OJ Simpson jury retires to consider verdict

OJ Simpson jury retires to consider verdict

The jury trying OJ Simpson over kidnapping and armed robbery charges in Las Vegas has retired to consider its verdicts today.

The former American football star’s fate again lies in the hands of a jury, 13 years to the day after he was cleared of murder in America’s “trial of the century”.

Simpson, 61, who now lives in Miami, Florida, faces up to life in prison if convicted of all the charges.

The all-white jury of nine women and three men at the Clark County District Court in downtown Las Vegas has heard how he was involved in the alleged theft of sports memorabilia at the Palace Station hotel and casino in Las Vegas on September 13 last year.

The former actor and NFL star’s high-profile 1995 trial saw him cleared of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, by a predominantly black jury in Los Angeles.

The verdict shocked the world and prompted debates over the racial elements of the case and the suitability of televised trials.

Yesterday, District Attorney David Roger, prosecuting, said Simpson was the leader of a conspiracy last year and none of the men with him cared about the memorabilia in the room.

“But there was one person, and that was defendant Simpson,” he said, raising his voice.

“He is the person who put these crimes together. He is the one who recruited these individuals to help him commit the crimes.”

Deputy district attorney Chris Owens, prosecuting, said Simpson brought a gang of men to the Palace Station to retrieve items he lost while trying to hide it from the family of Ronald Goldman and the California court that levied a 33.5m (€24.2m) civil wrongful death judgment against Simpson.

Four of the five men who accompanied Simpson to the casino – Charles Cashmore, Walter “Goldie” Alexander, Michael “Spencer” McClinton and Charles Ehrlich - have accepted plea deals and agreed to testify for the prosecution.

The fifth, Clarence “CJ” Stewart, 54, is his co-defendant and the pair both deny 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Yale Galanter, defending Simpson, told the jury the prosecution had failed to prove his client was guilty in the trial that “has taken on a life of its own because of Mr Simpson’s involvement”.

“Every co-operator, 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,” Mr Galanter said.

“He has always been the target of this investigation, and nothing else mattered.”

He told the jury that Simpson never intended to commit a robbery but wanted to reclaim personal mementoes of his career and family life that were being sold by memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

“Being stupid, and being frustrated, is not being a criminal,” he said.

Witnesses told the court Simpson repeatedly declared he did not see any guns and did not know guns were to be present in the hotel room.

Mr Galanter said the incident got out of hand because of former co-defendant Mr McClinton, who pulled out a gun during the confrontation.

“For whatever reason, Michael McClinton takes over,” he said.

“And when McClinton takes over, he starts yelling and screaming and giving people orders and telling people to bag stuff up.

“And OJ’s saying, ’Don’t take anything that’s not mine.’.”

Neither Simpson nor Stewart gave evidence during the three-week trial, and jurors were instructed not to consider that when judging the case.

Judge Jackie Glass, who rejected several mistrial motions and kept a tight rein on the proceedings, also warned jurors against trying to punish Simpson over the death of his former wife.

She said if they were looking to become famous because of the trial “then this is not the case for you”.

Before the trial began, one prospective juror was dismissed after she told the court she “felt he got away with murder”.

In 2006, Simpson wrote a book called 'If I Did It', which set out how he might have murdered his wife, had he been so inclined.

But the book was withdrawn and pulped by HarperCollins shortly before being published.

In August last year, a Florida bankruptcy court gave the rights to the book to the Goldman family, who published it under the title 'I Did It: Confessions of the Killer'.

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