What Are the Odds O.J. Will Be Convicted?
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Kidnapping is on the long list of charges that prosecutors in Las Vegas filed against O.J. Simpson today.
He is in jail for allegedly leading an armed assault on some sports memorabilia dealers in a Vegas hotel room. Simpson claims he was trying to recover items the dealers had stolen from him. Tomorrow, he appears in court, with hopes that the judge will set bail. But today, one of Simpson's old adversaries was in another courtroom in California, trying to seize his assets.
NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Tomorrow's bail hearing could force O.J. Simpson to reveal lots of details about his personal finances. That's important to court officials in Las Vegas, who worry that Simpson is a flight risk. But it's also important to Fred Goldman, an angry father who has spent more than a decade trying to get hold of O.J. Simpson's assets.
Mr. FRED GOLDMAN (Ron Goldman's Father): This is just someone who thinks he can do anything he wants and get away with it. I hope this is the last time he ever gets away with anything.
DEL BARCO: Goldman told Las Vegas TV station KNXV that Simpson still owes him money for killing his son Ronald 13 years ago. Simpson was acquitted in a double-murder trial of his ex-wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. But the civil jury later ordered O.J. to pay the Goldmans more than $33 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. The judgment against Simpson remains largely unpaid.
Mr. GOLDMAN: This is not a nice guy. He's a real piece of trash, an arrogant piece of trash, a wife beater, and now you can add armed robbery to his list of things he's done.
DEL BARCO: When the Goldmans heard about the sports memorabilia in Las Vegas, they were hoping to force O.J. to hand it over, along with his earnings on everything from video games to autograph sales. But today, a judge in Santa Monica, California said the Goldmans will first have to determine whether Simpson actually owns the items and then give the court a list of what's there.
Meanwhile, back in Las Vegas, one of the suspects, Walter Alexander, told CNN's Larry King that he's suspicious, especially since one of the sports memorabilia collectors recorded audio of the angry confrontation and turned it over to the press.
Mr. WALTER ALEXANDER (Alleged Suspect on Sports Memorabilia Armed Robbery): I believe the whole thing was a set up. You see it was taped. It was very obvious that Thomas Riccio, you know, had intentions to set O.J. up and that's what happened.
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DEL BARCO: Along the famous casino strip on Las Vegas, O.J.'s legal problems are the talk of the town. Tourist Mark Peretti(ph) and Vegas resident Aloisa Hoops(ph) were typical of those who cheered when Simpson was arrested.
Mr. MARK PERETTI (Tourist): He can go to prison to stay there and rot. I think he's a murderer. So let him go to prison. If it's for something else, at least he's in prison.
Ms. ALOISA HOOPS (Las Vegas Resident): Looks like he broke in and I think that - I'm glad that they arrested him, you know?
DEL BARCO: Do you think that people are placing odds on O.J. Simpson right now?
Ms. HOOPS: Oh, yeah. I'm they are. Sure they are. This is the bet in town.
DEL BARCO: College students Marcus Haley(ph) and Cameron Fierce(ph) debated the issue while drinking margaritas outside the Paris Hotel and Casino.
So, if you were going to bet on it, what would you bet?
Mr. MARCUS HALEY (College Student): That O.J. didn't do it - 100 percent.
Mr. CAMERON FEARCE (College Student): I don't know. I'd bet against it. I bet he's guilty. He said he was there at the scene, so he's already at the crime scene. So...
DEL BARCO: Once again, Simpson is counting on his lawyers to prevail in the courtroom. But this time, his dream team is nowhere in sight.
Mr. HALEY: All I know is he ain't got Johnnie Cochran right now. So, he might be in prison for a minute. Johnnie Cochran ain't there, so he can't save him this time.
DEL BARCO: O.J. Simpson remains in an isolated cell in the Clark County Jail, waiting for his arraignment.
Mandalit del Barco, NPR News, Las Vegas.
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