Tough sentence predicted


O.J. Simpson will stand before a judge today and hope for leniency.

He faces a life sentence, but even if he doesn't get the maximum term for his kidnapping and armed robbery conviction, the 61-year-old might never see freedom again.

"He'll never get out. He'll die in there," said James "Bucky" Buchanan, a veteran Las Vegas defense lawyer.

Buchanan predicted an 11-year prison sentence for the fallen football hall of famer, who was convicted in October of the hotel room holdup of two sports memorabilia dealers at Palace Station.

John Momot, another longtime local lawyer, said District Judge Jackie Glass is tough but fair. He predicted a "substantial" prison term that stacks the sentences for the most serious crimes back to back.

"At his age, it's equivalent to a death sentence," Momot said.

The Division of Parole and Probation has recommended a minimum sentence of 18 years, which Simpson's lawyers called inappropriate and "knee-jerk" in court papers filed earlier this week.

In the same filing, lawyer Gabriel Grasso asked Glass to hand down the minimum sentence for each count and run them concurrently, 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."

Lawyers for co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart have asked for the minimum sentence, saying the 54-year-old played a limited role in the robbery and did not know guns would be used.

"In the 'real world,' Mr. Stewart does not deserve to be sentenced to the kind of time normally reserved for a defendant who has killed someone," Brent Bryson wrote in a court filing.

A jury convicted Simpson and Stewart on Oct. 3 for their roles in the Sept. 13, 2007, robbery of Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong in a Palace Station hotel room.

The conviction date was the 13-year anniversary of Simpson's acquittal in the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman.

Simpson's lawyers said he would not speak at the hearing because of his impending appeal.

"If our country has gotten to the point where your acquittals count against you, we have a major problem," said Yale Galanter, who wants to present witnesses at sentencing, notably the two memorabilia dealers who testified that Simpson robbed them.

He said Fromong and Beardsley would testify that they do not want Simpson to go to prison, but Galanter was unsure whether the judge will allow them to speak.

The district attorney's office would not comment on the case.

Ronald Goldman's sister, Kim Goldman, said she and her father want to be in the courtroom when Simpson is hauled away in chains to serve his time.

"We're going not for closure, we're going because I would like to see him shackled," she said. "I want to see him walking back through the door he came in, back to jail, as opposed to walking out the door with me and my father."

A court spokesman said the Goldmans will be treated like the rest of the public and must win courtroom seats through a raffle before this morning's 9 a.m. sentencing hearing.

Kim Goldman, whose sobs filled the courtroom during Simpson's 1995 acquittal, said his conviction still has not sunk in. She had expected the worst and was overcome with emotion when the guilty verdict came in.

"We've been handed so many disappointments along the way ... so I really didn't believe the system could work," she said.

She said her family's relentless pursuit of Simpson's assets to satisfy a $33.5 million civil judgment from a wrongful death lawsuit led to the Las Vegas incident.

According to court testimony and audio recordings, part of Simpson's motivation for the robbery involving game footballs and other memorabilia was to prevent the Goldmans from seizing it.

Kim Goldman said part of her wants to see Simpson spend the rest of his life behind bars, but she said any prison sentence would be better than letting him walk free.

"It's time, I think, that people have an opportunity to see him pay for something's he's done," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.

 

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