OJ Simpson appears for the second day of an evidentiary hearing in Las Vegas (AP Photo/Ethan Miller, Pool)
Las Vegas

OJ Simpson in a last-ditch effort to get new trial

Simpson is serving nine to 33 years in prison for his 2008 conviction in the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.

FORMER FOOTBALL STAR OJ Simpson took the witness stand in a Las Vegas courthouse yesterday, seeking to get a new trial after being convicted five years ago for his part in a robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Simpson says he was so badly represented by a lawyer who had conflicted interests that he deserves a new trial.

He was shackled at the ankles and wrists for the hearings in Las Vegas, which began Monday. He appears grayer, bulkier and somewhat weary, but smiled at friends and family in the courtroom. Ten witnesses were called over the first two days of the hearing, with Simpson being called yesterday.

Speaking in court he said:

It was my stuff. I followed what I thought was the law. My lawyer told me I couldn’t break into a guy’s room. I didn’t break into anybody’s room. I didn’t try to muscle the guys. The guys had my stuff, even though they claimed they didn’t steal it.

The focus has been on the promises, payment and performance of longtime Simpson attorney Yale Galanter, who represented Simpson at trial and stayed with the case through oral arguments in a 2010 appeal that was rejected by the Nevada Supreme Court. Galanter is due to testify Friday. He has declined comment ahead of that appearance.

A psychiatrist, Dr Gregory Brown was also called to testify and to rebut an earlier testimony from a psychiatrist, Dr Norton Roitman, who suggested that Simpson’s perception of what happened in the hotel room may have been narrowed by sleeplessness, stress and the effects of several hours drinking alcohol before the confrontation.

Grounds for new trial

Simpson highlighted main points of his writ of habeas corpus petition seeking a new trial on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. His points were succinct:

  • His lawyer advised him he could not be convicted and urged him not to testify in his own defense. He said had he known he could be convicted, he would have testified.
  • He was never told that Galanter was having preliminary discussions with prosecutors about a potential plea deal that could have limited his prison term to two to five years and perhaps resulted in probation. Prosecutors said Galanter broke off negotiations and they assumed Simpson had turned it down. If he had taken the deal, he would have been out by now.
  • He met with his lawyer the night before the hotel room confrontation and informed him that he planned to reclaim his possessions from memorabilia dealers. The lawyer said he was within his rights as long as there was no trespass or violence.

There is no jury in the hearing and Simpson’s fate will be determined by District Judge Linda Marie Bell. It remained unclear whether the judge plans to make an immediate ruling or issue a written order later.

While Simpson’s previous court cases were media sensations, including his 1995 acquittal in the Los Angeles killings of his ex-wife and her friend, the Las Vegas hearing drew less attention until Simpson testified and the courtroom was full.

Simpson family members and friends filled one row. A marshal turned people away, sending them to an overflow room where video was streamed live.

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Associated Foreign Press
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