Former sports star O. J. Simpson has been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for charges that include armed robbery and kidnapping. Simpson was earlier at the center of one of the biggest U.S. murder cases of the 1990s.
Simpson, a former star of American football and one-time Hollywood actor, is now 61 years old, and he apologized Friday as he faced sentencing in a Las Vegas courtroom. Simpson and a former friend were convicted October 3 of 12 criminal charges for an armed confrontation in a Las Vegas hotel room. Simpson maintains he was retrieving stolen property from two dealers in sports memorabilia. "I realize now, I was stupid. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to steal anything from anybody and I didn't know I was doing anything illegal. I thought I was confronting friends and retrieving my property," he said.
Simpson was acquitted in a 1995 murder trial of the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The media billed it the trial of the century. Simpson was later found responsible for Goldman's death in a civil lawsuit, and was found responsible for the battery of his ex-wife. He was widely believed to have gotten away with murder.
The sentences could keep Simpson in prison from 15 to 33 years, but he may be eligible for parole in just nine years. Fred Goldman, whose son, Ron, was one of the victims in the double-killing, says Friday's outcome was bittersweet, but brings no closure. "There's never closure. Ron is always gone. And what we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs behind bars."
Judge Jackie Glass had instructed jurors to decide the Las Vegas case on its merits and she said the sentence was not related to the deaths of Goldman and Simpson's former wife.
Simpson's lawyers say they plan to appeal. They have argued that the publicity surrounding the earlier murder trial made a fair trial impossible this time. The judge has ruled that Simpson cannot be free on bail pending appeal.