LAS VEGAS — O.J. Simpson finally took the stand as the star witness in his bid to receive a new trial on the kidnapping and robbery charges that sent him to prison for up to 33 years.
Gently coached in about 2 1/2 hours of testimony Wednesday morning by one of his attorneys, Patricia Palm, the 65-year-old former football star and Heisman Trophy winner described what happened one night in 2007, when he and five others entered a hotel room at the Palace Station casino and demanded the return of sports memorabilia Simpson insisted had been stolen from him.
Simpson has said he did not know that the men who accompanied him to the Palace Station had guns, and he repeated that assertion Wednesday.
When asked by Palm about what led up to the confrontation at the hotel room, Simpson replied, “There was no talk of guns at all.”
In recounting the incident, he also said, “It obviously didn’t go as I hoped it would.’’
Simpson was convicted in the gunpoint robbery and kidnapping of two sports memorabilia dealers and sentenced to nine to 33 years in a Nevada prison. He is seeking a new trial, arguing that his attorneys at the time put forth a shoddy defense.
For two days, Simpson has watched the court proceedings quietly, occasionally speaking with his attorneys. The testimony before Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell featured the new O.J. Simpson who has spent years out of the camera’s eye — jowly, gray-haired, tired-looking. He was shackled and wore blue prison togs.
But there were also flashes of the old star-wattage Simpson, of the athlete known as “Juice” — the easy smile, the personable laugh, the guy used to being the life of the party.
At one point in his testimony, he explained comments he made after the hotel room confrontation. The comments were captured on audiotape and suggested he knew there would be legal problems in his future. “What I said was here we go again. I’m gonna need a bail bondsman,” Simpson testified.
Simpson will resume his testimony Wednesday afternoon.