O.J. Simpson continues Las Vegas court fight for new trial over armed robbery conviction

O.J. Simpson testifies during an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court, Wednesday, May 15, 2013 in Las Vegas. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine to 33-year sentence in state prison as a result of his October 2008 conviction for armed robbery and kidnapping charges, is using a writ of habeas corpus, to seek a new trial, claiming he had such bad representation that his conviction should be reversed. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Pool)
Julie Jacobson
O.J. Simpson testifies during an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court, Wednesday, May 15, 2013 in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, Pool

(AP) LAS VEGAS - A lawyer who has hounded O.J. Simpson for years to collect a multimillion-dollar civil judgment after the former football star's "trial of the century" acquittal in Los Angeles, testified Thursday that items taken in the Las Vegas hotel room heist that put Simpson in prison didn't really belong to him.

Attorney David Cook, testifying for the state, said his client, Fred Goldman, still has ownership rights to nine airless "game" football mementos that a California judge ordered returned to Simpson in 2009 - a year after Simpson was convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas and sentenced to serve at least nine years behind bars.

"We have some right to the footballs if they appear on the market," Cook said.

Fred Goldman's son, Ron, was stabbed to death in 1994, along with Nicole Brown Simpson, killings in which O.J. Simpson was acquitted.

But Simpson testified Wednesday he would never sell what he termed his "stuff." His lawyer Ozzie Fumo, on cross-examination Thursday, made Cook concede that the footballs were returned to Simpson's attorney - along with neckties, awards and an autographed photo of Simpson with former FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover.

Cook's brief testimony came on the fourth day of a hearing to determine whether Simpson deserves a new trial on his armed robbery conviction in Las Vegas. Cook didn't testify at the 2008 trial during which Simpson now says he was so badly represented by a lawyer who had conflicted interests that he deserves a new trial.

H. Leon Simon, attorney for the state, called Cook to the stand to refute Simpson's testimony that he only wanted to retrieve personal belongings when he and five men confronted two sports collectibles dealers and a middleman in a Las Vegas hotel room in September 2007.

"It was my stuff. I followed what I thought was the law," the 65-year-old former NFL star and actor testified in his first testimony in the Las Vegas case. "My lawyer told me I couldn't break into a guy's room. I didn't break into anybody's room. I didn't try to muscle the guys. The guys had my stuff, even though they claimed they didn't steal it."

Simpson didn't testify before his 1995 acquittal in Los Angeles in the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but did testify at the civil wrongful-death lawsuit that led to Cook's involvement.

Cook has been representing Goldman's father, Fred, since 2006 in efforts to collect a share of a $33.5 million judgment awarded in February 1997 to the estate of Ron Goldman and the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson.

Outside court, Cook said the original judgment of $19 million to the Goldman estate, with accumulated interest, is now more than $45 million. He said only some of it has been recovered.

"This is an eternal odyssey," Cook said told The Associated Press. "There is no closure here. Fred Goldman rejects closure."

Simpson, who has been held for more than four years at a prison in Lovelock, east of Reno, has been shackled at the ankles and wrists for the hearings in Las Vegas, which began Monday. He appears grayer, bulkier and somewhat weary, but has smiled at friends and family in the courtroom.

Fumo and attorney Patricia Palm called 10 witnesses the first two days, and Simpson on Wednesday.

The focus has been on the promises, payment and performance of longtime Simpson attorney Yale Galanter, who represented Simpson at trial and stayed with the case through oral arguments in a 2010 appeal that was rejected by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Galanter, of Miami, is due to testify Friday. He has declined comment ahead of that appearance.

Besides Cook, the state on Thursday called a psychiatrist, Dr. Gregory Brown, to rebut earlier testimony from a psychiatrist, Dr. Norton Roitman, who suggested that Simpson's perception of what happened in the hotel room may have been narrowed by sleeplessness, stress and the effects of several hours drinking alcohol before the confrontation.

Brown said he saw no obvious evidence that Simpson was impaired.

Simpson did acknowledge under questioning Wednesday that he didn't have a legal right to take some things from the Palace Station hotel room that didn't belong to him. Simpson said he thought those items would be returned.

There is no jury in the hearing and Simpson's fate will be determined by District Judge Linda Marie Bell. It remained unclear whether the judge plans to make an immediate ruling or issue a written order later.

While Simpson's previous court cases were media sensations, including his 1995 acquittal in the Los Angeles killings of his ex-wife and her friend, the Las Vegas hearing drew less attention until Simpson testified and the courtroom was full.

Simpson family members and friends filled one row. A marshal turned people away, sending them to an overflow room where video was streamed live.

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