The Man Who Could Put O.J. Away for Life

Las Vegas, Nevada - There is probably no American alive whose murder acquittal has been met with such widespread national skepticism as O.J. Simpson.

Now all eyes are on Clark County District Attorney David Roger, the man whose impending prosecution of Simpson could put the former football legend in prison for life, on a battery of felony charges ranging from kidnapping and burglary to assault with a deadly weapon.

While it remains unclear how strong a case the prosecutor's office has against Simpson, by most accounts Roger is up to the job.

"He's had a long and distinguished career with the [prosecutor's] office and enjoys a well-deserved reputation for being meticulous and well-prepared," said Michael Davidson, a former Clark County assistant district attorney who ran unsuccessfully against Roger for the top spot in the district attorney's office in 2001. "I would be surprised to see what happened in the original case against Simpson repeats itself here in Las Vegas."

Another former Clark County assistant district attorney said that local police surely had the failed Los Angeles prosecution of Simpson for the alleged murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman at the forefront of their minds as they investigated and built the case against Simpson.

"The [Las Vegas] Metropolitan Police Department is absolutely dead set on not being made to look like the LAPD," said the veteran attorney, who spoke to ABC News on the condition of anonymity. "Everyone here knows … they're going to make sure this case is handled properly … I'd bet you anything that the police got the D.A.'s office involved early in the process."

Las Vegas defense lawyer David Chesnoff, who has represented tennis player Andre Agassi, boxer Mike Tyson and Martha Stewart, expressed confidence in Roger, calling him a "straight shooter who is always very prepared, meticulous and has a great grasp of the facts."

"I think they're pursuing [the Simpson case] very seriously and being very careful," Chesnoff said. "I can promise you this," he said with a mischievous smile, "David would never end up taking a job with 'Entertainment Tonight' like [former Los Angeles prosecutor] Marcia Clark."

But not everybody feels the district attorney is being reasonable. Loyola law professor Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, questioned the severity of the charges.

"They're certainly loading up the charges against Simpson," she said Tuesday. "It strikes me that they are just lowering the boom as hard and as fast as they can. And I'm a former prosecutor!"

New York defense lawyer Jeff Lichtman, who represented John Gotti Jr., another notorious defendant, suggested that what he feels is a heavy-handed prosecution is motivated to some degree by the Brentwood, Calif., murders.

"Despise O.J. all you want, but this Las Vegas court and these prosecutors should not be permitted to use this present case in order to achieve justice for Nicole's murder," he said.

Many in the legal community here say Roger's election as district attorney was spurred in no small part by his conviction of two people for the 1998 murder of casino magnate Lonnie Theodore "Ted" Binion, whose family owned the legendary Binion's Horseshoe casino, one of the oldest gambling houses in Las Vegas.

Roger won murder convictions against Sandy Murphy, Binion's former beauty-queen girlfriend, and her one-time lover, Rick Tabish, in one of the most sensational trials the city had ever seen.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...