LAS VEGAS – O.J. Simpson will spend the next two weeks in Miami "golfing and taking care of the kids," his lawyer said, before returning to a Nevada courtroom to be arraigned on charges that could mean years behind bars.
"We'll be back on the 28th," Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter said Wednesday on the courthouse steps after a Las Vegas magistrate said Simpson and co-defendants Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles "Charlie" Ehrlich must stand trial on charges including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, coercion and conspiracy.
Defense attorneys lost a bid to get any of the 12 charges dismissed, despite claims they were based on the accounts of con artists and crooks.
"This is what we expected," Simpson told The Associated Press before he left the courtroom. "If I have any disappointment it's that I wish a jury was here. As always, I rely on the jury system."
Simpson and the others will be asked to enter pleas to criminal charges that he masterminded and led an armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers. Three of the men who accompanied Simpson, including two who admitted carrying guns, took plea deals and testified for the prosecution during the 3 1/2-day hearing.
"All the same players will come back," Chief Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Douglas Smith said of the Nov. 28 arraignment when Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass also will set a trial date.
Trial could be within 60 days, but Smith said coordinating court and lawyers' calendars could push it back six months or longer. Galanter said he thought it could be a year before jurors hear any testimony, though he might seek a speedy trial.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure said he weighed the credibility of witnesses and questions the defense raised about "bought" testimony from those one lawyer derided as "crackheads and groupies and pimps and purveyors of stolen merchandise and gun carriers and con artists and crooks."
"Much time was spent attacking the credibility of witnesses," Bonaventure said. "There are a number of motive and credibility issues here. However, the ultimate determination of the credibility of witness should be left to a jury."
Kidnapping convictions could result in a life sentence with possibility of parole. Armed robbery convictions would require some time in prison.
Outside the courthouse, Galanter argued again that the former football star was trying only to reclaim family heirlooms during the Sept. 13 confrontation in a casino hotel room and that he believed no crime was committed.
Galanter rejected the idea of a plea agreement.
"I have never been in a case where every witness had a financial motive, where every witness had a credibility problem," he said.
Stewart's lawyer, Robert Lucherini, said he may seek to have his client's trial separated from Simpson's.
"We're disappointed, but we understand the judge's decision," Lucherini said.
Ehrlich's attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
Another Simpson lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, argued it was unclear whether prosecutors considered kidnapping the act of luring the two sports memorabilia dealers to the room — or whether the charge was based on a confrontation that followed.
"This is clearly overcharging," he said.
Simpson, 60, has maintained that no guns were displayed, that he never asked anyone to bring guns and that he did not know anyone had guns. He has said he intended only to retrieve items that had been stolen from him by a former agent, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Simpson and the other defendants did not testify in their own defense.
In their closing arguments, attorneys for Stewart and Ehrlich questioned the credibility of the prosecution's witnesses. But prosecutor Chris Owens said the witnesses corroborated each other's stories and recordings, video and photographs supported the case.
"These guys are bad. The court can't ascribe any credibility to what came out of their mouths," said attorney John Moran Jr., who represents Ehrlich. "Every witness up there was looking to sell testimony and make money off of this case."
Owens offered no defense of their character but said, "It's not like the state went out and found the witnesses. These are people aligned with O.J. Simpson. These are the people he surrounds himself with."
Earlier, sports memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, 45, testified that he tried to make clear to an "irritated" Simpson during the confrontation that he had not stolen items from him.
When the men came in the room, "somebody yelled out, 'Police,'" Beardsley testified. "I was ordered to stand up. I was searched for weapons."
Beardsley testified that he did not steal any of the items and that he told Simpson the memorabilia came from a former partner of dealer Bruce Fromong. Simpson "felt violated and gave me a lecture," Beardsley said.
Beardsley said he was ordered to pack up the memorabilia, which had been laid out on a bed, and that the group left. He then called 911.
Under cross-examination by one of Simpson's lawyers, he blamed Simpson for the incident.
"Your client was foolish enough to let it happen," he said. "He was a high-profile person, and people were waiting for him to screw up. And he screwed up."
Michael "Spencer" McClinton testified Tuesday that Simpson asked him to bring guns and told him to use them to intimidate Beardsley and Fromong.
Simpson's golfing buddy, Walter "Goldie" Alexander, testified Tuesday that Simpson instructed McClinton to draw his weapon before the group entered the room at the Palace Station hotel-casino.
McClinton, Alexander and Charles Cashmore struck deals with prosecutors and testified against Simpson.