OJ Simpson testifies in bid to win freedom
LAS VEGAS (AP) — More than four years after the world last heard from O.J. Simpson in court, one of the nation's most famous prisoners spoke again Wednesday in a bid to win freedom from a sentence that could keep him behind bars until he dies.
Simpson took the stand to testify about his legal representation by attorney Yale Galanter in the case involving a strange hotel room confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers that led to a robbery-kidnap conviction.
Under questioning by his co-counsel, Patricia Palm, Simpson began discussing his background with Galanter.
"Yale had a good relationship with the media," Simpson said. "I was in the media a lot. He was able to refute many of the tabloid stories," Simpson said. "He sort of liked doing it; he told me he did."
Simpson, with short graying hair and receding hairline, dressed in drab prison blue scrubs, spoke calmly and looked straight at Palm
In 2008, he was near tears as he told a judge: "I didn't mean to steal anything from anybody ... I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of it."
There is no jury in the hearing and his fate will be determined by Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell.
"He's been wanting to tell his story. He's excited about telling his story," said Simpson attorney Ozzie Fumo.
When he went to trial in 2008 on charges of armed robbery and kidnapping, Simpson did not testify — a decision that one of his lawyers said was pushed upon him by another attorney he trusted so completely that he took his bad advice.
"It's going to be a long day," Palm said Tuesday. "He's going to have to testify to every point in the petition. But they can't do a little mini-retrial."
With 19 points raised to support reversal in the writ of habeas corpus, Simpson was expected to answer many questions from his lawyers and then undergo cross-examination by an attorney for the state who wants to keep him in prison.
"He is anxious, and it's hard for him when he hears testimony that he wants to refute," Palm said of the 65-year-old former football hall of famer and actor.
Simpson is testifying midway through a five-day evidentiary hearing. He's serving nine to 33 years in prison for his conviction on armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges in a 2007 gunpoint confrontation. Simpson has said, and is likely to repeat, that he never saw any guns.
Attorney Gabriel Grasso was Simpson's star witness, the Las Vegas lawyer who joined the case when his old friend, Galanter, called and said, "Hey Gabe, want to be famous?"
He said he soon realized he would be doing most of the behind the scenes work while Galanter made the decisions.
"I could advise O.J. all day long, and he was very respectful of me," Grasso told the court. "But if I advised him of something different from what Yale said, he would do what Yale said."
It was Galanter's decision not to have Simpson testify, Grasso said.
Under questioning from H. Leon Simon, attorney for the state, Grasso acknowledged the trial judge, Jackie Glass, specifically asked Simpson if he wanted to testify and he said no.
"Mr. Galanter told him, 'This is the way it's going to be,'" Grasso said, adding he would have put him on the stand.