US & Canada

OJ Simpson testifies in courtroom bid for retrial

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Media captionThe BBC's Alastair Leithead: "The media attention isn't anything like it was some years ago"

Former American football star and actor OJ Simpson has made his own case for a new trial on armed robbery charges.

He told a court in Nevada he had not received proper legal representation when the case was heard in 2008, and also that he had only been attempting to reclaim stolen personal memorabilia.

"It was my stuff. I followed what I thought was the law," he testified.

Simpson is serving up to 33 years for the theft at gunpoint of memorabilia from a hotel room in Las Vegas in 2007.

The 65 year old was famously acquitted of the murder of his former wife and her friend in Los Angeles in 1995.

'Ineffectual' lawyer

The current five-day hearing seeks to determine if Simpson's complaints of ineffective representation by his original lawyer, Yale Galanter, warrant a new trial.

The former star NFL running back-turned-actor was accompanied by five other men when he tried to reclaim family pictures and footballs peddled by sport memorabilia dealers at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in 2007.

Simpson said from the witness box on Wednesday that he had only tried to reclaim what he believed were stolen goods.

"I didn't break into anybody's room and didn't attack or muscle anyone," he told the court in Las Vegas.

During the incident, two of the men with Simpson carried guns.

"There was no talk of guns at all," Simpson said.

Image caption Simpson answered questions from his legal team

He was also asked about his relationship with Mr Galanter, who Simpson says was ineffectual at the trial.

He claims Mr Galanter had a personal interest in keeping private his own advice to Simpson.

"Yale had a good relationship with the media," said Simpson. "I was in the media a lot. He was able to refute many of the tabloid stories."

Mr Galanter, according to Simpson, had repeatedly assured him that he could take back items related to his sporting career - items Simpson believed had been stolen - as long as no-one trespassed and no force was used.

The lawyer also convinced the football player not to testify at his own trial and did not mention a plea deal from prosecutors that would have reduced his prison sentence, Simpson said.

The court has already heard testimony from Mr Galanter's co-counsel, Gabriel Grasso. Mr Grasso has testified that it was Mr Galanter's decision for Simpson not to testify.

The lawyer also accused Mr Galanter of lining his own pockets, while telling him the "shoestring" defence could not afford to hire expert witnesses.

Simpson is expected to answer questions from his legal team on each of the 19 points in support of his request.

He is then set to face cross-examination from government lawyers, who want to keep him in prison.

Back in 1995, in what was dubbed the trial of the century, Simpson was acquitted of the stabbing murders a year earlier of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

A civil jury in a wrongful death lawsuit later found him liable for their deaths, awarding their families $33.5m (£22m) in damages.

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