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USA UK and Malta News
13/11/2007 - 22:44

Editoweb USA News: Witness says O.J. wanted 'heat' in Vegas

LAS VEGAS - One of the men who accompanied O.J. Simpson to a hotel-room confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers testified Tuesday that the former football star wanted them to bring "heat" to show they meant business.

Simpson, his golfing buddy, Walter Alexander, and Charles "Spencer" McClinton met up before attending a mutual friend's wedding Sept. 13, Alexander testified. Simpson asked Alexander if he would accompany him to the Palace Station Hotel-Casino, where he was to meet the memorabilia dealers, Alexander said.

"After he asked me if I could watch his back, he leaned forward and it was kind of like, 'Hey, do you think you can get some heat?'" said Alexander, who accepted a plea deal to testify against Simpson. "'Just in case things go wrong, can you bring some heat?'"

The testimony came on the third day of a preliminary hearing in the alleged armed robbery case. Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure will decide after the hearing whether there is enough evidence for Simpson and two other men to stand trial.

Simpson, 60, has maintained in interviews and through his lawyers that he never saw any guns or asked anyone to bring them to the hotel room. Wearing dark glasses and a dark suit with a white shirt and white handkerchief in the breast pocket, he sometimes smiled but frequently shook his head as Alexander testified.

Alexander said that not only did Simpson know there were guns, he gave an order to McClinton to draw his weapon before the men entered the room. When he saw McClinton waving his weapon around and shouting orders at the memorabilia dealers, he realized he was taking part in an armed robbery, Alexander said.

"It changed the whole plan," said Alexander. "At first the plan was we were to just show the guns. But right before we went into the room he told Spencer to put the gun in his hand."

Simpson and two other men face 12 criminal charges including armed robbery, kidnapping with a weapon and conspiracy. A kidnapping conviction could result in a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. An armed robbery conviction could mean mandatory prison time.

Simpson has said he intended only to retrieve items that had he said were 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.

Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., was taken into custody two days after the alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley at a Las Vegas hotel-casino.

He pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to conspiracy to commit robbery, a felony, in a plea deal that could get him up to six years in prison. District Attorney David Roger has said prosecutors will seek a suspended sentence, which could get Alexander probation.

McClinton and another man, Charles Cashmore, have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and also agreed to testify against Simpson.

During cross-examination by Simpson attorney Yale Galanter, Alexander acknowledged that he was angry that prosecutors hadn't offered him immunity for his testimony and that he had wanted one of Simpson's friends to help him pay for an attorney.

Alexander testified that Simpson told him he was worried that the dealers might be armed and he wanted to bring the weapons so his group could protect themselves as well as intimidate the dealers into handing over the memorabilia.

After Simpson asked if they could bring weapons, McClinton spoke up, telling him, "I'm licensed to carry guns. I have plenty of guns," Alexander testified.

Alexander said he accepted a .22-caliber pistol from McClinton that he tucked into his waistband while McClinton strapped on a shoulder holster containing a .45.

Inside the room, he said, McClinton made everybody nervous when he kept waving his gun around and shouting orders at Fromong and Beardsley.

Alexander and Simpson told McClinton to "chill out," Alexander said.

McClinton, 49, pleaded guilty in another courtroom Tuesday to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, felonies that combined could get him up to 11 years in prison.


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