Former lawyer says OJ Simpson knew about guns

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Associated Press

Posted on May 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Updated Friday, May 17 at 7:05 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The lawyer who defended O.J. Simpson on armed robbery charges delivered a potentially heavy blow to the former football star's bid for a new trial Friday, testifying that Simpson knew his buddies had guns on them when he went to a hotel room to reclaim some sports memorabilia.

Attorney Yale Galanter took the stand in a frequently combative hearing over Simpson's claim that he was so badly represented by Galanter that his conviction should be thrown out. Point by point, Galanter contradicted much of own former client's testimony and defended his handling of the case.

Simpson, 65, was convicted in 2008 of kidnapping and armed robbery over the hotel room episode and was sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison. That came 13 years after his 1995 acquittal in the killing of his ex-wife and her friend, a case that riveted Americans and become known as the "trial of the century."

Simpson and his new lawyers, Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo, allege Galanter botched the trial.

When the hearing concluded late Friday afternoon, Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell told attorney she will issue her decision on the bid for a retrial at a later time. She did not specify when the decision would be released.

Galanter testified the former football hero confided to him that he had indeed asked two men to bring guns to the 2007 hotel room confrontation and "he knew he screwed up."

The attorney denied giving Simpson the go-ahead to try to retrieve the items, which included photos and signed footballs that Simpson believed had been stolen from him. He said he advised Simpson not to take matters into his own hands.

And Galanter disputed Simpson's claim that Galanter never told him about plea bargain discussions with prosecutors that could have resulted in a prison sentence of just a few years.

On the stand, Galanter hesitated and spoke only after he paused, breathed deeply and was reminded that Simpson had waived attorney-client privilege.

"I'm very uncomfortable doing this," Galanter said.

Testifying about events leading up to the hotel room incident, Galanter said he was surprised when Simpson told him over dinner at a Las Vegas hotel that he and several other men were planning a "sting" the next morning to take back items he believed had been stolen from him in Los Angeles.

Galanter said he advised against it.

"I said, 'O.J., you've got to call the police,'" Galanter said.

According to Simpson, Galanter advised the former NFL running back that it was his legal right to retrieve the items; told Simpson not to testify at the trial; and failed to tell Simpson that prosecutors had offered plea bargains. Earlier in the week, Simpson testified that he didn't know anyone in the hotel room had guns.

Another Simpson lawyer, Tom Pitaro, insistently cross-examined Galanter closely about financial aspects of the case. During one objection, the judge asked Pitaro where he was going with his questions.

"What Mr. Galanter has done is, this man has received over a half-million dollars and has put his interest, his financial interest, above the interest of his client," Pitaro said.

Galanter insisted he told Simpson at least three times that prosecutors discussed plea bargains with him. But he said Simpson rejected them.

Galanter was also grilled on his trial decisions, such as not objecting to a recording of a discussion that mentioned Simpson's sensational 1995 murder trial. Galanter noted that the judge at the armed robbery trial had instructed the jury it couldn't consider the murder case.

If Simpson succeeds in getting his armed robbery conviction thrown out, prosecutors will have to either retry him or offer a plea bargain. It is also possible Simpson could be freed with credit for time served. If he loses, he will be sent back to prison and will probably appeal to a higher court. He will be 70 before he is eligible for parole.

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Find Ken Ritter on Twitter: http://twitter.com/krttr

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Find Ken Ritter on Twitter: http://twitter.com/krttr

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