I lived in California during the first OJ Simpson criminal trial when he beat the rap for two brutal murders in Brentwood. Thirteen years ago yesterday, I was as stunned as the rest of the state when a Los Angeles jury managed to ignore a “mountain of evidence” to acquit Simpson. Thirteen years later, OJ discovered that Nevada juries are much less impressed with celebrity:
O.J. Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after he was acquitted of murder in 1995, was found guilty Friday of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.
The 61-year-old former football star could spend the rest of his life in prison. Sentencing was set for Dec. 5.
A weary and somber Simpson released a heavy sigh as the charges were read by the clerk in Clark County District Court. He was immediately taken into custody.
This trial was also televised, but created much less of a media feeding frenzy than in 1995. The verdict came in late last night, and Fox televised it live (via Ms. Underestimated):
The defense team tried playing the victim again, but unlike in California, no one on the Nevada jury could quite agree with the notion that six armed men breaking into a hotel room to take material by force werevictims. Yale Galanter, Simpson’s longtime attorney, tried blaming everyone else involved in this case as being motivated by material gain from exploiting what even Galanter called Simpson’s wrong-headed attempt to reclaim what was supposedly his own memorabilia. The jury, as you can see above, remained distinctly unimpressed, and convicted Simpson and C.J. Stewart on every count.
Galanter and Stewart’s attorney will appeal, the latter apparently on the grounds that Simpson should have received a separate trial. That seems like weak tea; co-defendants participating in the same crime can be tried together. They may raise questions about the veracity of the witnesses on appeal, especially since Galanter was at least correct about almost everyone profiting off of the media exposure, some within minutes of the arrest. An appeals court will likely reject that as a credibility issue best judged by the jury itself. Very likely, Simpson will get a 15-to-life sentence that will keep him behind bars for at least a decade — and there’s a small chance that some of these may get stacked consecutively, which would be a life sentence.
Celebrities do get convicted of crimes after all. Just not in California.