AP Photo/Daniel Gluskoter, Pool
Published Friday, Oct. 3, 2008 | 12:38 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008 | 12:46 a.m.
- The reading of the verdicts and comments from Judge Jackie Glass
O.J. Simpson is going to prison.
A predominantly white, predominantly female jury has found the former NFL All Star guilty of all of the 12 robbery, kidnapping and weapons charges he faced following a run-in last year with a pair of memorabilia dealers.
His co-accused, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, was also found guilty of all charges and will do jail time.
Simpson, 61, and Stewart, 54, may spend the rest of their lives in prison. The two charges of kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, of which they were both convicted, carry a possible life sentence with no parole for five years.
Simpson’s lawyer, Yale Galanter, said he and his client knew there was a good chance the jury would find Simpson guilty. “You would have to be living on another planet to realize this was not a possibility," he said during an impromptu press conference tonight.
Tonight’s decision comes 13 years to the day after another jury declared Simpson not guilty in the double-murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
A subsequent civil suit found Simpson liable for the deaths, however, and placed a $33.5-million judgment against him.
Galanter declined to say whether or not he considered the absolute verdict “payback,” but he questioned whether or not his client’s past affected his most recent trial.
“It's a sad day for him and a sad day for his family,” Galanter said. "This is not a happy day for anybody.”
Before he was taken away, Simpson expressed concern that he would not be able to see his children graduate from college. He described his state as “melancholy.”
Simpson’s other lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, suggested the verdict and corresponding sentences were excessive. He said Simpson would have received an equally stiff sentence if the football legend had walked into a bank with an AK-47 assault rifle, robbed it and duct taped the people inside. "There's a fairness issue," he said.
After hearing the verdict at 10:55 p.m. Friday, Simpson and Stewart were handcuffed and taken into custody. They are both being held at the Clark County Detention Center without bail.
District Court Judge Jackie Glass will deliver their sentences at 9 a.m. on Dec. 5.
Dressed in a dark suit jacket, white shirt and silver tie, Simpson showed no emotion as the verdict was read. He closed his eyes briefly as court marshals handcuffed him and was listless as he was taken away.
Simpson was notably tense as he arrived at the Clark County Regional Justice Center just after 10:20 p.m. this evening. With him were his daughter, Arnelle, sister, Carmelita Durio, and Tom Scotto, who testified in the trial.
Durio embraced her niece and wept in the courtroom after hearing the verdict. The emotion soon proved too much for Simpson’s sister, who collapsed during the ordeal and had to be attended to by paramedics.
The nine-women and three-man jury started discussing Simpson and Stewart’s fate at 8:30 a.m. this morning. The group elected to stay late Friday evening in effort to reach a conclusion and after nearly 14 hours of discussions, they indicated that they had agreed upon a verdict.
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.
Simpson’s lawyers are expected to appeal the verdict. They have already moved, unsuccessfully, for several mistrials.
Galanter said an appeal would be his client’s “only hope.”
Galanter complained Glass placed unusual restrictions upon the defense during a trial. "I have never been in a case where I have had my cross examinations as limited as this. ... I think that cross-examinations should be very liberal and wide open. It did not happen in this case."
Stewart’s attorney, Brent E. Bryson, promised to appeal the decision. He and his client’s other lawyers, Robert Lucherini and Charles D. Jones, made several motions to sever their client from the trial, which they alleged was tainted by Simpson’s notorious past and celebrity status.
“If there was ever a case that should have been severed in the history of jurisprudence, it's this case," Bryson said.
Prosecutors made no statements after hearing the verdict, withholding comment until after sentencing.
The trial began on Sept. 15 and over three weeks of proceedings the court heard from 22 different and often colorful witnesses.
Key state witnesses, including alleged gunmen, Michael McClinton and Walter Alexander, provided contradictory testimony.
McClinton said he and Alexander both wielded handguns during the confrontation, but never pointed the weapons at anybody. Alexander said his gun never left his waistband. Both said Simpson asked them to bring the weapons to the raiding party, but Simpson’s lawyers denied their allegations.
One of the victims, Bruce Fromong, and the middleman who arranged the contentious meeting in his hotel room, Thomas Riccio, both said that McClinton pointed his gun directly at them.
Simpson and Stewart never testified, but through their lawyers denied their clients had any knowledge that guns were to be used in what they claimed was intended to be a simple reconnaissance mission.
Simpson’s attorneys said their client and his associates went to the Palace Station on Sept. 13, 2007, to recover personal items that had been stolen from him. The Heisman Trophy winner had no desire to take any items not belonging to him, they said, though the defense acknowledged other memorabilia items -- including 30 to 50 Joe Montana lithographs and 24 baseballs signed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider –- were taken by mistake.
An audio recording of the six-minute altercation secretly taken by Riccio captured the voices of Simpson and others promising to return anything that wasn’t theirs. Prosecutors said several of the items, including the autographed baseballs, were never recovered.
No members of the jury elected to speak publicly about the trial.