LAS VEGAS (CN) – O.J. Simpson was sentenced today to at least 9 years in prison for robbing two sports memorabilia dealers in a hotel room last year. Before sentencing, a shackled, raspy-voiced and teary-eyed Simpson apologized to the court.
“I stand before you today sorry, somewhat confused,” Simpson, 61, told Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass through tears before sentencing. “I wasn’t there to hurt anyone. I’m sorry, I’m sorry for all of it.”
Before handing down her sentence, Glass gave Simpson a tongue-lashing.
“Earlier in this case … I said … I didn’t know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both,” Glass said. “During the trial and through this proceeding, I got the answer, and it was both.”
Simpson’s last-remaining co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, got at least 7.5 years behind bars.
Both were convicted by a jury of non-blacks on Oct. 3 on all 12 counts against them, including armed robbery and kidnapping, for stealing sports memorabilia from Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong at the Palace Station Hotel in September 2007.
The entire incident was secretly tape-recorded by Tom Riccio, a memorabilia broker who set up the meeting. Jurors said after the conviction that they relied solely on the tapes to reach their guilty verdicts.
Under Nevada law, both Simpson and Stewart are eligible for parole. Simpson could serve as many as 33 years. He won’t be eligible for parole until after serving nine years. Stewart could serve as many as 27 years, and won’t be eligible for parole until 7.5 years.
Attorneys for both Simpson and Stewart plan to appeal, but seemed somewhat pleased with the sentencing.
“It could’ve been a lot worse,” Simpson attorney Yale Galanter said after sentencing. “We think Judge Glass’ ruling was appropriate.”
He also said Simpson’s comments before sentencing were not last minute. “It was planned for days,” he said. “It was straight from the heart. He’s very emotional (and) extremely remorseful.”
District Attorney David Roger, however, was unmoved by Simpson’s speech.
“His words rang hollow with me,” Roger said during a news conference after the sentence.
The Oct. 3 verdict came exactly 13 years after Simpson was acquitted in 1995 for the 1994 stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson was later found liable for the deaths in a 1997 civil lawsuit and ordered to pay the Goldmans $35 million.
Ronald Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, and his sister, Kim, wept when the sentence was read.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Goldman said at a news conference outside the courthouse while 300 protesters shouted obscenities at him and waved offensive banners. “It was satisfying seeing him in shackles where he belongs.”
When asked if the verdict brought him closure, Fred Goldman replied: “There’s never closure. Ron is always gone. What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs behind bars.”
Galanter called the Goldmans’ presence in the courtroom inappropriate.
“We tried to put a brick wall” between the current case and the 1994 murder trial, Galanter said. Their presence, he said, “Really made us all aware that it’s very difficult to separate the Nevada case from the California case.”