O.J. Simpson's robbery trial to be delayed until September
Saturday, March 8, 2008
LAS VEGAS — A judge agreed Friday to delay the armed robbery and kidnapping trial for O.J. Simpson and two co-defendants until September to give the defense more time to prepare.
Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass also refused throw out the charges against the former football star, and refused to separate his trial from co-defendants Charles Ehrlich and Clarence "C.J." Stewart.
In her ruling to push the trial to Sept. 8, Glass acknowledged it took longer than expected for prosecutors to analyze and enhance tape recordings, transcripts and fingerprints and turn them over to the defense to prepare for trial, which had been set initially for April 7.
The judge issued a stern warning to lawyers that "there should be absolutely, positively no reason" to postpone trial again.
"If you even dare to come to me before the next trial setting and tell me of something that didn't get done, then shame on you," Glass said.
Simpson, Ehrlich and Stewart are accused of kidnapping and robbing two sports collectibles dealers in a September meeting in a room at a Las Vegas hotel-casino. Simpson maintains he was retrieving items that belonged to him and that no guns were involved.
Kidnapping, the most serious charge, carries the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole. But the judge indicated that prosecutors have presented little evidence to support the kidnap charge.
"At first blush, I said, 'Where's the kidnapping?'" Glass said. But she concluded that evidence presented during a November preliminary hearing met the "slight or marginal evidence" threshold to be put before a jury.
Galanter, Ehrlich's attorney, John Moran Jr., and lawyers for Stewart won the delay in starting the trial after complaining that the number of prospective prosecution witnesses grew to 82 names when several more expert witnesses were added Thursday. They had said they needed more time to prepare for cross-examinations.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger declined to comment Friday. He had characterized efforts to delay the trial as an attempt to sever Simpson's trial from those of his co-defendants.
Outside court, Moran said he changed his mind and would not appeal the decision to try the three men together.
"We're not going to appeal at this time," Moran said. "We were more concerned about the trial date and getting some more time to prepare."
Stewart's lawyer, Robert Lucherini, said he had not decided whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Glass said she expected jury selection and a trial will take up to six weeks.
Simpson did not appear at the hearing, though Ehrlich and Stewart were there. Both declined to comment while defense lawyers and prosecutors met with the judge.
They have pleaded not guilty to all charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
Glass heard arguments on 18 motions by defense lawyers and four motions by prosecutors, including requests to limit evidence and lines of questioning during trial.
The judge decided against a jury field trip to the hotel, but said she will allow a questionnaire aimed at weeding out would-be jurors whose opinions about Simpson or the case might taint others in the jury pool. Glass asked Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter and co-counsel Gabriel Grasso to submit proposed juror questions by April 10.
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles contributed to this report.