LAS VEGAS — His leg shackles rattling as he shuffled to the witness stand, a grayer, bulkier O.J. Simpson made his case Wednesday for a new trial on armed robbery charges, saying he was relying on the advice of his trusted attorney when he tried to reclaim mementos from his football glory days.
After more than four years in prison, Simpson seized the opportunity to recount how he and some friends confronted two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007, and how he believed he had the right to take back what he claimed had been stolen from him, including photos and footballs.
“It was my stuff. I followed what I thought was the law. My lawyer told me I couldn’t break into a guy’s room. I didn’t break into anybody’s room. I didn’t try to muscle the guys. The guys had my stuff, even though they claimed they didn’t steal it,” the 65-year-old former NFL star and actor said.
Simpson did not testify when he was tried and convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping in 2008. He was sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison.
His fall from long-ago fame and fortune was demonstrated as he made his way to the stand with shackles around his ankles for a hearing on his claim that he was poorly represented by his attorney during the trial.
As his new lawyer, Patricia Palm, questioned him, he provided details that seemed to encompass every minute of a weekend that began with plans for a friend’s wedding and ended with him under arrest.
He said he knew the memorabilia dealers, had no fear of them and certainly didn’t need guns. “There was no talk of guns at all,” he said. Simpson declared he never even saw guns during the confrontation.
During the trial, two former co-defendants who testified for the prosecution said they had guns.
Simpson’s bid for freedom hinges on showing that his lawyer badly represented him. He mentioned the lawyer, Yale Galanter, from the outset.
“He was my guy,” he said of his long friendship and professional relationship with Galanter.
But he blamed Galanter’s advice for getting him in trouble. He said Galanter told him he was within his rights to take back his possessions, as long as there was no violence or trespassing.
Another Simpson attorney from the 2008 trial has said it was Galanter who pushed on Simpson a decision not to testify.