OJ Simpson to be freed from jail on 125,000 dollar bail

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LAS VEGAS, Sep 19 (Reuters) O J Simpson was expected to be freed from a Las Vegas jail today after a judge granted the former American football star 125,000 dollar bail on charges he took part in an armed robbery of his own sports memorabilia.

Simpson, who was acquitted of killing his ex-wife and her friend in 1995 in a sensational double-murder trial that left his reputation in tatters, did not enter a plea to charges of armed robbery, assault and kidnapping during a brief hearing before a Las Vegas judge.

A subdued and clearly weary Simpson, 60, came to court handcuffed and shackled at the waist in blue jail garb and said ''Yes sir,'' in a raspy voice when asked by District Judge Joe Bonaventure if he understood the charges.

He was expected to plead innocent at his next court appearance in October and defense attorneys said they would fight the charges at a trial, while acknowledging Simpson's battered image.

''We understand who our client is and we know what the public perception is,'' attorney Yale Galanter said of the man whose murder trial captivated world attention more than a decade ago.

More than 50 journalists attended the proceedings, along with Simpson's girlfriend, daughter, sister and brother-in-law, and a circus-like atmosphere on the broad front steps of the courthouse was reminiscent of the earlier trial.

A court spokesman, Michael Sommermeyer, said Simpson was expected to post bail immediately and would likely be freed later today.

Under the bail conditions, Simpson, who lives in Florida, will have to surrender his passport but will be allowed to travel within the United States.

''He is relieved. He just wants to get home and be with his family and kids,'' Galanter said.

VEGAS ARREST Simpson was arrested on Sunday and had been held without bail.

The next hearing in the case was set for the week of October 22.

The Las Vegas charges stem from what authorities say was the armed theft last week by Simpson of his own sports memorabilia from a pair of collectors who were staying at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino.

Simpson has told reporters he did nothing wrong and was simply trying to retrieve his own collectibles, personal photos, his Hall of Fame certificate and other items he said had been stolen by a former sports agent.

Simpson was a record-setting running back in the National Football League nicknamed ''The Juice'' who parlayed that fame into a career in movies and television.

He was charged with double murder after his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, 25, were found stabbed and slashed to death in front of her Los Angeles home in 1994.

Simpson was acquitted of murder in a Los Angeles criminal court in 1995. Two years later, a civil court jury found him responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay 33.5 million dollar in damages to the victims' families.

The new charges against Simpson have brought the US media out in force.

Cable news channels broadcast the hearing live, with their own in-house pundits commenting on every move of the 10-minute proceedings, including the demeanor of Simpson -- serious, slightly shaking his head and looking incredulous when the judge read the list of charges against him.

REUTERS RC BST0100

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