Ex-Charles Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi began his 1997 book, "Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder," published by Island Books of Seattle, thusly: "From the moment O.J. Simpson became a suspect in this double murder case, it was 'in the air,' perhaps as in no other case within memory, that he might get off despite the conclusive evidence of his guilt."
Fourteen years after those LA murders, the air of innocence was cleared some today as O.J., 61, who ran wild on the gridirons of America, in a courtyard in Brentwood, and a hotel room in Las Vegas, was sentenced by Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass to 15 years for kidnapping and armed robbery. Depending on variations in the sentence, he could serve from a minimum of nine years to a maximum of life.
Simpson, who never testified at his trial, made an almost pathetic plea for leniency. Seemingly on the verge of tears, voice breaking at times, he said he just wanted to catch the guys "who have been stealing from my family," and made other claims he was unwilling to earlier make under oath. "So, I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to hurt anybody..."
Fred Goldman and daughter Kim - father and sister of Ron Goldman - were among those in attendance. After Simpson escaped a criminal conviction for killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in 1994, the Goldmans won a $33 million civil decision against O.J. when a jury effectively agreed that Simpson killed both victims. "He's gonna be where he belongs," Fred Goldman said outside the courtroom this morning.
Judge Glass said the 1995 criminal verdict exonerating Simpson didn't matter in this case. Still, she said she wondered at times if O.J. was arrogant, ignorant or both. "It was both...you believed you could do in Las Vegas what you couldn't do elsewhere..." she said. It was Simpson's own words, caught on tape during the heist and played during the Vegas trial, that led to his conviction, she said. "How often do I as a judge sit here and hear everything laid out for me...?" In the end, what was convincing was O.J.'s voice, in the air.