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O.J. Simpson pleads not guilty to 12 felony charges

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  • NEW: O.J. Simpson and two co-defendants arraigned; trial set for April 7, 2008
  • Simpson faces 12 criminal counts after September incident in Las Vegas hotel room
  • Simpson says he was recovering memorabilia he owned; prosecutors call it robbery
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(CNN) -- O.J. Simpson pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to 12 felony charges that could send him to prison for life.

O.J. Simpson arrives at the courthouse in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Two of Simpson's co-defendants, Charles Ehrlich and Clarence Stewart, also pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

The trial was set for April 7, 2008.

The three appeared before Eighth District Judge Jackie Glass for arraignment on charges stemming from a confrontation in a Las Vegas hotel room on September 13.

Prosecutors allege Simpson, 60, and five other men burst into a room at the Palace Station Hotel, held two memorabilia dealers -- Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong -- against their will and flashed at least one gun while removing items.

Simpson said he was merely taking back items that belonged to him, but one of the two alleged victims described it as a "military-style invasion."

Three of the men initially charged along with Simpson in the incident -- Walter Alexander, Charles Cashmore and Michael McClinton -- testified against him during a preliminary hearing under the terms of a plea agreement with prosecutors.Video Watch Simpson enter his plea »

Alexander and McClinton testified Simpson requested they carry guns and "look menacing" during the incident.

The other two co-defendants, Ehrlich and Stewart, were bound over along with Simpson on November 14 by Las Vegas Township Justice of the Peace Joseph Bonaventure.

In making his ruling, Bonaventure said many issues raised during the hearing by defense attorneys for Simpson, Ehrlich and Stewart -- including intent, whether kidnapping occurred and the credibility of the witnesses who testified -- should be sorted out by jurors at trial.

During the hearing, Ehrlich's attorney John Moran referred to those who testified as an assortment of "crackheads, groupies, pimps, purveyors of stolen merchandise ... con artists, crooks."

The defense called no witnesses.

In his testimony, Fromong said he had bought the memorabilia legally.

Bonaventure, however, acknowledged the ownership of some of the items was "at least questionable."

Simpson has denied asking anyone to carry weapons or knowing any guns were used in the confrontation.


According to earlier testimony, Fromong and Beardsley were offering more than 600 Simpson-related items for sale, including ties Simpson wore during his criminal trial for the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

Simpson was acquitted after one of the most sensational trials in American history, but a civil jury later found him liable for their deaths, slapping him with a $33 million judgment. In the years since, attorneys for the Goldman family have doggedly pursued Simpson's financial assets to pay the judgment. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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