Jury selection for the O. J. Simpson trial on robbery and kidnapping charges started Monday in Las Vegas, but the judge was adamant that prospective jurors not be influenced by Simpson’s 1995 murder trial.
In the controversial case, Simpson was acquitted of the slaying of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, although he was later found civilly liable for their deaths.
“If you are here to think that you’re going to punish Mr. Simpson for what happened in Los Angeles back in ’95, this is not the case for you,” Judge Jackie Glass told the jury pool.
If convicted on all counts, Simpson could receive up to life in prison.
The case comes nearly a year after Simpson, Clarence Stewart and four other men allegedly stormed into the Palace Station Hotel in Las Vegas on Sept. 13, 2007, to recover sports memorabilia that Simpson said belonged to him.
Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, two sports memorabilia dealers, were in the room and expected to meet a wealthy collector who wanted to buy Simpson memorabilia. Instead, Simpson and several other men barged in and held the men at gunpoint.
Four of Simpson’s five original co-defendants have struck deals with the prosecution to testify against Simpson. One testified in a pretrial hearing that “O. J. Simpson wanted me to have a weapon.” Prosecutors say at least two men with Simpson had guns as they robbed a pair of sports memorabilia dealers.
In all, 40 prospective jurors are needed to pass the questioning process before challenges from lawyers on each side reduce their numbers to 12 jurors and six alternates.
Glass said she hopes to start testimony in the trial next week.