Attorney: OJ Simpson Was Aware of Guns in Las Vegas "Sting"

The man accused by OJ Simpson of mishandling his 2008 Las Vegas robbery-kidnapping case takes the stand Friday

By Jonathan Lloyd and Patrick Healy
|  Saturday, May 18, 2013  |  Updated 5:17 AM PDT
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Who's Who: Simpson Kidnap-Robbery Trial

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OJ Simpson (left) claims that his former attorney Yale Galanter (right) mishandled the trial that led to his robbery-kidnapping conviction and prison sentence.

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OJ Simpson's Appeal Lawyer Calls Former Lawyer "Unethical"

O.J. Simpson continued his bid for a new trial for his guilty verdict in connection with a 2008 Las Vegas hotel heist. His appeal lawyer outlined the actions of his former lawyer that he said could be considered a conflict of interest. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 16, 2013.
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The attorney who represented OJ Simpson in a trial stemming from a bizarre 2007 Las Vegas hotel room raid testified Friday that he advised Simpson to call police after the former NFL Hall of Fame player mentioned plans to retrieve sports memorabilia.

Attorney Yale Galanter added that Simpson confided to him that he knew two individuals in the group involved in the raid -- intended to retrieve sports memorabilia from a dealer -- had guns.

Galanter's advice to Simpson -- who was sentenced to prison after the 2008 trial -- and the steakhouse meeting before the raid have been key parts of this week's hearing in Las Vegas. The ex-USC Trojan wants a judge to throw out the robbery-kidnapping convictions on the claim that Galanter failed to disclose that he knew about the hotel room raid in advance, told Simpson it was legal and provided bad advice at trial.

Galanter, who previously won an acquittal in a Simpson road rage case, was asked Friday by attorneys for the state about a steakhouse dinner with Simpson the night before the raid. Simpson was in Las Vegas for a wedding, Galanter was working on a case, so the two decided to meet, Galanter said.

"In the middle of him explaining the rehearsal dinner, he said that he and some of his boys may be doing a sting in the morning," said Galanter. "When he first mentioned it, it went over my head. It was social, and about a minute later I leaned over and said, 'What are you talking about? What sting? What are you doing?'"

Simpson told him "some of his boys had an opportunity to get some of his property back," Galanter testified.

"He said he finally had a lead on some personal items of his that had been stolen from his house in California," Galanter added. "He wanted to know what I thought about it. I told him to call the police."

In testimony that contradicts Simpson's repeated assertion that he was not aware two members of the group involved in the confrontation were carrying guns, Galanter claimed Simpson told him he asked his companions to bring guns.

Simpson testified Wednesday that guns were "never a subject" in conversations leading up to the hotel raid.

Galanter's testimony is an opportunity to defend his role in the case Friday during what is expected to be the final day of testimony. It is not clear when the judge will issue a ruling, but the outcome is part of a process that will determine whether the 65-year-old Simpson spends the rest of his life in prison.

He has already served four years in prison, but must serve nine of the maximum 33-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.

During Thursday's proceedings, prosecutors told the judge they want to call a surprise witness. Simpsons' attorneys objected, claiming it was too late to add a witness.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Leon Simon told the Simpson attorneys a woman contacted the DA's office after Simpson testified Wednesday, according to Simpson's defense.  Outside the courtroom, Simon had no comment.

The judge is expected to rule Friday on the prosecution's request.

Simpson did not testify during the criminal trial -- a decision a member of his trial legal team said was a mistake during testimony earlier this week -- but he was on the stand for about six hours Wednesday. Simpson provided his version of events leading up to a confrontation at the Palace Station hotel during which the former Heisman trophy winner and an impromptu posse retrieved sports memorabilia and other items.

Simpson said the items disappeared after his 1995 "trial of the century" acquittal in the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

After going over witness statements, Galanter said he decided against putting Simpson on the stand.

"It was my opinion that him taking the witness stand would be problematic," said Galanter. "I just seriously thought we'd get crucified. I felt the evidence was overwhelming. I just thought it would be suicide."

Simpson testified he did not want anyone in his group to bring guns. One of the dealers, Bruce Fromong, testified during the original trial that a gun was pointed at him and he was told he would be shot if he did not cooperate.

It's not clear what facets of Simpson's testimony the potential witness would contradict. Simon was to meet with her late Thursday.

On Thursday, Simpson's position was bolstered by Malcolm LaVergne, who joined Simpson's legal team after the conviction to work on the appeal.  LaVergne suggested it might have been appropriate for Galanter to testify for Simpson, describing the advice he gave, rather than representing him.

LaVergne was asked if, in his opinion, Galanter's decisions were affected by a conflict of interest.

"From what I now know, absolutely," LaVergne testified.

As for the items Simpson wanted, a judge eventually ruled that the items should be delivered to Simpson's civil case attorney.

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