Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

May 20, 2013

OJ Simpson lawyers say he is closer to freedom

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The latest high-stakes court hearing for O.J. Simpson in the glitzy capital of big gambles has come to a close with the former football star's defense team feeling confident that their client is closer to getting out of prison.

The last time Simpson was in a Las Vegas courtroom, he was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery. Now, with a new team of attorneys on his side, he has mounted a cool, methodical case that his former lead lawyer botched the 2008 trial so badly that a new one should be granted.

"He has a very good chance now," said Ozzie Fumo, one of the attorneys who represented Simpson. "I don't think the state was able to counter any of our issues."

Simpson's lawyers presented evidence that showed Miami-based attorney Yale Galanter shared responsibility for the ill-conceived plan for the NFL Hall of Famer and former Hollywood star to take back personal items and mementos from two sports collectible dealers in a Vegas hotel room. They also built a case that he deliberately sabotaged Simpson's chances for acquittal and appeal to protect himself and his own self-interests.

When the weeklong hearing ended Friday there seemed to be little doubt that major mistakes were made when Simpson was sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison on 12 criminal counts. The real question is whether enough was done to meet the high standard needed for District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell to free Simpson from state prison and grant him a new trial.

The final witness she heard from was Galanter, who defended his actions in a tense courtroom standoff with Simpson and his new representatives Friday.

As Simpson's legal team worked to portray Galanter as hungry for the money and fame that could come from an O.J. trial, the lawyer said it was Simpson who agreed to spend more than a half a million dollars on his defense, turned down a plea bargain and decided not to testify.

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