Prosecution rests robbery case against OJ Simpson in Las Vegas
Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 9:42 pm
By KEN RITTER
Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The man who told a jury that O.J. Simpson asked him to bring guns and “look menacing” during a hotel room confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers acknowledged Monday he didn’t tell police that last October.
“You have a whole conversation with police and you never say ‘O.J. said to bring guns?”’ Simpson defense lawyer Gabriel Grasso asked the witness, Michael McClinton, during a lengthy cross-examination.
“It may have slipped my mind,” McClinton responded. “But Mr. Simpson knew I had a gun. He read my concealed weapons permit.”
McClinton, 50, a Las Vegas resident who worked as a security guard, was the last of four former co-defendants to testify against Simpson in the trial. After he finished two days of testimony, prosecutors rested their case against the former football star and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart.
Simpson and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 criminal charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping, and could face five years to life in prison in the Sept. 13. 2007, confrontation in a Las Vegas casino hotel room. Simpson has said he only wanted to retrieve mementos of his storied career from the memorabilia dealers.
As the defense started its case, Simpson’s lawyers brought Alfred Beardsley back to the witness stand, wearing blue jail scrubs with his wrists shackled to a chain belt around his waist.
“I’d like to be better dressed,” said Beardsley, one of the two memorabilia dealers allegedly robbed at gunpoint. He is a convicted felon being held on a California parole violation. He wore a shirt, tie and jacket when he testified for the prosecution last week.
Under questioning by Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter, Beardsley repeated that he thought charges against Simpson should be dropped, and that he and Simpson had been “set up” by Thomas Riccio, the collectibles broker who arranged their casino hotel room meeting.
“Everything just smelled of a setup,” Beardsley said.
“Did Mr. Simpson ever try to manipulate your testimony or tell you how to testify in this trial?” Galanter asked.
“Absolutely not,” Beardsley said.
Galanter also brought police Sgt. Rod Hunt back to the stand to describe how Simpson offered his immediate cooperation to police, including providing his personal cell phone number to a patrol officer. Hunt supervised the robbery detectives who investigated the case.
Earlier, McClinton told the jury he brought and displayed a .45-caliber handgun during the six-minute confrontation with memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley and gave another gun to his friend and former co-defendant, Walter Alexander.
Simpson has claimed he saw no guns in the room. But McClinton said he had his gun drawn when he entered the room and that Simpson was close enough that their shoulders could have touched.
Grasso returned repeatedly to McClinton’s failure to tell police on Oct. 15, 2007, that Simpson told him to bring weapons.
“You must’ve forgotten, right?” Grasso asked.
“Sometimes that happens,” McClinton said.
Grasso noted that McClinton pleaded guilty to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in an agreement that called for him to testify against Simpson. He could get probation or up to 11 years in prison when he is sentenced after the trial. He also has surrendered his concealed weapons permit.
McClinton spent the entire morning on the witness stand while Grasso offered a defense transcript of an audio tape McClinton secretly recorded at a restaurant where he went with Simpson and others after the confrontation.
Grasso led McClinton, line-by-line, through a comparison of the defense transcript of the recording with a prosecution transcript used when McClinton was questioned by District Attorney David Roger.
McClinton acknowledged differences in the two transcripts and at one point said laughter that had been attributed to him was someone else’s.
“There are numerous deletions and additions that you agreed that are not on the transcript,” Grasso said after hours of replaying audio clips.
“Yes,” McClinton responded.
Prosecutors had used the tape to bolster McClinton’s testimony.
“This ain’t no major crime,” Simpson is heard saying on the tape.
The trial is scheduled for a day off today, and Simpson’s lawyers say a Simpson’s friend scheduled to testify Wednesday could be their last witness. Outside court, they said no decision had been made whether Simpson would testify.
The judge indicated closing arguments could come Thursday, after several witnesses for Stewart.
AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.