O.J. Simpson to Serve at Least 9 Years

Simpson's lawyers ask for leniency at sentencing for armed robbery conviction.

December 5, 2008, 12:55 PM

Dec. 5, 2008 — -- O.J. Simpson was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison today, with the possibility of release after nine years, for his role in an armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers inside a Las Vegas hotel room.

It was not immediately clear exactly how much time the former football star, who was famously acquitted 13 years ago of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman, would serve in prison.

Simpson, 61, was sentenced to 16 years for kidnapping and was also sentenced to at least another three years in prison for assault. He will be eligible for parole after six years on the kidnapping charges, meaning he will be eligible for release after nine years. With sentencing enhancements on the kidnapping charge, he could serve as long as 33 years. He had faced up to life in prison.

Judge Jackie Glass ignored Simpson's attorneys' pleas for leniency and denied his request to be released on bail pending his appeal, saying she believed Simpson was a flight risk.

"That was a violent event. Guns were brought. At least one gun was drawn. The potential for harm to occur in that room was tremendous," Glass said.

Simpson and his co-defendant Charles Stewart were convicted on 12 counts, including robbery with a deadly weapon, assault and kidnapping, Oct. 3, 13 years to the day after a Los Angeles jury acquitted Simpson of the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman.

The specter of the murders hung over the trial and Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, has said Simpson was convicted because of the murders, not because of what happen last year in the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Glass said several times that her sentence in the Las Vegas case had nothing to do with Simpson's acquittal of the murders.

"I'm not here to try and cause any retribution or any payback for anything else," Glass said.

Outside court, Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, and sister, Kim, said they were thrilled with the sentence. The pair also spoke exclusively with ABC News following the verdict.

"To see him come into the courtroom in shackles was incredible," Fred Goldman said. "He still had that arrogant look on his face, but it was good to see him in shackles -- just where he belongs."

Kim Goldman added that her and her father's dogged pursuit of Simpson over the years after winning an award in a civil case was worth it.

"There is a lot of poetic justice in the last 14 years for us," she said. "I feel very confident and proud that my dad and I were relentless in our pursuit, and I'll take a little bit of credit for maybe driving him to committing this crime.... It's a reminder that our system can work. It didn't work for us in '94, but it can work."

O.J. Simpson Emotional Before Verdict

In a statement, Denise Brown, Nicole Brown Simpson's sister, said, "It is very sad to think that an individual who had it all, an amazing career, beautiful wife and two precious children has ended up like this. Allowing wealth, power and control to consume himself he made a horrific choice on June 12, 1994, which has spiraled into where he is today."

Simpson showed little emotion as Glass read the sentence. Earlier, he'd given an emotional apology, during which he appeared close to tears.

"I didn't mean to hurt anybody, and I didn't mean to steal from anybody," Simpson said. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of it."

In his trial, Simpson's associates and one-time friends, four of whom pleaded guilty and testified against him, described a botched plot to confront memorabilia dealers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong inside their room at the Palace Station. Simpson and the others stormed the hotel room, held the dealers at gunpoint and made off with thousands of dollars of merchandise.

Simpson's lawyers had asked for the minimum sentence of six years, arguing that Simpson merely showed poor judgment and was trying to recover sports memorabilia that he believed was stolen from him.

In his exclusive interview with ABC News, Fred Goldman said through tears that if his late son is looking down, he is likely pleased with the Las Vegas case's conclusion.

"I think Ron would be proud that we drove O.J. into this jail," Fred Goldman said. "But he should not be looking down. He should be here."

ABC News' Jim Vojtech and Lisa Fletcher in Las Vegas contributed to this report.