OJ co-defendant gets date for plea deal in Vegas

AP News
Posted: Dec 30, 2010 8:10 PM
OJ co-defendant gets date for plea deal in Vegas

O.J. Simpson's co-defendant in a 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping case is scheduled to enter a plea Tuesday that would free him from jail and avoid the retrial he was granted by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Clarence "C.J." Stewart plans to plead an equivalent of no contest to felony robbery and conspiracy charges in a Las Vegas court, court officials and his lawyer told The Associated Press. The so-called Alford plea won't admit guilt, but will acknowledge that prosecutors could prove the case at trial.

Stewart, 56, would again be a convicted felon. But he would be freed from Nevada state prison and the Clark County jail, where he is now being held pending his court appearance.

He'll serve nine months under house arrest and an unspecified additional term of probation, defense attorney Brent Bryson said Thursday.

"He would like to get back to his family," Bryson said. "He has relatives in Louisiana." Stewart has been unable to raise $150,000 bail to be released pending a new trial.

The state high court granted Stewart the new trial with a ruling last October that Stewart didn't get a fair trial due to Simpson's notoriety. The ruling referred to the former football player, movie star and advertising pitchman's acquittal in Los Angeles on criminal charges in the 1994 slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson's lawyers are seeking a rehearing from the Nevada Supreme Court on a separate decision upholding Simpson's Las Vegas conviction and nine-to-33-year prison sentence.

Stewart will be returning for his plea to Clark County District Court, where he once faced the possibility of life in prison following his conviction a jury and Glass in the 2007 armed confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a room at a Las Vegas casino-hotel. A ruling is pending.

Judge Jackie Glass sentenced Stewart to 7 1/2 to 27 years for his conviction on kidnapping, armed robbery, conspiracy and other charge.

District Attorney David Roger confirmed last week that the agreement was near.

Roger also made it clear that Stewart would have to plead to a charge at least as serious as four other men who took part in the heist with Simpson and Stewart, and who each pleaded guilty to felonies before trial. None of them served prison time.