O.J. Simpson sentenced to 15 years in jail for kidnapping

December 6th, 2008 - 4:43 am ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, Dec 6 (DPA) Former American football star O.J. Simpson was sentenced to 15 years in jail Friday for his part in an armed robbery and kidnapping case in Las Vegas last year.Lawyers for Simpson, who was controversially acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, said they would appeal.

Simpson, 61, was convicted in October of 12 charges stemming from the incident in which he and his cohorts used guns to force two sports memorabilia dealers to hand over a number of items that Simpson believed to have been stolen from him.

Simpson’s co-defendant Clarence Stewart was sentenced to 15 years in jail and will, like Simpson, be eligible for parole in five years.

Appearing close to tears, Simpson addressed the court for the first time Friday saying that he was remorseful and apologetic, and that he was merely trying to recover family heirlooms.

“I realize now that I was stupid, I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for all of it,” said Simpson, who had previously appeared unapologetic throughout all his legal travails.

But Judge Jackie Glass said his claims had little bearing on her decision. “Everything in this case was on tape and it was your own words that have brought you here because we heard it all and what came out on the tapes (gave) evidence in this case was overwhelming,” she told the court.

“That was a violent event, guns were brought, at least one gun was drawn, the potential for harm in that room was tremendous,” she said. “You knew what was going on there. I have to tell you now that it was much more than stupidity.”

Prior to sentencing, Simpson’s attorneys had argued that Simpson should receive the minimum sentence, six years. Prosecutors asked for 18 years in jail.

Simpson has been held in isolation in jail since his October conviction. Because of his celebrity he will remain in solitary confinement during his jail term.

Simpson’s lawyers claimed that the jury was unduly influenced by his criminal history, but Glass insisted that she took no notice of that case.

In arguing for the minimum sentence, Simpson’s legal team also pointed to his lack of prior criminal history. They admitted that his judgment in the incident was faulty but pointed out that no-one was hurt and that there were extenuating circumstances.

The case revolved around an incident in September 2007, when Simpson travelled from his Florida home to Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding.

But while there he heard that memorabilia dealers were trying to sell items from his football career and organised a group of friends to try and retrieve them. In the case, jurors heard evidence that Simpson’s gang burst into the dealers’ hotel room, threatened them with guns and prevented them from leaving until they returned the items in question.

Simpson was arrested the day after the incident by Las Vegas police.

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