Simpson Jury Deliberates His Fate

O.J. Simpson jury begins mulling over trial evidence

O.J. Simpson's fate lies in the hands of a jury - again.

The jurors deciding the former football star's future began deliberating Friday whether Simpson and a co-defendant robbed two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a casino hotel room.

Simpson, 61, and a golfing buddy, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, 54, each face five years to life in prison if convicted of kidnapping, or mandatory prison time if convicted of armed robbery. They've pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including conspiracy, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon.

The jury was expected to deliberate through the day, and decide Friday afternoon whether to return on Saturday or take the weekend off, court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer said.

Deliberations began 13 years to the day after Simpson was acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles.

The Clark County jury of nine women and three men heard 12 days of testimony, capped by prosecutors' arguments Thursday that the Las Vegas case had its roots in the 1994 slayings.

Prosecutor Chris Owens said Simpson planned — and Stewart helped carry out — a plot to retrieve personal items that Simpson lost after squirreling them away to avoid turning them over to Goldman's family to satisfy part of a $33.5 million civil wrongful death judgment levied in 1997 by a California court.

District Attorney David Roger Simpson called Simpson the leader of a conspiracy, and said none of the men with him cared about the memorabilia he was after.

"He is the person who put these crimes together," Roger said of Simpson. "He is the one who recruited these individuals to help him commit the crimes."

Four men who accompanied Simpson, Stewart and a middle man to the Palace Station casino hotel for the Sept. 13, 2007 confrontation later pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution. Thomas Riccio, the man who arranged and recorded the meeting, testified under immunity from prosecution.

Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, told the jury the prosecution didn't prove Simpson was guilty in the criminal case that he said "has taken on a life of its own because of Mr. Simpson's involvement."

"Every cooperator, every person who had a gun, every person who had an ulterior motive, every person who signed a book deal, every person who got paid money — the police, the district attorney's office, is only interested in one thing: Mr. Simpson," Galanter said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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