O.J. Simpson Sentenced to Up to 33 Years in Prison for Armed Robbery and Kidnapping
O.J. Simpson was sentenced Friday to up to 33 years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping in a failed attempt to recover sports memorabilia from two collectibles dealers.
Simpson will be eligible for parole after nine years.
His co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart was sentenced to at least 15 years behind bars.
"We are pleased," said Simpson attorney Yale Galanter after the hearing.
Before Judge Jackie Glass handed down her decision, the 61-year-old fallen football star — clad in a blue prison jumpsuit, shackles and handcuffs — apologized to her and the Las Vegas court after learning he won't be able to be freed on bail if he appeals.
"I stand before you today sorry," an emotional Simpson told Glass, fighting back tears. "I am apologetic to the people of Nevada. ... When I came here, I came here for a wedding. I didn't come to reclaim property."
He said he thought he was taking advantage of an opportunity to retrieve mementos that were rightfully his, including sports memorabilia and his first wife's wedding ring, when he burst into a Las Vegas hotel room on Sept. 13, 2007.
O.J. Simpson in Las Vegas Court "In no way did I mean to hurt anybody, to steal anything from anyone," Simpson said. "I didn't want anybody else's stuff. I just wanted my own. I realize that I was stupid. I am sorry. I didn’t know that I was doing anything illegal. I thought I was retrieving property from friends. I’m sorry, I’m sorry for all of it."
But the judge emphasized that it was a violent confrontation in which at least one gun was drawn, and she said someone could have been killed. She said the case was unusual because the planning, the confrontation itself and the aftermath were all recorded on audio or videotape.
"The evidence in this case was overwhelming," she said. "This was actually a very violent event."
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 in Los Angeles.
"I'm not here to try and cause any retribution or any payback for anything else," Glass said.
The former Hall of Famer, who walked away a free man in 1995 after his celebrated murder trial, faced mandatory prison time of between six years and life behind bars.
Before Glass read his sentence, she ruled that Simpson cannot be freed on bail pending a possible appeal.
Simpson and his co-defendant and former golfing buddy, 54-year-old Stewart, were convicted Oct. 3 of 12 criminal charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery. Neither Simpson nor Stewart testified at the trial.
Stewart also spoke at the sentencing hearing and apologized to the state of Nevada. He said he bore no ill will toward anyone involved. He asked the court for leniency and said he prays for forgiveness.
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 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.
Simpson's lawyers called his actions "stupid" and admitted he broke the law, but said they didn't rise to the level of criminality that would warrant a long prison sentence. They asked Glass to show mercy.
"As stupid and as ill-conceived as it was, it wasn't something that was from this evil mind they teach us about," Galanter said before sentencing. "Not bright, not smart, not well thought out, but certainly not from an evil mind."
Glass responded during her statements that she believed "it was much more than stupidity."
Fred Goldman and his daughter, Kim Goldman, father and sister of murder victim Ron Goldman, the friend of Simpson's slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, were among the 15 members of the public to gain entry to the courtroom.
Simpson's two sisters, Shirley Baker and Carmelita Durio, sat in the front row of the courtroom, along with his adult daughter.
Most of the 63 seats were taken by media, lawyers and family members of the defendants.
After sentencing was over, the Goldmans left the courtroom and Kim threw her arms around her father and wept.
Simpson's sisters declined to comment, but Baker said on her way out: "It's not over."
Fred Goldman told reporters that "this is a bittersweet moment" but spoke of the satisfaction of seeing Simpson — whom he called an "SOB" and a "monster" — in shackles.
"He'll be where he belongs, with others of his kind," Goldman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.