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O.J. Simpson To Be Sentenced In Oct. Conviction

On Oct. 3 , O.J. Simpson was convicted on 12 charges, including felony kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy. He stood trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas.
Daniel Gluskoter / AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
On Oct. 3 , O.J. Simpson was convicted on 12 charges, including felony kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy. He stood trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas.

In October, a jury in Las Vegas found O.J. Simpson guilty of 12 felonies related to a robbery he and six other men committed last year. Friday morning, the former football and movie star — who became a courtroom celebrity acquitted of murdering his former wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman — is scheduled to receive his punishment in the robbery case.

According to recently filed court documents, Nevada's Division of Parole and Probation will recommend 18 years.

Simpson is now 61. More than a year ago, he led a group of men — two of whom had guns — to a room at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino. Inside, sports memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley had boxes of things, including signed Simpson footballs and family photos. Simpson wanted the items, so he had a friend, Thomas Riccio, arrange a meeting. Riccio made an obscenity-laced audio recording of what happened next.

The tape captures Simpson saying, "Think you can steal my [obscenity] and sell it? Don't let nobody out of here."

That comment led to charges of kidnapping, assault and robbery after Simpson and his friends left with boxes of items — including things that never belonged to him. Four of Simpson's partners turned and testified against him in exchange for reduced charges. One, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, stood trial with Simpson.

Throughout the trial, District Judge Jackie Glass was notably harsh with the defense, but she told jurors not to punish Simpson now because they thought he might have gotten away with murder before. "The case that we are trying here is totally separate from what happened in that case," she said.

Facing Maximum Of Life In Prison

It took the Vegas jury 13 hours to convict both men on all of the charges. Since then, Simpson has been sitting in a cell awaiting sentencing. The likely minimum is six years; the maximum is life.

Even Simpson's own lawyers say he was stupid to attempt the robbery. But defense attorney David Figler, a former Las Vegas municipal judge, says 18 years for someone with no prior convictions is over the top. "Given all the circumstances and what we have to accept as the lack of criminal history of all the parties involved," Figler says, "probation would always be on the table, or something along the lines of one or two years."

Glass likely will lecture Simpson, as she is known to do before imposing a sentence. Simpson will probably appeal. The grounds are expected to be that it was an all-white jury for the two black defendants.

Simpson's co-defendant, Stewart, likely will ask for a new separate trial because he was tied to a celebrity. Figler says he may get one — and both men may get the state Supreme Court to drop one charge. "I think the Nevada Supreme Court would have a hard time feeling that kidnapping was really one of the things that occurred in this exchange and this demand for the merchandise," Figler says.

No one was injured, and even the two victims have said it was all a mistake. So why was Simpson prosecuted so harshly?

"I don't know," Figler says. "I don't know, other than who wants to be the one who let O.J. go again?"

Not the prosecutors in Clark County, Nev.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ted Robbins
As supervising editor for Arts and Culture at NPR based at NPR West in Culver City, Ted Robbins plans coverage across NPR shows and online, focusing on TV at a time when there's never been so much content. He thinks "arts and culture" encompasses a lot of human creativity — from traditional museum offerings to popular culture, and out-of-the-way people and events.