LAS VEGAS A broken O.J. Simpson was sentenced Friday to as much as 33 years in prison for a hotel armed robbery after a judge rejected his apology and said, "It was much more than stupidity."
The 61-year-old football Hall of Famer stood shackled and stone-faced when Judge Jackie Glass quickly rattled off the punishment soon after Simpson made a rambling, five-minute plea for leniency, choking back tears as he told her: "I didn't want to steal anything from anyone. ... I'm sorry, sorry."
Simpson said he was simply trying to retrieve sports memorabilia and other mementos, including his first wife's wedding ring, from two dealers when he stormed a Las Vegas hotel room on Sept. 13, 2007.
But the judge emphasized that it was a violent confrontation in which at least one gun was drawn, and she said someone could have been killed. She said the evidence was overwhelming, with the planning, the confrontation itself and the aftermath all recorded on audio or videotape.
Glass, a no-nonsense judge known for her tough sentences, imposed such a complex series of consecutive and concurrent sentences that even many attorneys watching the case were confused as to how much time Simpson got.
Simpson could serve up to 33 years but could be eligible for parole after nine years, according to Elana Roberto, the judge's clerk.
The judge said several times that her sentence in the Las Vegas case had nothing to do with Simpson's 1995 acquittal in the slaying of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
"I'm not here to try and cause any retribution or any payback for anything else," Glass said.
Still, some people who followed the case said justice had finally caught up with Simpson.
"You do things and you've got to expect karma to come around," said Greg Wheatley, 32, of Los Angeles.
Simpson was immediately led away to prison after the judge refused to permit him to go free on bail while he appeals.
Simpson's co-defendant and former golfing buddy, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, also was sentenced. He could serve up to 27 years in prison but would be eligible for parole after 7 years, court officials said.
Stewart's lawyer, Brent Bryson, called the sentence for Stewart "mostly appropriate."
Glass could have sent Simpson and Stewart to prison for the rest of their lives. A recommendation from the state parole agency called for at least 18 years. The defense pushed for the minimum, six years.
Outside court, Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, and sister, Kim, said they were delighted with the sentence.
"We are thrilled, and it's a bittersweet moment," Fred Goldman said. "It was satisfying seeing him in shackles like he belongs."
The Goldmans took a measure of credit for Simpson's fate, saying their relentless pursuit of his assets to satisfy a $33.5 million wrongful-death judgment "pushed him over the edge" and led him to commit the robbery to recover some of his sports memorabilia.
The Goldmans spoke in front of a group of booing hecklers. One carried a large placard saying, "Free OJ you black male haters."
Nicole Brown Simpson's sister, Denise Brown, released a statement from her family.
"Allowing wealth, power and control to consume himself, he made a horrific choice on June 12, 1994, which has spiraled into where he is today," it said, referring to the date her sister and Ron Goldman were killed.
The statement noted, however, that the family had mixed emotions because the adult daughter and son of Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson will now be without another parent.
Simpson and Stewart were both brought to the courtroom in dark blue jail uniforms, their hands shackled to their waists with chains. Simpson, who looked weary and had not been expected to speak, delivered a somber statement to the judge.
As he spoke in a hoarse voice, the courtroom was hushed. His two sisters, Shirley Baker and Carmelita Durio, sat in the front row of the courtroom, along with his adult daughter.
Both men were convicted Oct. 3 of 12 criminal charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery.
"As stupid and as ill-conceived as it was, it wasn't something that was from this evil mind they teach us about," Simpson attorney Yale Galanter said before sentencing.
Galanter later called the sentence appropriate.
"We were preparing Mr. Simpson for the worst. We felt we did really well," he said. "Obviously, he's upset about the possibility of doing nine years."
Galanter planned to file a notice of appeal later Friday. He believed the Goldman family's presence in the courtroom was inappropriate.
"It really made us all aware that despite our best efforts, it's very difficult to separate the California case form the Nevada case," he said.
Most of the 63 seats in the courtroom were taken by media, lawyers and family members of the defendants. Fifteen members of the public were also allowed.
After sentencing was over, the Goldmans left the courtroom and Kim threw her arms around her father and wept.
Simpson's sisters declined to comment, but Shirley Baker said on her way out: "It's not over."
Jurors who heard 13 days of testimony said after the verdict that they were convinced of Simpson's guilt because of audio recordings that were secretly made of the Sept. 13, 2007, robbery at the Palace Station casino hotel.
The confrontation involved sports memorabilia brokers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong. It was recorded by collectibles dealer Thomas Riccio, who was acting as middleman.
"Don't let nobody out of this room!" Simpson commands on the recordings, and instructs other men to scoop up items he insists had been stolen from him.
Beardsley did not attend the sentencing. In a phone interview, he said he was disappointed with the outcome.
"I'm glad that Mr. Simpson's attorneys are happy with it. But I didn't want any jail time for him. It was all a big mistake and a setup. ... It just destroyed all our lives," he said.
On Tuesday, Glass is scheduled to sentence four former co-defendants who took plea deals and testified against Simpson and Stewart.
Michael McClinton, Charles Cashmore, Walter Alexander and Charles Ehrlich could receive probation or prison time. McClinton could get up to 11 years; the others face less.
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