LAS VEGAS -- His leg shackles rattling as he shuffled to and from the witness stand, O.J. Simpson made his own case yesterday for a new trial on armed robbery charges with testimony that he relied on the advice of his trusted attorney when he tried to reclaim mementos from his football glory days.
"It was my stuff. I followed what I thought was the law," the 65-year-old former NFL star and actor said. "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 said he took the advice of his longtime former lawyer, Yale Galanter, and didn't testify in his Las Vegas trial at which he was convicted in 2008 of armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges and sentenced to 9 to 33 years in prison.
His fall from long-ago fame and fortune was on display as a grayer, bulkier Simpson made his way through the court.
H. Leon Simon, attorney for the state, conducted a brief cross-examination that focused on some of the same details Simpson attorney Patricia Palm raised about advice Simpson received from his trial lawyers, Galanter and co-counsel Gabriel Grasso.
"Mr. Galanter advised me not to testify," Simpson reiterated.
"You made a decision to follow Mr. Galanter's advice, rather than Mr. Grasso's, and not testify?" Simon asked.
"Yes," Simpson said.
Simpson did acknowledge that he didn't have a legal right to take some things from the Palace Station hotel room where he and five men confronted two sports memorabilia dealers -- including baseballs signed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider. Simpson said he thought those items would be returned later.
Simpson's bid for freedom hinges on showing that Galanter had conflicted interests and gave him bad trial and appellate advice. Galanter, of Miami, is due to testify Friday. He has declined to comment.
Asked by Palm if he knew he could have gotten as little as 30 months in prison if he pleaded guilty to robbery, Simpson said no, and that he would have considered it if he had known.
Simpson also said Galanter led him to believe he could not be convicted on the charges.
"If you understood you could be convicted on the state's evidence, would you have testified?" Palm asked.
Simpson said yes.