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O.J. Simpson loses appeal in Las Vegas armed robbery trial

By Michael Martinez, CNN
  • Nevada Supreme Court finds Simpson's arguments "without merit"
  • A codefendant wins a new trial
  • Simpson will continue a 33-year prison sentence with a chance for parole after nine years
  • Justices found Simpson was "furious" when committing 2007 robbery over sports memorabilia

(CNN) -- The Nevada Supreme Court Friday upheld former football player O.J. Simpson's convictions for kidnapping with a deadly weapon and other charges in his 2008 Las Vegas armed robbery trial, but ordered a new trial for co-defendant Clarence Stewart.

Simpson, 63, is now serving a 33-year sentence with the possibility of parole after nine years for 10 convictions relating to an armed confrontation over sports memorabilia in a Las Vegas hotel room. Simpson and five other men tried to regain property that Simpson claimed was his.

That 2008 Nevada conviction came exactly 13 years after Simpson was acquitted in Los Angeles, California, in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

In his Nevada appeal, Simpson unsuccessfully argued that the trial court erred when prosecutors were allowed to remove two potential jurors who were African-American.

Simpson also alleged the trial court improperly restricted him from asking potential jurors about the notorious California murder trial and a subsequent wrongful death civil suit accusing him of causing the two deaths. Simpson also contended the Las Vegas trial court improperly admitted hearsay statements.

"We conclude that all of Simpson's arguments on appeal are without merit and we therefore affirm the judgment of conviction," Nevada's high court said in its ruling.

On September 13, 2007, Simpson and five men held two individuals at gunpoint and removed about $100,000 worth of trophies and other sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel room.

"The testimony was clear and consistent: Simpson was furious" at a third individual whom Simpson believed had betrayed him by selling his personal items, the court wrote when addressing the assault and robbery convictions.

"Once the robbery was over and all of the items were removed from the room, Simpson remained in the middle of the room yelling at the victims" while a conspirator held the victims at gunpoint, the justices wrote.

Of the five men who accompanied Simpson to the Vegas hotel room, four pleaded guilty to reduced charges in exchange for their testimony at trial, but Clarence "C.J." Stewart faced a jury verdict alongside Simpson.

Stewart argued that he should have received a separate trial.

Stewart was also convicted on 10 counts and received an identical 33-year prison sentence as Simpson, but the Nevada Supreme Court agreed with Stewart's attorneys and ordered a new trial.

"We conclude that the district court did abuse its discretion when it denied the motion to sever (Stewart's trial from Simpson's) because it prejudiced Stewart by having a substantial and injurious effect on the verdict, and we therefore reverse the judgment of conviction," the court wrote.