass decides the former NFL star’s fate this morning – but the attorney isn’t kidding himself.

He said he doesn’t know what kind of prison term Simpson will receive.

“I can’t predict,” Galanter said Thursday afternoon.

Simpson, 61, is facing a possible sentence of six years to life behind bars following a confrontation with two memorabilia dealers in a Palace Station hotel room in the fall of 2007.

Regardless of the sentence, Galanter said he will begin the appeal process immediately following Friday’s proceedings. Stewart’s lawyers have also indicated that they will appeal.

“We’ll file the notice of appeal as soon as we can,” Galanter said, adding that he expected to file the necessary documents either Friday afternoon or first thing Monday morning.

The appeal would likely be heard within a year, if accepted.

Simpson was convicted on Oct. 3 of all 12 charges he faced related to the incident, including 11 felonies — two counts each of first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon; robbery with use of a deadly weapon; assault with a deadly weapon; and coercion with use of a deadly weapon, and one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping; conspiracy to commit burglary; and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon — and one gross misdemeanor, conspiracy to commit a crime.

The State Parole and Probation Division has asked Glass to send the Heisman Trophy winner away for no less than 18 years but Galanter is hoping the judge will consider a lighter sentence.

Simpson will be transferred to a state penitentiary after receiving his sentence today. Galanter said he did not know which jail his client will be sent to but said the defense will request Simpson go to either the High Desert State Prison or Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs. Both are medium-security institutions located about 45 minutes from where he’s currently being held and are approximately 25 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Galanter hopes his client’s stay at the prison will be as short as possible.

“Obviously we think that the facts and the circumstances of this case really do call for the minimum sentence,” he said.

“We want (Judge Glass) to (assign the minimum sentence based) on the fact that a, he’s a first time offender … and b, that he did not have any … criminal intent,” Galanter said.

Criminal intent relates to whether or not Simpson knowingly intended to commit a crime. The defense maintained throughout the three-week long trial that Simpson was not simply trying to retrieve items that belonged to him.

“Everything that came into that room had the name O.J. Simpson on it,” Galanter said, referring to the range of Simpson memorabilia the two victims, collectibles dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, had with them that day.

There were, however, items unrelated to Simpson in Palace Station hotel room 1203 on Sept. 13, 2007, including boxes of Joe Montana lithographs and two dozen baseballs autographed by MLB legends Pete Rose and Duke Snider. Still, the vast majority of memorabilia Fromong and Beardsley were hoping to sell that day was Simpson-related, including NFL game presentation footballs, his 1969 All-Star plaque, and numerous personal and family photos, including one of him with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Galanter and Simpson’s other lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, also said, repeatedly, during the trial that their client had no knowledge that any weapons were either planned to be or actually used during the six-minute confrontation.

Ganater suggested the predominantly white, predominantly female jury delivered the unanimous guilty verdict to punish his client over ill-feelings related to Simpson’s 1995 acquittal in the double murder trial of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

The nine-women and three-man jury delivered their guilty verdict in Simpson’s latest case 13 years to the day after the another, predominantly black jury exonerated him of the murders.

The two complaining witnesses and victims, Fromong and Beardsley, will be called as witnesses during tomorrow’s sentencing hearing.

They are the only two witnesses that Glass has agreed to allow take the stand.

“We want to ask them their feelings on this and whether or not they feel crimes were committed,” Galanter said.

Beardsley made it clear when he testified during the trial that he did not want to see Simpson do any jail time. He initially refused to testify and only appeared before the court after being subpoenaed.

Fromong was also sympathetic to the accused and told the court that he felt "angry and hurt” after the incident.

"I was angry and hurt that my best friend had just robbed me at gunpoint," he told the court, noting that neither Simpson nor his co-accused, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, wielded weapons during the alleged robbery.

Simpson did not testify in his defense and has not talked to reporters since the verdict was delivered.

He and Stewart have been held at the Clark County Detention Center without bail for the past 62 days. (Stewart was also convicted on all 12 charges.)

Galanter visited Simpson at the Detention Center Thursday.

He said Simpson has adjusted well since having to trade his 4,200-square-foot Florida home for a 12 by 14-foot jail cell.

“He’s OK,” Galanter said. “Not great, but he’s OK.”

Galanter said Simpson has passed the last two months by doing the same sort of things others do while incarcerated: reading books and playing board games.

"He’s been reading books, playing checkers, playing chess," Galanter said.

Simpson is allowed two books or magazines in his cell at a time, and up to five religious books or articles.

Metro Police public information officer, Ramon Denby, said Simpson is classified as a "protective custody – isolation" inmate, meaning he is kept in strict solitary confinement.

His cell is closed off from the rest of the detention center’s 3,000 inmates and he spends most of his time within the four cinderblock walls of his cell with the door locked shut.

Simpson is allowed outside once a week for 60 minutes.

Denby described the outdoor recreation area as “basically four concrete walls with a mesh cage on top.”

After being sentenced and transferred to a state prison, Simpson will likely remain in protected custody because of his high profile.

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