As a co-defendant in one of Las Vegas' most notorious criminal cases, Clarence "C.J." Stewart was overshadowed by the larger-than-life figure of O.J. Simpson.
Unlike the Pro Football Hall of Fame running back known as "The Juice," Stewart wasn't swarmed by the media and public each morning when he entered the courthouse for trial. And no one followed him from the courthouse each night as he left.
Despite his low-key presence, Stewart faces the same fate as his high-profile co-defendant when they are sentenced Dec. 5. Both men could be sentenced up to life in prison after being convicted on all charges in last year's hotel room holdup of two sports memorabilia dealers at Palace Station.
Speaking from the Clark County jail, Stewart, 54, said he is devastated by the convictions and has a hard time believing he has been found guilty. He also is upset that Simpson hasn't apologized for dragging him into the mess.
"O.J. owes me an apology," he said. "You can't play with a person's life."
Stewart said he's not even close friends with Simpson, a man he has known for about six years, mostly through their interactions in golf and business.
"They made it look like we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together," he said.
Stewart, who is soft-spoken and talks with a slight Louisiana accent, claims to be the first person in his family to ever be arrested. Before he was accused of kidnapping and robbery, the father of four lived a quiet life working in the finance industry.
He always taught his children to stay away from the criminal element, which makes his arrest and subsequent conviction all the more painful for him, he said.
"They're (his children) telling me to hold on," he said. "They say we have nothing to be ashamed of."
His children are grown, and three finished college. They're deeply hurt by the case, and his son refuses to watch television because of the publicity surrounding the incident, he said.
Stewart's attorney, Brent Bryson, lost an attempt to get a new trial for Stewart based on jury misconduct.
He also lost repeated requests to separate Stewart's trial from Simpson's.
Both issues will likely be included in an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court after sentencing.
Simpson's lawyers have also promised an appeal.
Bryson said he's starting a Web site to provide updates on Stewart's case and collect donations for his legal defense. Bryson said he received more than 20 letters supporting Stewart.
"They thought he got a raw deal," he said.
Authorities charged Stewart, Simpson and four other men with robbing and kidnapping two memorabilia dealers in September 2007. Prosecutors said Simpson coordinated the robbery to take back some of the sports memorabilia that he thought had been stolen from him.
After the month-long trial, a jury convicted Simpson and Stewart on all 12 counts, including first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon.
Both men have been in custody since the Oct. 3 verdict.
Attorneys said the charges would be the same if Stewart and Simpson went to a convenience store, tied up the employees, pointed shotguns at their heads and robbed them.
Stewart said he never knew guns were going to be brought to the hotel room.
Stewart initially was housed with Simpson at the Clark County Detention Center, but they are in different areas now, Stewart said.
Stewart spends time counseling younger inmates, who respect him, he said. No one has abused him, and the guards have treated him well, he said.
One of the toughest things about being in jail is the bad food, said Stewart, whose usual diet of Creole food has been replaced by a daily meal of prepared potatoes.
"The food isn't great," he said.
He is preparing himself for sentencing and hopes he'll be found innocent one day.
"This case has cost me just about everything I had."
Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.