Lawyer: OJ, Co-Defendant Face 18 Years

(AP Photo/Daniel Gluskoter, Pool)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) - O.J. Simpson and a co-defendant face a recommended 18 years in prison in the gunpoint robbery and kidnapping of two sports memorabilia dealers, according to defense
briefs and Simpson's lawyer.

Defense lawyers for the former football star and co-defendant Clarence "C.J" Stewart filed briefs Tuesday asking Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass for minimum prison terms when she sentences the two men Friday.

"If the judge chooses minimum sentences but runs them consecutively it would total 18 years," Simpson lawyer Gabriel Grasso said after filing an 11-page defense brief in response to a state Parole and Probation Division sentencing recommendation.

"We would like the judge to take our recommendation to heart and sentence (Simpson) to the minimum, six years," Grasso said.

Glass is not bound by the report and could sentence each of the men to the maximum term of life in prison.

Stewart's lawyer, Brent Bryson, also submitted a brief Tuesday asking the judge to disregard the state's sentencing recommendation.

"Stewart submits that given his minimal participation in the events ... as well as his lack of any prior criminal convictions, that (he) be sentenced to the minimum," Stewart's five-page brief said.

The brief refers to the confidential state Parole and Probation recommendation that the two men serve consecutive sentences totaling 18 years for two counts of kidnapping with a deadly weapon and two counts of armed robbery with use of a weapon.

The kidnapping charges each carry six-year sentences. Armed robbery charges each carry three-year sentences.

The brief indicates the other charges, including conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and coercion, would run concurrently.

A jury on Oct. 3 convicted Simpson and Stewart of all 12 charges against them in the Sept. 13, 2007, confrontation with the two sports memorabilia dealers at a Las Vegas casino hotel room.

Simpson maintained he went to the room to retrieve personal items, family photos and sports mementos that had been stolen from him years earlier.

"Justice requires this court impose the very minimum sentence possible in this case," Grasso wrote in Simpson's brief. "Simpson was convicted of crimes that revolve around his belief that the property he was recovering was his and at some point was taken from him."

Prosecutors characterized the encounter as a violent raid by Simpson and five other men on two unsuspecting memorabilia dealers who were lured to a hotel room by a middleman and prevented from leaving while they were held at gunpoint, frisked and robbed.

Prosecutors did not submit a sentencing memorandum to the court. Dan Kulin, spokesman for District Attorney David Roger, said prosecutors in Las Vegas usually rely on parole and probation findings.

Roger has declined comment about the case.

Simpson, 61, and Stewart, 54, are being held at the Clark County jail in Las Vegas, where Simpson's lawyers have declined repeated requests for jail interviews with the former football star and advertising pitchman. He was acquitted of murder charges in Los Angeles in the 1994 slaying of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Stewart said during an interview Monday with The Associated Press that he was preparing himself to face "a lot of time" in Nevada state prison.

"I'm not going to get upset, no matter what happens," he said.

Stewart and Bryson say they intend to appeal the conviction to the state Supreme Court. Simpson's lawyers have said they also plan to appeal.

Bryson already lost a bid for Glass to order a new trial based on allegations of juror misconduct stemming from comments the jury foreman made after the verdict, and on Glass' decision not to sever
Stewart's case from Simpson's.

"Mr. Simpson's issues became my issues," said Stewart. "They were after Mr. Simpson."

Stewart said he believed he and four former co-defendants who turned state's evidence in the case were ensnared by prosecutors'
efforts to gain a felony conviction against Simpson.

The former co-defendants - Michael McClinton, Charles Cashmore, Walter Alexander and Charles Ehrlich - face sentencing Dec. 9 after
pleading guilty to various lesser felony charges and testifying against Simpson and Stewart. Each could get probation or prison time. McClinton could get up to 11 years; the others face less.

Thomas Riccio, the collectibles broker who arranged the encounter between Simpson and memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, was granted immunity from prosecution.

"It's pitiful. It's sad," Stewart said. "Nine adults have been caught up in this. We as men have families and kids and we got caught up with this. It's ridiculous."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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