O.J. Simpson

AP Photo/John Locher, Pool

As O.J. Simpson's trial on armed robbery charges kicked off Monday in Las Vegas, the prosecutor looking to put the former football star behind bars—possibly for the rest of his life—urged the jury to make this the "final chapter" in Simpson's infamous and, in recent years, sordid story.

Simpson has demonstrated "a pattern of arrogance coupled with hypocrisy," Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Owens said in his opening statement. "Ladies and gentlemen, you are the jurors in this case and the final story is going to be told by you.

"You will be able to write that final chapter, the chapter of arrogance and hypocrisy, and that will be the true verdict. The verdict you can feel good about."

In trying to pin the September 2007 shakedown of two sports memorabilia dealers at a Vegas hotel on Simpson, Owens connected the alleged crime to a scheme to avoid paying a 1997 $33.5 million wrongful death judgment to the families of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, whom Simpson was acquitted of murdering in 1995.

Owens suggested that the Naked Gun star deliberately hid career memorabilia and other valuable assets from the Goldmans and Browns in order to back his claims that he couldn't afford any restitution.

And when memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley refused to return some of those items, Simpson and his cronies, including codefendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, armed themselves and went to retrieve the signed footballs, pictures and other pieces by force, the prosecution contends.

"The audio will show threats, it will show force, it will show demands and it will show the taking of property from the victims in this case," Owens said, referring to the recording made by Tom Riccio, who arranged the meeting and was later given immunity after turning the tape over to authorities.

Simpson's team, of course, was ready to tackle all mentions of the Brown-Simpson-Goldman murder and its aftermath.

"This case, as [Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass] has instructed you so many times I have lost count, is not about what occurred in California," defense attorney Yale Galanter told the nine-man, three-woman jury that was seated on Friday.

"This case is not about Fred Goldman. It is about what happened in Las Vegas last year this time and whether crimes were committed…This is not a smear campaign against Mr. Simpson, nor should it be. This is not about writing a book and writing a last chapter about Mr. Simpson and his life nor should it be. And Mr. Owens knows that."

Simpson and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts of armed robbery, burglary, kidnapping, assault with a weapon, conspiracy and coercion for the alleged heist, which took place Sept. 13, 2007, at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino.

"This was a recovery. This wasn't a robbery," Galanter pressed, calling Beardsley and Fromong "hustlers" who were "in it for the money."

"They are still in it for money," the lawyer said. "They want to write books." All the tapes mean, Galanter said, is that Simpson likes to talk. "He talks to everyone he meets."

Simpson has maintained that he was merely confronting the two dealers to reclaim items that belonged to him in the first place and that he had no idea that two of the men with him would be carrying guns.

Four of Simpson's alleged cohorts have pleaded to lesser charges and will be testifying for the prosecution.

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