Co-defendant seeks delay of OJ Simpson trial

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LAS VEGAS-O.J. Simpson’s only remaining co-defendant made a last-ditch pitch Wednesday to persuade a judge to postpone the start of their armed robbery and kidnapping trial.

LAS VEGAS-O.J. Simpson’s only remaining co-defendant made a last-ditch pitch Wednesday to persuade a judge to postpone the start of their armed robbery and kidnapping trial. A lawyer for Clarence "C.J." Stewart filed a motion asking Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass for a delay of the Sept. 8 trial until the Nevada Supreme Court considers his request for a separate trial. Attorney Robert Lucherini argues it will be impossible for Stewart to get a fair trial because of Simpson’s celebrity. Glass has twice rejected requests for a separate trial. The judge pushed back the trial date once, from April 7, but says he won’t do it again. A Supreme Court clerk said the justices hadn’t scheduled discussions on Lucherini’s Aug. 4 appeal for a separate trial. Stewart is one of five men who accompanied Simpson during a confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers last Sept. 13 at a Las Vegas casino hotel room. Stewart, 54, and Simpson, 61, have pleaded not guilty to felony charges of kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. A kidnapping conviction carries the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole, and a robbery conviction would mean mandatory prison time. Their four former co-defendants have accepted plea deals and agreed to testify against Simpson. Lucherini argues in his state Supreme Court filing that it will be impossible for Stewart to get a fair trial partly because of Simpson’s 1995 acquittal in Los Angeles of criminal charges that he murdered his ex-wife and her friend. The former Hall of Fame football player, actor and commercial pitchman was later found liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and was ordered to pay a $33.5 million civil judgment to Goldman’s family. Lucherini said a Las Vegas jury would be swayed by reminders of the "hideous murders that many people believe were committed by Mr. Simpson," and that Stewart could be convicted only because he was named as a defendant with Simpson. Simpson maintains he went to the hotel room to retrieve items stolen from him, that he never saw guns in the room, didn’t know anyone had guns and never asked anyone to bring guns. Stewart’s lawyer has said Stewart believed Simpson was retrieving property that belonged to him. Lucherini and lawyers for Simpson did not immediately respond Wednesday to messages seeking comment about the latest request, which Glass is scheduled to consider at a hearing Monday. Court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer said 500 people had been summoned for jury duty for the trial. AP ______ Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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