A judge agreed Friday to delay O.J. Simpson's trial for armed robbery and kidnapping to September but declined to throw out the two major charges against the former football star or sever his trial from two co-defendants.
"Believe me I don't want to do this," Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass said as she postponed the April 7 trial date until Sept. 8.
But she acknowledged that it took longer than expected for prosecutors to analyze and enhance tape recordings, transcripts and fingerprints and turn them over to the defense to prepare for trial.
She issued a stern warning to lawyers that "there should be absolutely, positively no reason" to postpone trial again.
"If you even dare to come to me before the next trial setting and tell me of something that didn't get done, then shame on you," she said.
The judge decided Simpson and co-defendants Charles Ehrlich and Clarence "C.J." Stewart will be tried together, and refused to throw out kidnapping and robbery charges against the three men.
"At first blush, I said, 'Where's the kidnapping?"' Glass said. But she said it takes "slight or marginal evidence" to put the charge before a jury, and she concluded that threshold was met during a November preliminary hearing.
"It certainly survives that," she said.
Glass went on to hear arguments from the bench on 16 motions filed by defense lawyers and prosecutors, including requests to limit evidence and lines of questioning during trial.
Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter, Ehrlich's attorney John Moran Jr., and lawyers for Stewart complained before the hearing that prosecutors submitted a revised list of expert witnesses Thursday, adding several names. They said they needed more time to prepare for cross-examinations.
Simpson did not appear for the hearing, although Ehrlich and Stewart were in attendance.
Simpson, Ehrlich and Stewart are accused of kidnapping and robbing two sports collectibles dealers peddling Simpson memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel-casino in September.
Simpson, Ehrlich and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to all charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. A kidnapping conviction could bring life in prison with the possibility of parole. A robbery conviction would carry mandatory prison time.
The judge had told defense lawyers and prosecutors last week that she planned to decide all pretrial motions on Friday, and would stick to the April 7 trial date she had set in November.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger declined comment before the hearing began Friday. Roger has characterized efforts to delay the trial as an attempt to sever Simpson's trial from those of his co-defendants.
Galanter asked for a written questionnaire to be filled out by jury prospects, saying he wants prospective jurors questioned individually to prevent them from hearing one another's answers.
"I don't think you can question jurors as a group," he said. "If one person says he thinks O.J. is a murderer, then you have to dismiss the whole panel."
Stewart's lawyer, Robert Lucherini, and Moran have said they might appeal to the state Supreme Court if Glass rules that their clients should be tried with Simpson.