OJ Simpson sentenced to 15 years in jail for armed robbery

Friday 05 December 2008 19:18

O.J. Simpson was sentenced to 15 years in jail today for his role in a kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas - 13 years to the day after he was cleared of double murder in America's "trial of the century".

The former American football star recruited five other men to help him rob two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room on September 13 last year, a jury at Clark County District Court found.

He was convicted of all 12 charges he faced in October after more than 13 continuous hours of jury deliberations.

Simpson will serve a minimum of nine years in jail before being eligible for parole, meaning he will be at least 70 before being released.

Judge Jackie Glass told Simpson he knew what he was doing and that his actions were "much more than stupidity".

"You went to the room, you took guns... you used force, you took property... and in this state that amounts to robbery with use of a deadly weapon," she said.

The judge said several times that her sentence in the Las Vegas case had nothing to do with Simpson's 1994 acquittal in the slaying of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. She said her role was not to invoke "retribution or payback" for anything else.

Earlier, in a quiet voice, Simpson apologised for his stupidity and told the judge it was "the first time I had the opportunity to catch the guys red-handed who'd been stealing from my family".

"I stand before you today. I'm sorry, somewhat confused," he said in an emotional statement during today's sentencing hearing.

Wearing a dark blue jail uniform, he said he knew the victims involved, but had no hatred towards them.

"I didn't ask anybody to do anything but to stand behind me, allow me to yell at these guys and then help me remove those things," he said.

"And if they wouldn't let me remove them, then we would call the cops on them because I thought that they were wrong.

"In no way did I mean to hurt anybody, to steal anything from anyone."

He said he had been set up with false claims that he had appeared in a pornographic video since his high-profile 1995 trial and added that he frequently saw his possessions, including photographs which he claimed were stolen from him, appear in the media.

"I wasn't there to hurt anybody, I just wanted my personal things," he said.

"And I realise I was stupid and I'm sorry. I didn't mean to steal anything from anybody and I didn't know I was doing anything illegal.

"I thought I was confronting friends and retrieving my property.

"So I'm sorry, I'm sorry for all of it."

Referring to his co-defendant, his long-time golfing friend Clarence CJ Stewart, Simpson went on: "All the other guys except Mr Stewart volunteered, they wanted to go. Mr Stewart is the only person that I asked, would he come to help me.

"But I didn't mean to hurt anybody and I didn't mean to steal from anybody."

Stewart was also sentenced to at least 15 years.

Outside court, Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, and sister, Kim, said they were thrilled with the sentence.

"There's never closure. Ron is always gone. What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs behind bars," Fred Goldman said.

Judge Glass ruled before sentencing that Simpson cannot be freed on bail pending possible appeal.

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