O.J. Simpson testifies in bid for new trial
CNN News Wire | 5/15/2013, 8:56 a.m.
Wearing a blue prison uniform, O.J. Simpson testified Wednesday in a Las Vegas courtroom that his former attorney advised he could use some force to reclaim personal items from sports memorabilia dealers as long as he didn't trespass.
Simpson took the witness stand in an effort to get a new trial on his armed robbery, assault and kidnapping convictions stemming from the confrontation in 2007. He insists that his attorney in that case, Yale Galanter, didn't adequately represent him during the trial a year later.
Simpson said he trusted Galanter's advice on how to get the items back. He said he believed the items were stolen and he wanted to give them to his children someday.
"The overall advice that he gave me is that you have a right to get your stuff. He gave me an example that if you're walking the street and you see your laptop in a car, you can use force to break the window of the car," Simpson told the court.
The 65-year-old former football star was convicted of leading a group of associates into a room at the Palace Station hotel and casino and using threats, guns and force to take back items from the two dealers.
Simpson testified that Galanter advised him that he could demand his property back from the dealers, and if they refused to return it, he could use some force, but he could not trespass.
Simpson didn't discuss with his attorney, however, about whether any weapons would be used in the incident. Simpson and co-defendants would later be accused of using a weapon.
Wednesday, Simpson testified that he didn't know of any weapons being present when he and five co-defendants confronted the memorabilia dealers in the hotel room.
"But I suspect" there were, he testified.
Of the five men who went with Simpson to the room, four pleaded guilty to reduced charges in exchange for their testimony at trial, but Clarence "C.J." Stewart faced a jury conviction alongside Simpson.
Stewart later won a court order for a new trial. In 2011, Stewart was sentenced to three years' probation after entering an Alford plea to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, meaning he didn't admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors could prove their case, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported then.
A deputy escorted Simpson to the stand Wednesday and unlocked the manacles binding his hands to his waist. His feet were also shackled. The former NFL player was heavier and had more gray hair than when he gained notoriety in the mid-1990s in his trial on charges of murdering his ex-wife and her friend. A jury acquitted him in that case.
In court Wednesday, Simpson recounted his working relationship with Galanter, who he said had a conflict of interest in the case and failed to mount an effective defense.
"Yale had a relationship with the media and he would go on various shows to refute the tabloid stories," Simpson said. "He had a good relationship with the media and consequently I was in the media a lot, and that gave him an opportunity to go on TV."