LAS VEGAS — Four times, in a halting, broken voice, O.J. Simpson said "I'm sorry" in court on Friday.
Yet for all his compunction about a September 2007 raid and armed robbery at a casino hotel for which he was convicted of 12 felonies, Simpson also continued to insist that he had done nothing illegal.
Judge Jackie Glass, facing down the man acquitted in perhaps the most-watched murder trial of the 20th century, berated Simpson for arrogance and "more than stupidity" and sentenced him to a minimum of nine years in state prison.
"I realize I was stupid, and I'm sorry," Simpson said, his voice breaking in a rambling, 5-minute plea for leniency. "I didn't know I was doing anything illegal. I'm sorry for all of it."
He will be 70 when he's eligible for parole in nine years. His maximum sentence could be 33 years, according to Elana Roberto, the judge's clerk.
His co-defendant and former golfing buddy, C.J. Stewart, will serve 71/2 to 27 years in prison. Both men were convicted by the same jury of the same 12 charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery. Prosecutors told the judge Stewart was "less culpable" than Simpson in the incident at the Palace Station casino hotel. Simpson said he and five other men were trying to retrieve sports memorabilia.
The judge could have sent both men to prison for the rest of their lives. The state parole agency recommended at least 18 years.
Because the crimes were considered violent felonies, Simpson and Stewart will not be eligible for good-behavior credits to lessen their sentences.
Simpson, 61, and Stewart, 54, who have been jailed since a jury found them guilty on Oct. 3, will begin their sentences immediately. Glass denied motions to release the men pending their appeals to the Nevada Supreme Court.
District Attorney David Roger said Simpson and Stewart were offered plea agreements during the trial that would have resulted in lesser sentences. He would not provide details.
Simpson's lawyer suggested that his client was a victim of payback for his acquittal in 1995 in the Los Angeles slaying of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. "Despite our best efforts, it's very difficult to separate the California case from the Nevada case," Yale Galanter said.
Said Fred Goldman, father of Ron Goldman, "We are thrilled, and it's a bittersweet moment. It was satisfying seeing him in shackles like he belongs."
The Goldmans took a share of the credit for Simpson's fate, saying their relentless pursuit of his assets to satisfy a $33.5-million wrongful-death judgment "pushed him over the edge" and led him to commit the robbery.
Nicole Simpson's sister, Denise Brown, said in a statement, "Allowing wealth, power and control to consume himself, he made a horrific choice on June 12, 1994, which has spiraled into where he is today."