Friday, December 5, 2008

O.J. Simpson faces 6 years to life at sentencing

O.J. Simpson is going to prison; the question is for how long.

The former football star who walked away a free man after a celebrated murder trial was due to learn Friday how much time he'll spend in a Nevada state prison for a botched attempt to recover sports mementoes and personal items from two collectibles peddlers.

Neither Simpson, who was acquitted of the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles, nor his co-defendant and former golfing buddy, Clarence "C.J. Stewart, testified at trial. They were convicted Oct. 3 of 12 criminal charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery, and face mandatory prison time — a minimum of six years and up to life.

Simpson attorney Yale Galanter has said his client won't address the court. Stewart will, said his lawyer, Brent Bryson.

"Best-case scenario we're hoping for is six years. That's the bottom-end number before being eligible for parole," Bryson said.

District Attorney David Roger is not expected to call witnesses, spokesman Dan Kulin said.

Simpson lawyer Gabriel Grasso said Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass would likely keep the proceedings short.

"She wants to hear from the lawyers and she wants to hear from the defendants. That's about it," Grasso said.

Judges in Nevada have broad discretion in determining whether to run sentences consecutively or at the same time. Glass, known for giving severe sentences, can ignore or accept a recommendation from the state parole agency calling for at least 18 years.

She received written pleas for leniency from defense lawyers and was expected to rule on a request to let Simpson post bail and be freed from jail while he appeals his conviction. The judge already denied the men's request for a new trial.

"Notwithstanding the jury verdict, Simpson continues to maintain his innocence," Grasso said in a brief seeking his client's release.

Jurors who heard 13 days of testimony said after the verdict that they were convinced of Simpson's guilt because of audio recordings middleman Thomas Riccio secretly made of the Sept. 13, 2007, Palace Station casino hotel confrontation with sports memorabilia brokers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.

"Don't let nobody out of this room!" Simpson commands on the recordings, and instructs other men to scoop up items he insists had been stolen from him.

On Tuesday, Glass is scheduled to sentence four former co-defendants who took plea deals and testified against Simpson and Stewart. Michael McClinton, Charles Cashmore, Walter Alexander and Charles Ehrlich could receive probation or prison time. McClinton could get up to 11 years; the others face less.

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