O.J. Simpson co-defendant freed from prison in deal

Tue Jan 4, 2011 8:16pm EST
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LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - O.J. Simpson's co-defendant in a Las Vegas robbery case has been released from prison after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, the Clark County district attorney said on Tuesday.

Clarence "C.J." Stewart, 56, entered a plea before a Nevada judge, Clark County District Attorney David Roger said, and was expected to spend the next nine months under house arrest.

Under the type of plea he entered, a defendant does not admit that he is guilty but concedes that prosecutors would have enough evidence to prove the case against him at a trial.

Stewart was convicted in 2008 of helping Simpson, a former football star who was famously acquitted of murder in 1995, in a bungled attempt to recover his own memorabilia from a pair of sports dealers at a Las Vegas hotel.

The Nevada Supreme Court overturned Stewart's conviction last October, ruling that he had been denied a fair trial because he was put on trial alongside Simpson. He has served 27 months of a 7 1/2 to 27-year prison term.

"We offered both Mr. Simpson and Mr. Stewart plea negotiations during the trial which would have required them to spend 30 months in prison," Roger said.

"Because Mr. Stewart was coming to us asking for a deal after he had already rejected 30 months, the idea was he would spend 36 months," he said.

Roger said a Las Vegas judge must still accept the plea agreement and that Stewart could be returned to prison if he violates the terms of his probation.

The prosecutor said Simpson, who was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison, would not be given the same plea agreement because he rejected the deal during trial and his conviction had not been overturned.   Continued...