- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 5, 2008

LAS VEGAS | In a city where luck means everything, O.J. Simpson came out the big loser - and his unlucky number in a case full of bizarre twists was 13.

He was convicted of an armed robbery that happened on Sept. 13 and was found guilty on the 13th anniversary of his Los Angeles murder acquittal. The Las Vegas jury deliberated for 13 hours after a 13-day trial.

And then, as only the racking sobs of Simpson’s sister broke the silence late Friday, the lights went out. Court marshals flipped on flashlights and shouted for everyone to stay seated. Only the judge knew what had happened. It was 11 p.m. and the courthouse lights had shut down automatically.

“Timed out,” Judge Jackie Glass said in a fitting epitaph for the story of O.J. Simpson, which has long haunted America.

The 61-year-old Hall of Fame football star was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering five men a year ago and storming into a room at a hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said Simpson asked him to bring a gun.



Simpson was handcuffed and led from the room with his co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart.

Simpson and Stewart were taken to the Clark County jail, where the football star will live in a 7-by-14-foot cell, far removed from his ranch-style home in the lush Miami suburbs. It will be his home until at least Dec. 5, when he and Stewart are scheduled to be sentenced. They would then be sent to state prison, where they both could spend the rest of their lives.

“There is justice,” said lawyer Gloria Allred, who has represented the family of Simpson’s slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. “Justice was delayed, but in this case it was not denied. Now that he may spend the rest of his life in prison, the law, and not O.J. Simpson, will have the last word.”

The Las Vegas case paled in comparison to the “trial of the century” in 1995, a yearlong opus in which Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman. A rapt nation followed the Los Angeles trial. Tales of a gruesome murder and a bloody glove, as well as the celebrity defendant, drew a media frenzy.

In Las Vegas, Simpson’s fate played out in a small courtroom dotted with empty seats. Even the stunning verdict came as most of America slept, oblivious to the irony that Simpson might spend the rest of his life in prison for what most perceived as a petty crime, a tussle among dysfunctional middle-aged men.

Simpson’s Las Vegas defense tried to tell the jury that the two cases had nothing to do with each other, but it was a losing battle.

“O.J. was toxic, and he has been toxic since 1994, and this jury was just ready to clean up the mess,” Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson said.

Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter said Saturday he felt bad for Simpson but even worse for Stewart, who he said got dragged along in a campaign to convict Simpson.

“This was just payback,” he said of the verdict. “They were on an agenda.”

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