LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Former American football legend O.J. Simpson appeared in court in Las Vegas Wednesday for the first time on kidnapping and robbery charges, and was granted bail set at 125,000 dollars.
Simpson, who was famously acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife and her friend in a verdict that sparked outrage, was to be freed after posting bail and agreeing to surrender his passport.
“He’s very relieved, very happy. He just wants to get home and be with his friends and kids,” Simpson’s attorney Yale Galanter told reporters following the hearing before a packed courtroom.
Galanter praised the judge’s decision to release Simpson, and said there was no chance of his client trying to flee the charges.
“There is not a place on the planet where Mr Simpson could go where people would not recognise him,” Galanter said, adding that his client would be freed within “six to eight hours.”
Sixty-year-old former sports icon Simpson, wearing a blue prison jumpsuit and handcuffs was led into a courtroom via an underground tunnel for an appearance that had echoes of the circus-like atmosphere that accompanied his murder trial 12 years ago.
Pro-Simpson supporters gathered in groups outside the court while the prosecutor who led the murder case against him, Marcia Clark, was reported to be among interested spectators inside.
Simpson, who has been held in isolation since his arrest on Sunday, spoke in a husky voice only to confirm that he understood the charges against him and to confirm his place of residence.
He has been charged with 11 offenses, including two counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping with a deadly weapon, two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon. He could be jailed for life if convicted on the kidnapping charges.
A further hearing has been set for October 22.
The charges stem from an incident at a Las Vegas casino hotel on Thursday, when a gang of gun-toting men that included Simpson is reported to have stormed into a hotel room and snatched sporting memorabilia from two dealers.
In interviews prior to his arrest Simpson denied robbery, saying he was only recovering items that had been illegally stolen from him. He also denied that anyone in the group was armed.
On a tape that surfaced in US media reports on Monday, a man identified as Simpson could be heard angrily confronting the two sports memorabilia dealers.
Several unidentified voices are heard barking aggressive, expletive-laden demands at the victims of the heist, Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.
In a further twist to the case it emerged late Tuesday that Fromong had been hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering a massive heart attack.
Officials at Cedars Sinai Medical Center were not immediately available for comment early Wednesday.
Meanwhile, further details of the incident emerged in a police report that was obtained by several US media outlets.
According the report at least one member of the gang impersonated a police officer, brandishing a semi-automatic weapon and warning: “I’m a cop and you’re lucky this ain’t L.A. or you’d be dead.”