OJ facing life behind bars after robbery conviction

OJ Simpson faces spending the rest of his life behind bars today after being found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.

OJ Simpson faces spending the rest of his life behind bars today after being found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.

An all-white jury of nine women and three men unanimously found him guilty of all 12 charges after more than 13 continuous hours of deliberations, which started 13 years to the day after he was cleared of a double murder in America’s “trial of the century”.

The former American football star kidnapped two sports memorabilia dealers and robbed them at gunpoint in a room at the Palace Station hotel and casino in Las Vegas on September 13 last year, the jury at the Clark County District Court found.

Simpson (aged 61) who now lives in Miami, Florida, faces up to life in prison when sentenced on December 5.

Outside court, Yale Galanter, defending Simpson, said the star would appeal, however.

“The verdict was not a shock,” he said. “We knew it going in, there was a lot of baggage.”

Mr Galanter went on: “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.”

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said prosecutors would not comment until the case was “completely resolved”.

A prison sentence would mark the lowest point of a momentous fall from grace for the former actor and National Football League star whose 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 1995 verdict shocked the world and prompted debates over the racial elements of the case and the suitability of televised trials.

In Las Vegas, Simpson, wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and grey tie, blew out his cheeks, sighed heavily and nodded as the verdicts were read out.

Looking tired, he stood next to his defence counsel at the back of the court and occasionally looked down or to the side, shifting his weight from foot to foot, as the verdicts were read out in the late-night hearing in courtroom 15a.

The second Simpson was convicted, the lights went out, plunging the courtroom into darkness, and security officers told everyone to stay where they were.

The courtroom lights were on an automatic timer and went off at 11pm local time (7am Irish time on Saturday) before coming back on within a few seconds.

Moments later, Simpson’s hands were cuffed behind his back on live television and he was led out of the court by a Clark County marshal.

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.

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

He urged the jury to uncover the “true face” of the former star, and said it was “not necessarily the one he puts out to the world”.

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 (aged 54) was his golfing friend and co-defendant in the trial.

Simpson's lawyer Galanter said the case had “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.”

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”.

The judge has kept a strict timetable throughout the three-week trial, with court starting at 8am each day and sitting until 6pm.

Once they retired to consider their verdicts, the jurors continued in this fashion, sitting through lunch and dinner, and ordering food in as they completed their deliberations in a single day – the anniversary of Simpson’s 1995 acquittal.

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'.

The former star and his almost-forgotten co-defendant Stewart were both found guilty of all 12 charges they faced.

These were two counts of first degree kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of coercion with a deadly weapon, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime, kidnapping and robbery.

Simpson's sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed in the public gallery behind him as the verdicts were read out.

As spectators left the courtroom, Ms Durio collapsed and paramedics were called, court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer said.

Jurors made no eye contact with the defendants.

Judge Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for their service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for a new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days.

“I’ve sat through the trial,” she said. “If you want a motion for new trial, send me something.”

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