O.J. Simpson was found guilty yesterday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room. O.J. is 61, and he could spend the rest of his life in prison, and is looking at a minimum of 20 years. Sentencing is set for Dec. 5.
Simpson released a big sigh as the charges were read by the clerk in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody.
Watch the video of O.J. being taken into custody.
The former football star was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at a hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said Simpson asked him to bring a gun.
Ironically, the verdict came 13 years to the day after O.J. was cleared of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles in an extremely controversial trial. O.J.’s attorney Yale Galenter said:
“I don’t like to use the word payback. I can tell you from the beginning my biggest concern … was whether or not the jury would be able to separate their very strong feelings about Mr. Simpson and judge him fairly and honestly. Galanter acknowledged in his closing argument that what Simpson did to recover his memorabilia was not right. “But being stupid, and being frustrated is not being a criminal. This case has taken on a life of its own because of Mr. Simpson’s involvement. You know that. I know that. Every cooperator, every person who had a gun, every person who had an ulterior motive, every person who signed a book deal, every person who got paid money, the police, the district attorney’s office, is only interested in one thing: Mr. Simpson.
Simpson’s co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges in the case and taken into custody. Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom. His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto, who said “I love you” as Simpson passed by. Durio collapsed after the court emptied of spectators.
Galanter said it was not a happy day for anybody. “His only hope is the appellate process,” he said. Stewart’s attorney, Brent Bryson, promised to appeal, and said:
“If there was ever a case that should have been severed in the history of jurisprudence, it’s this case,” he said of unsuccessful attempts to separate Stewart’s case from Simpson’s because of the “spillover” effect.
Simpson and his lawyers argued the incident was not a robbery, but an attempt to reclaim items that had been stolen from him. O.J. said he did not ask anyone to bring a weapon and did not see any guns. Right. The jury didn’t buy it either.
The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make money from his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as a chance to “get” him and avenge his acquittal in the Nicole Brown Simpson/Ronald Goldstein murder case.
Prosecutors argued that Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to attempt to take things by force. Prosecutor David Roger said:
“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here! Six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them, that’s kidnapping.”
Simpson didn’t testify, but could be heard on a recording of the incident screaming that the men had stolen his property. “Don’t let nobody out of this room,” he shouted, and told the other men to get his items. Four other men charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from possible prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them already had criminal records. One was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain! God is smart!
This morning, all Snarkista can say is: Karma’s a bitch, dude.