A Las Vegas judge has set April 7 for the trial of O.J. Simpson and two co-defendants on 12 charges stemming from the alleged robbery of two men who traffic in sports memorabilia.
During a proceeding that took less than 10 minutes yesterday, the three pleaded not guilty before Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass. Defense lawyers said they would file motions in the coming months challenging the charges.
Accompanied by his lawyers, Simpson flashed a smile at television cameras as he entered the building to deal with his latest confrontation with the legal system. He seemed at ease, sitting on a railing and smiling as he talked to people in the courtroom before the judge entered.
He appeared similarly at ease as he left, entering his vehicle and again flashing his famous grin. He did not speak.
"Mr. Simpson is glad that the arraignment is over with," his lawyer, Yale Galanter, said at a brief news conference. "He is glad that he doesn't have to come back to Vegas until April."
Galanter said the trial could last two months and the bulk of the time would be spent on jury selection, finding jurors who could judge Simpson on the current charges and not on his previous entanglements with the law.
After a successful football career, Simpson became known for being acquitted in 1995 on charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
"I don't think anyone is ever ready to go through the rigors of a trial, but that is the situation we are faced with and we're certainly going to do the best we can," Galanter said.
In the current case, Simpson, 60, who lives in Miami, is charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, coercion and conspiracy in connection with a Sept. 13 confrontation with the sports dealers. If convicted, Simpson could face life in prison on the kidnapping charge and mandatory prison time on the robbery charge.
Simpson says he entered the hotel room to recover personal property that had been stolen by a former agent. The prosecution says Simpson, along with Clarence Stewart and Charles Ehrlich, both 53, took tens of thousands of dollars' worth of sports collectibles not tied to the star.
Michael Muskal writes for the Los Angeles Times.