Judge denies O.J. Simpson a new trial

By John M. Glionna

Los Angeles Times

LAS VEGAS -- Disgraced athlete O.J. Simpson on Tuesday was denied a new trial on his 2008 convictions for robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas, which sent him to prison for up to 33 years.

Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell ruled that for now, the 66-year-old will have to remain behind bars. Simpson, who will be 70 before he is eligible for parole, had sought a new trial, claiming incompetent legal counsel.

"We’re obviously very disappointed in the judge’s decision," said Osvaldo Fumo, one of Simpson’s attorneys. "We plan to appeal the case."

In May, the fallen Hall of Fame running back and Heisman Trophy winner from USC sat shackled to his seat, looking much heavier than his playing days, as witnesses testified about events leading up to the night in 2007 when he and several friends stormed into a $39-a-night hotel room here demanding the return of sports memorabilia Simpson said had been stolen from him.

Defense lawyers argued that he was merely trying to recover property that was rightfully his. Simpson has said he didn’t know that the five men who accompanied him to the Palace Station hotel had guns. But he was convicted in the gunpoint robbery and kidnapping of two sports memorabilia dealers.

Simpson had hoped that Bell would void his convictions and grant him a second chance in court. Simpson’s lawyers say the former NFL star’s attorney in the first trial, Miami-based Yale Galanter, offered shoddy legal counsel that led to the conviction.

Simpson’s high-profile trial over the hotel room break-in was not nearly as sensational as his first collision with the justice system.

In 1995, he was acquitted in Los Angeles of murdering his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. In a subsequent civil trial, Simpson was found liable for civil damages of $33.5 million.