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OJ Simpson ordered to stand trial

OJ Simpson, the football star-turned-actor who was acquitted of double murder in 1995, was ordered to stand trial on Wednesday in what prosecutors say was the armed robbery in Las Vegas of his own memorabilia from a pair of collectors. <

Las Vegas Judge Joe Bonaventure ordered Simpson (60) and two other men to stand trial on 12 charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery, in the September 13 incident at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino.

Bonaventure set trial for Simpson, Clarence Stewart and Charles Ehrlich to begin on November 28, although that date will almost certainly be pushed back.

Defense attorneys asked that the case be dismissed because it was based largely on the testimony of witnesses who they said lacked credibility. Bonaventure agreed that prosecution witnesses, some of whom had criminal records or were testifying in exchange for leniency, had credibility issues.

“(But) the ultimate determination of the credibility of witnesses should be left to a jury. For this reason the defense arguments are not convincing,” the judge said.

Addressing Simpson, Stewart and Ehrlich, he said: “Based on my findings today you are ordered bound over and held to answer.”

Simpson’s attorney, Yale Galanter, told reporters after the judge’s ruling that he expected to prevail at trial.

“My only regret about being in Vegas trying this preliminary hearing over these four days is that we didn’t have a jury seated,” he said. “If we did have a jury seated this would be over and my client would be on his way home by now.”

Prosecutors say Simpson led five accomplices in stealing the memorabilia at gunpoint from Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

Walter Alexander, Charles Cashmore and Michael McClinton were also charged in the case initially but agreed to plead guilty and testify for the prosecution.

Both Alexander and McClinton told the court during the hearing that Simpson asked them to bring guns to the Palace Station, just off the Las Vegas strip, to intimidate Fromong and Beardsley.

Defense lawyers argued that Simpson went to the hotel only to recover his own stolen belongings and did not have a gun.

The defendants could potentially be sentenced to life in prison if they are convicted on all charges at a trial, although legal experts said they could also face considerably less time.

Simpson, who parlayed his fame as an athlete into a career in Hollywood, was acquitted of the June 12, 1994, murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman after the sensational trial that transfixed much of the world.

A civil court jury later found Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay US$33,5 million in damages to the victims’ families, a judgment that remains largely unpaid. — Reuters.

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