O.J. Simpson sentenced to up to 33 years in prison

Fri Dec 5, 2008 5:47pm EST
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By Steve Gorman

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - O.J. Simpson, acquitted in a murder trial that gripped America more than a decade ago, was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison on Friday for kidnapping and robbery in a bungled attempt to recover memorabilia of his storied sports career.

Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass ruled that Simpson, 61, who was known as "The Juice" during his days with the National Football League and later appeared in several movies, would be eligible for parole after nine years.

The retired star athlete had been found guilty two months ago of all 12 charges against him for last year's gunpoint holdup of two sports collectors in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Shackled and dressed in blue prison garb, Simpson appeared somber as the sentence was pronounced. Minutes earlier he had pleaded for leniency, saying he had only meant to retrieve personal possessions he believed were wrongly taken from him.

"I didn't mean to hurt anybody, and I didn't mean to steal anything," he said, his husky voice trembling with emotion.

Defense lawyer Yale Galanter insisted Simpson acted foolishly, though not out of criminal intent. But Glass was unmoved, saying, "It was much more than stupidity."

Before his downfall, Simpson had not only been a sports hero in the 1960s and 1970s, but also the very picture of American success and celebrity.

Simpson has been in custody since he was convicted of the hotel room robbery on October 3.   Continued...

<p>O.J. Simpson listens with his attorneys Gabriel Grasso (L) and Yale Galanter as District Court Judge Jackie Glass (not in photo) reads his sentence at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada December 5, 2008. REUTERS/Issac Brekken/POOL</p>