Clark County Courts marshals were turning people away from the packed courtroom where O.J. Simpson is scheduled to be sentenced this morning.
“There is zero chance — zero — that you will get in this courtroom,” one deputy marshal told a group of people minutes before the hearing was to begin.
Simpson, 61, and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, were convicted of all counts in October for their roles in last year’s armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers at Palace Station.
Courts spokesman Michael Sommermeyer said about 75 people had filled the courtroom, including members of both defendants’ families, before the 9 a.m.
hearing. More than 30 members of news organizations had spots in the courtroom of District Judge Jackie Glass.
The spokesman said about 10 members of the public were allowed in the courtroom before it was filled.
Immediately after the verdicts were read in October, Simpson and Stewart were handcuffed and taken into custody to await today’s hearing. Each man faces the possibility of a life sentence.
The state Division of Parole and Probation has recommended a minimum sentence of 18 years for Simpson, who was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the Los Angeles slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Sommermeyer said members of Goldman’s family were among those who received courtroom seats that were given to members of the public.
On Oct. 3, exactly 13 years after the acquittal, a Las Vegas jury convicted Simpson and Stewart of robbing Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong in a Palace Station hotel room.
During the 3 1/2-week trial, Simpson’s lawyers portrayed him as a man who simply sought to recover game-used footballs, plaques and other cherished family heirlooms that had been stolen from him a decade ago.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, painted a picture of a ringleader who orchestrated the armed stickup to exact revenge against his estranged former agent and the man Simpson believed had stolen his property.
In a court document, defense lawyer Gabriel Grasso asked Glass to give Simpson the minimum sentence for each of the 12 guilty verdicts the jury returned. Grasso also asked the judge to make each sentence concurrent, which would give Simpson a chance at parole after six years.
“This was an individual who truly believed he was not committing a crime and that the law permitted the recovery of one’s own property,” Grasso wrote. “Even the harshest of Mr. Simpson’s critics would agree that these were not the acts of a hardened criminal mind.”
Stewart’s lawyers also have asked for the minimum penalty, arguing that he played a limited role in the robbery and did not know guns would be used.
Lawyers for both defendants have said they will appeal the robbery convictions.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135.