o.j._simpson_mug_shot.jpgLAS VEGAS (AP) _ O.J. Simpson is headed to prison for at least nine years, but a prosecutor says the former football star could have spent less time behind bars if he had accepted a plea deal before he was convicted.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger said Simpson was offered a deal for less prison time than the nine- to 33-year prison terms the graying former football star was sentenced to on Friday for kidnapping and assaulting two sports memorabilia dealers with a deadly weapon.

“Mr. Simpson wanted something just short of a public apology,'' Roger said. “We didn't think that was appropriate.''

Roger did not offer specifics of the deal and Simpson's defense lawyers declined to discuss details.

“There was nothing that was palatable. Nothing acceptable,'' Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter said.

Co-defendant Clarence “C.J.'' Stewart also rejected a deal that would have had him plead guilty to unspecified reduced charges in return for a promised sentence less than the 7 and 1/2 to 27 years he received, the prosecutor and defense lawyers said.

“It was a universal deal,'' said Stewart's lawyer, Brent Bryson. “Both defendants had to accept it. As we know, that didn't happen.''

An emotional and hoarse Simpson said nothing about plea deals when he stood in shackles and blue jail garb and apologized before he was sentenced by Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass.

“In no way did I mean to hurt anybody, to steal anything from anyone,'' Simpson said, his voice cracking. “I'm sorry. I'm sorry for all of it.''

The judge said she was not convinced, and she denied that Simpson's acquittal in Los Angeles in the 1994 slaying of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, had any effect on a sentence that will make Simpson 70 years old before he is eligible for parole.

“I'm not here to try and cause any retribution or any payback for anything else. I want that to be perfectly clear to everybody,'' the judge said.

She called the evidence overwhelming, with the planning, confrontation and aftermath all recorded on audio or videotape.

“You went to the room, and you took guns,'' Glass told Simpson. “You used force. You took property, whether it was yours or somebody else's. And in this state, that amounts to robbery, with use of a deadly weapon.''

“And Mr. Stewart, you got caught up in something,'' the judge added. “I'm not sure how much you knew. But clearly Mr. Simpson knew.''

Simpson and Stewart were each convicted Oct. 3 of 12 criminal charges, including the kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon which led to their sentences, and the armed robbery, conspiracy and burglary sentences that the judge folded in with the rest. Glass threw out two coercion charges.

“We were preparing Mr. Simpson for the worst,'' Galanter said later. “We felt we did really well. Obviously, he's upset about the possibility of doing nine years.''

Roger called it “a fair and just sentence under the circumstances'' and said during a news conference that because the crimes were considered violent felonies, Simpson and Stewart won't be eligible for good time credits to lessen the minimum sentences.

The prosecutor said he did not expect they would immediately be released when they do seek parole.

Galanter and Bryson said they intend to appeal their clients' convictions. But they postponed plans to file notices of appeal Friday, after Glass asked them attend a Tuesday morning restitution hearing concerning the items stolen from memorabilia peddlers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

The hearing will coincide with sentencings for four former co-defendants in the case who took plea deals and testified against Simpson and Stewart. Michael McClinton, Charles Cashmore, Walter Alexander and Charles Ehrlich each could get probation or prison time. McClinton could get up to 11 years; the others face less.


AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

Pictured above is O.J. Simpson.