O.J. Simpson’s lawyer said the former football star plans to spend the next two weeks in Miami “playing golf and taking care of the kids” before returning to a Nevada courtroom to be arraigned on kidnapping and armed robbery charges that could mean life in prison.
More than a decade after his acquittal on murder charges, Simpson was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges that he and armed accomplices staged an armed robbery of sports memorabilia dealers. Simpson said he wasn’t surprised — and that he’s counting on another jury to clear him.
”If I have any disappointment it’s that I wish a jury was here,” Simpson told The Associated Press before he left the courtroom. “As always, I rely on the jury system.”
Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure refused to dismiss any charges in a 12-count complaint against Simpson and co-defendants Clarence “C.J.” Stewart and Charles “Charlie” Ehrlich, which stem from a Sept. 13 confrontation in a casino hotel room.
The decision came after a 3½-day preliminary hearing in which three men who accompanied Simpson — two who said they carried guns — testified against him as part of a plea deal.
Defense attorneys characterized the witnesses as con artists and crooks out for a buck. Outside the courthouse, Simpson attorney Yale Galanter argued that Simpson was trying only to reclaim family heirlooms and that he believed no crime was committed.
”I have never been in a case where every witness had a financial motive, where every witness had a credibility problem,” he said.
Bonaventure said there were a number of motive and credibility issues, but that they were “not so incredible or implausible” to keep the case from a jury.
The trial could begin within 60 days, but Chief Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Douglas Smith said coordinating court and lawyers’ calendars could push it back six months or longer. Galanter, who rejected the idea of a plea agreement, estimated it would take a year to bring the case to trial.
Stewart’s lawyer, Robert Lucherini, said he may seek to have his client’s trial separated from Simpson’s.
”We’re disappointed, but we understand the judge’s decision,” Lucherini said.
Ehrlich’s attorney declined to comment afterward.
All three defendants are scheduled for arraignment Nov. 28. Until then, O.J. will do “what he always does,” said Galanter. “He’ll be home and playing golf and taking care of the kids.”
In court Wednesday, Simpson’s attorneys argued that charges against him should be dropped. Another Simpson lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, said it was unclear whether prosecutors considered it kidnapping to lure two sports memorabilia dealers to a hotel room — or whether the charge was based on the confrontation that followed.
”This is clearly overcharging,” he said.
Simpson, 60, has maintained that no guns were displayed, that he never asked anyone to bring guns and that he did not know anyone had guns. He has said he intended only to retrieve items that had been stolen from him by a former agent, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Simpson and the other defendants did not testify in their own defense.
A defense lawyer contended that the case was based on the accounts of “crackheads and groupies and pimps and purveyors of stolen merchandise and gun carriers and con artists and crooks.”
”These guys are bad. The court can’t ascribe any credibility to what came out of their mouths,” attorney John Moran Jr., who represents Ehrlich, said in court. “Every witness up there was looking to sell testimony and make money off of this case.”
The witnesses corroborated one another’s stories, and recordings, video and photographs supported the charges, Prosecutor Chris Owens said. Owens offered no defense of their characters but said: “It’s not like the state went out and found the witnesses. These are people aligned with O.J. Simpson. These are the people he surrounds himself with.”