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Strong opinions in L.A. to Simpson sentencing

December 5, 2008 | 11:00 am

Here is a sampling of reaction in Los Angeles and beyond to the sentencing of O.J. Simpson,  in Las Vegas. A judge sentenced him to a lengthy prison term for the kidnapping and robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers. Earlier, it was reported that he was sentenced to a 16-year term, but attorneys now say he'll be eligible for parole after nine years.

Updated: 1:58 p.m.

Downtown Los Angeles

At Bally’s Total Fitness club inside the Macy’s Plaza in downtown L.A., Kevin Donovan, 42, was sprinting on the treadmill keeping tabs on the Simpson sentencing on television.

“It’s ironic, technically this is [Simpson’s] first offense considering just how many times he’s been in the news,” Donovan said.

Donovan said he believe the judge might have given Simpson too harsh a sentence.

“I don’t know if she was trying to send a message,” Donovan said.

--Ruben Vives

 Downtown Los Angeles

Valentino Flores, 32, city library worker, multi-tasked as he watched the sentencing unfold. While juggling a taco and a cellphone conversation with his girlfriend, Flores watched CNN as he ate in the food court of the Citigroup Center in downtown L.A.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “This will probably be Simpson’s late learning lesson.”

While in prison, Simpson will probably “think about where his life has gone wrong,” Flores added.

Asked whether the judge was harsh on Simpson, Flores said no.  The judge tried to rationalize Simpson’s plea in which he spoke of his friendship with convicted Clarence Stewart, Flores
said. But the fact remained: Simpson had a gun at the time of incident, Flores said.

--Ruben Vives

Read more after the jump.

Downtown Los Angeles

Laurie Levenson, a professor of law at Loyola Law School, was in disbelief after watching Simpson’s sentencing.

“It is hard to believe that O.J. is actually going away,” she said. Levenson, an expert in criminal law, has written extensively about Simpson’s recent trial, as well as his 1995 murder trial. She said she thought Glass was particularly hard on Simpson because of his past.

“I think she hammered him,” Levenson said of Glass. “Even though she said she wasn’t taking into account his prior acquittal, I think she took into account his disregard for the criminal justice system. He just takes the law in his own hands.”

Levenson said she did not think Simpson’s apology during the trial helped. “I don’t think his apology helped him. It seems like too little too late. Moreover, he’s an actor, and always makes himself seem like the victim. It’s not really what the court was looking for in terms of true remorse.”

--Kate Linthicum

South Los Angeles


Lawrence Tolliver, the owner of Tolliver’s Barber Shop in South Los Angeles, watched the sentencing live on television Friday morning.

He thought that the prison sentence handed down to Simpson by Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass was due punishment for an “arrogant and stupid” crime.

“I think its equivalent to his stupidity,” Tolliver said of the sentence. “I think that a reasonable person would have went to the police in the beginning and said, ‘These people have my property.’ Instead he brought in friends with guns. It just shows how ignorant he was. He deserves the sentence. It’s fair considering what he did.”

Kurt Wilkerson, one of Tolliver’s customers, also thought the sentencing was fair. He said Simpson deserved to be punished after pushing his luck. “He should have laid low and took it easy after the first verdict went in his favor,” Wilkerson said.

“He’s a watched man. He’s just arrogant, I guess.”

Wilkerson suspected that Simpson’s 1995 murder trial probably influenced this outcome of today’s trial. “It probably had something to do with it,” he said. Tolliver disagreed. “I don’t think he was given any more sentence because he was OJ Simpson,” he said. “I don’t have any sympathy for him. He’s arrogant and stupid.”

--Kate Linthicum

Downtown Los Angeles

Sitting in the food court of the Grand Central Market in downtown L.A., Stan Enriquez, 59, and his friend, Dean Qualls, watched the Simpson sentencing while listening to KFI on a small transistor radio.

“He deserved it,” said Enriquez, wiping his mouth after eating a taco just shortly was escorted by deputies out of the courtroom. “He committed the crime.”

Enriquez, a former telephone line installer, said he had installed Simpson’s telephone line at his Brentwood home a year before the murder of his wife and Ron Goldman.

“I feel bad about it,” Enriquez said. “Basically, they’re trying to recover stolen items from thieves and then you let the thieves prosecute you. It doesn’t make any sense.” Both men, from Santa Monica, said the judge was hard on Simpson.

"She was a hanging judge,” Qualls said.

--Ruben Vives