Judge Orders O.J. Simpson to Stand Trial

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More than a decade after his acquittal on murder charges, a judge ruled that O.J. Simpson will stand trial and again face the possibility of life imprisonment.

The former football star said he wasn't surprised when a justice ordered him to stand trail on charges ranging from kidnapping to armed robbery.

"If I have any disappointment it's that I wish a jury was here," Simpson told The Associated Press. "As always, I rely on the jury system."

Indeed, it's worked for him in the past, somehow.

Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure refused to dismiss any charges in a 12-count complaint against O.J. Simpson and co-defendants Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles "Charlie" Ehrlich, stemming from a suspected kidnapping and robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers on September 13.

O.J. Simpson and two co-defendants will be arraigned November 28.

Three of the men who accompanied O.J. Simpson on his little "sting operation," including two who said O.J. wanted to "bring some heat" to the meeting, took plea deals and testified for the prosecution in the preliminary hearing.

Defense attorneys characterized them as con artists out for a buck.

Bonaventure said there were a number of motive and credibility issues, but that they were "not so incredible or implausible" to keep the case from a jury trial.

A kidnapping conviction could result in a life sentence with possibility of parole. An armed robbery conviction would also require some time in prison.

O.J. Simpson will spend the next two weeks in Miami golfing and spending time with family before returning for arraignment, his attorney, Yale Galanter, said.

The trial could begin within 60 days, but Chief Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Douglas Smith said coordinating court and lawyers' calendars could push it back six months or longer.

Yale Galanter, who rejected the idea of a plea agreement for OJ Simpson, estimated it would take a year to bring the case to trial.

Stewart's lawyer, Robert Lucherini, said he may seek to have his client's trial separated from Simpson's.

"We're disappointed, but we understand the judge's decision," he said.

Ehrlich's attorney declined to comment.

Outside the courthouse, Yale Galanter argued that Simpson was trying only to reclaim family heirlooms and that he believed no crime was committed.

"I have never been in a case where every witness had a financial motive, where every witness had a credibility problem," Galanter said.

Another OJ Simpson legal team member, Gabriel Grasso, said it was unclear why prosecutors are making these claims and what is considered kidnapping - the luring of the two sports memorabilia dealers to the room, or the confrontation that then took place. Grasson believes the charges are trumped up.

"This is clearly overcharging," he said.

O.J. Simpson, 60, has maintained that no guns were displayed, that he never asked anyone to bring guns and that he did not know anyone had guns.

He has said he intended only to retrieve items stolen from him by a former agent, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted of murder for the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman.

OJ Simpson and the other defendants did not testify at the hearing.

Defense lawyers contend that the case was based mostly on the accounts of "crack heads, groupies, pimps and purveyors of stolen merchandise and gun carriers."

"These guys are bad. The court can't ascribe any credibility to what came out of their mouths," said attorney John Moran Jr., who represents Ehrlich. "Every witness up there was looking to sell testimony and make money."

Prosecutor Chris Owens offered no defense of their character but said:

"It's not like the state went out and found the witnesses. These are people aligned with O.J. Simpson. These are the people he surrounds himself with."

Michael McClinton, Walter Alexander and Charles Cashmore all struck plea bargain deals with prosecutors and testified against Simpson.

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