Jury Close to Final in O.J. Trial -Judge Jackie Glass gives jury instructions after attorneys haggle over Nevada law and the meaning of legal intent
By Stacey Silberman
HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS)10/3/08 – As reported by Hollywood Today, attorneys on both sides of the O.J. Simpson armed robbery and kidnapping trial laid out persuasive closing arguments Thursday in a case which has all the elements of a three ring circus, with several clowns and a ringleader at the center of the debacle, attracting the attention of the public and media, and has sent both Simpson and Clarence “C.J.” Stewart into a show they’d rather not perform.
The prosecution states its scenario for Simpson’s state of mind on the night of September 13, 2007, in tiny room 1203 at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger asserts Simpson, 61, was at the center of a conspiracy to commit armed robbery and painted him as the sole catalyst for the alleged crimes saying, “He is the person who put these crimes together. He is the one who recruited these individuals to help him commit the crimes.”
Stewart, 54, allegedly aided and abetted friend O.J.
During the prosecution’s closing argument, DA Roger made it crystal clear that O.J. Simpson was the sole person in the group who cared about the memorabilia and it was his personal mission to get his hands on the stuff.
“We have so much more than a coordinated series of acts,” argued Roger. “We have words that come out of the defendants’ mouths themselves.”
In addition, jurors have the advantage of hearing for themselves, audio recordings of the events, which corroborate testimony of the state’s four witnesses, who participated in the alleged robbery.
Prosecutors argue that the fallen football hero knew about the guns carried by Walter Alexander and Michael McClinton. Roger also asserts that Simpson requested the guns and that he told his security boys to carry them to intimidate the victims.
However, the defense paints an entirely different portrait for the nine women and three men sitting on the jury panel.
Simpson defense attorney Yale Galanter portrays his client as the victim in the case.
“This case has taken on a life of its own because Mr. Simpson is involved,” Galanter argued. “They were competing over who could get to the tabloid shows first.” They, being the victims in the case, to key witness Thomas Riccio, and state’s witnesses and gunmen McClinton and Alexander.
“You hear the Las Vegas Police Department being surreptitiously recorded,” Galanter told the jury. “They are making jokes; they’re saying things like â€˜We’re going to get him.'”
The men were alluding to the 1995 acquittal for Simpson of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman. It’s widely thought that Simpson did commit the murders and that he would not get away with anything this time.
Galanter then played an excerpt of the recording for jurors saying, “That’s how this case got started. Yup, they wanted to get him.”
The prosecution took jurors down memory lane playing clips of the Riccio tapes of the Palms Hotel poolside planning and into replaying the incident which took place in room 1203, betraying Simpson’s yelling, audible demeanor, and his barking orders for the gang of five large men to keep victims captive.
Then the prosecution addressed the defense claim that Simpson was unaware of the gun before, during, and after the hotel room confrontation.
“It was Mr. Simpson who primed Mr. McClinton and Mr. Alexander out in the parking lot that the victims might have guns,” Roger said. “It was Mr. Simpson who told Mr. McClinton outside the hotel room to â€˜Show them your gun and look menacing.’ “
“In the state of Nevada, we are a civilized society,” Roger implored the jury. “If property is taken from us, we don’t go into rooms with guns and demand our property. That is robbery.”
Roger replayed the tape again, showing why he was charged with kidnapping after showing that Simpson intimidated and frightened victims Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.
“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, â€˜Don’t let anybody out of here,’ that’s kidnapping,” said Roger.
On the other hand, defense attorney Galanter pointed out that both of the victims, Riccio, and all of Simpson’s former friends were in it for the money. ” â€˜I want big bucks,’ ” cried Fromong to Beardsley after the robbery, Galanter recalled.
“Is he interested in the truth, or is he interested in lining his pockets with money?” said Galanter about Alexander and his alleged extortion plot testified to by Simpson friend Thomas Scotto.
One of the victims in the case wants to drop the charges (Beardsley) and Fromong testified that Simpson’s family should get possession of the property at the center of this case, said Galanter.
“What is on trial here?” he asked. “What was this man thinking? What were Mr. Simpson’s intentions?” Galanter centered a lot of his closing argument on Simpson’s intent and state of mind on the night in question.
Galanter also recounted some of the actions by Simpson on September 13. Simpson called Riccio shortly after the incident. He said his client only wanted to recover his stolen property. He said Simpson himself called the police and that people who commit crimes do not call the police. And lastly, he mentioned the sanctity of a man’s property by using a quote that he found in a book.
“The property which every man has in his own labor, is the original foundation of all other property.”
“The foundation (property in this case) is the cornerstone of O.J. Simpson’s life,” argued Galanter. “This was the timeline of his life.” It’s “sacred.” “He is not guilty.”
The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and very soon, this case will be in the hands of the impartially chosen Nevada jury.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges and know that their lives are on the line today.
Below are the charges they face and the prison terms that apply.
There are 12 counts in all. One misdemeanor count conspiracy to commit a crime (1-year county jail), one felony count conspiracy to commit kidnapping (1-6 years), one felony count conspiracy to commit robbery (1-6 years), 1 felony count burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon (2-15 years), 2 felony counts first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon (1-20 years or life), two felony counts robbery with use of a deadly weapon (2-15 years), two felony counts assault with a deadly weapon (1-6 years), and 2 felony counts coercion with use of a deadly weapon (2-12 years).
This is an excerpt from prosecutor Chris Owens’ opening statement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you’re the jury in this case and the final story is going to be told by you, the final chapter is going to be told by you. And through that, hopefully, in the next few days, you’re going to explore, discover, and expose as you hear the evidence, the true face the hidden face of Mr. Simpson in this case. And Mr. Stewart, who aided and abetted throughout this crime, and you’ll be able to write that final chapter. A chapter truly of arrogance and hypocrisy and you’ll come back with a verdict of guilt. That will be the true verdict and a verdict you can feel good about in this case,” said Chris Owens during his opening statement.