Out of jail, Simpson returns home to Florida

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LAS VEGAS -- O.J. Simpson boarded a flight to return home to Miami on Thursday, a day after he received a blistering rebuke from a judge who doubled his bail but allowed him to stay out of jail while he awaits trial in his armed robbery case.

Tom Scotto, who coordinated with four other friends to raise Simpson's bail, said he planned to meet Simpson when he arrives at Miami International Airport later in the day.

"He's on the flight," Scotto said.

When Scotto talked to Simpson the night before the bail revocation hearing, "He said, 'Pray for me.' That's a first. He was really nervous she wasn't going to let him out."

Simpson, 60, posted bond and was released from jail just after 11 p.m. Wednesday. He walked out by himself, got into a white Mercedes, and was driven away without speaking to the media.

The former football star was picked up last Friday in Florida by a bail bondsman and taken back to Nevada for violating terms of his release.

He had been ordered to have no contact with co-defendants or witnesses after he was freed on bail in September on charges of orchestrating the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers at a hotel room.

But he found himself before a judge again Wednesday because he mentioned co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart while leaving a sputtering, foul-mouthed phone message two months ago for his bail bondsman, Miguel Pereira of You Ring We Spring.

"I don't know Mr. Simpson what the heck you were thinking -- or maybe that's the problem -- you weren't," said Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass.

In the message, Simpson asked Pereira to tell Stewart how frustrated Simpson was about testimony during a preliminary hearing several days earlier.

"I just want, want C.J. to know that ... I'm tired of this (expletive)," Simpson said, according to a transcript. "Fed up with (expletives) changing what they told me. All right?"

Though there was no indication Stewart received the message, prosecutor Chris Owens suggested it was threatening. The judge merely said she didn't like the tone.

"I don't know if it's just arrogance. I don't know if it's ignorance," she said. "But you've been locked up at the Clark County Detention Center since Friday because of arrogance or ignorance -- or both."

Glass set Simpson's bond at $250,000, and required him to post a 15% premium, or $37,500, in cash before he could be released.

Defense attorney Yale Galanter also promised that Simpson would post the deed to his home after the judge learned that Simpson paid nothing toward his earlier bail.

Galanter also denied the call was an effort by Simpson to contact Stewart.

Simpson and two other men are scheduled to face trial April 7. They have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, coercion and conspiracy charges. An armed robbery conviction carries mandatory prison time. A kidnapping conviction could bring a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

Simpson's frustration about the preliminary hearing stemmed from accounts by the two memorabilia dealers, a go-between who arranged the meeting with them, and three former co-defendants who accepted plea deals in return for their testimony against him.

They allege Simpson led a group that burst into the hotel room and robbed the memorabilia dealers at gunpoint.

Simpson has maintained that no guns were displayed during the confrontation, that he never asked anyone to bring guns and that he did not know anyone had guns. He has said he intended only to retrieve items that had been stolen from him by a former agent, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
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