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Monday, September 17
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Monday began with a bang, even though we started while most of "Sin City" was still out and about, enjoying the bright lights and all-night parties. At the courthouse around 2 a.m. Vegas time, there was a feeling that the big story had come to town and that O.J. Simpson had once again become a media firestorm.
2:00 a.m. PT: For our crew, this all began early on Friday with a phone call from our desk that O.J. had a scrape with the law. The stories would change a bit throughout the day, but the same basic timeline stood: O.J. and five other men allegedly entered a room at the Palace Station Hotel-Casino with guns drawn. Apparently, O.J. was tipped off that some of his memorabilia was up for auction, stuff he claims was stolen from home ... and ... he was already booked for a trip to Vegas for a friend's wedding.
So by early Sunday morning, we were live in front of the robbery division at the Metro Vegas Police Department. O.J. would be arrested at the Palms Casino by 11 a.m. and the circus would start soon after. The parking lot in front of the robbery division was empty when we began and by the time O.J. was taken away, some five hours after he arrived, every space was full and more TV trucks were trying to cram their way into a position.
Thankfully by that time I was outside the back door of the Clark County Detention Center. One camera was with me and producer Kelly Burke; our other camera, manned by Keith Railey, had made its way up the parking structure across the street from the front of the courthouse. Keith saw a view of the jail arrival area that no one else knew about. From his vantage point, he would be the only one in the world to see and capture O.J. being led out of a small reddish police SUV. Hands cuffed behind him, the former football star, a man acquitted of murder, slouched a bit and was led a bit dejected into the detention center. Gone was the strong walk, the head held high, the cockiness we had seen over the weekend when he denied any wrongdoing.
O.J. would soon be denied bail and as one police officer told me, "these are very serious charges, we expect him to be in jail at least over night. Many Web sites and online reports would soon insist that O.J. had bail set, but our contacts with the police department maintained their story. They were right, bail would never be set and Simpson would stay in jail overnight.
2:30 a.m. PT: We are outside the Clark County Detention Center and more cameras and satellite trucks have now arrived. Around the jail (detention center) and across the street at the courthouse, parking spaces are full. I can see the small windows, three feet by one foot; they are darkened, but inmates can peer out. Their silhouettes are eerie at this time of the morning and a couple of men wave at us.
5:15 a.m. PT: Bill Hemmer and his crew arrive on a red eye from New York. They haven't slept and like us the day before, they go right to work. More people are on the way, including Greta who is in the air and scheduled to arrive in a couple of hours.
5:42 a.m. PT: As the sun begins to rise and a member of our crew searches for a store to buy coffee, water and some sort of food, I start to hear rumors that there may be a bail hearing. Could the police file a criminal complaint at this time? They only have 72 hours from the time of the arrest. O.J. was taken into custody 11 a.m. on Sunday, so they still have time, but usually I am told the bail hearing and complaint come at a hearing together. Our legal analyst on the scene, Bob Massi, explains to me the ins and outs of the Nevada legal process; of course the “Cliff Notes” version.
At this time, I call my contact with the courts. As I hit send on my cell phone I cringe, hoping he is already awake at this time of the morning. Thankfully he answers and has obviously been awake. He confirms there will be a hearing and tells me a few details while I run to our live position in front of the jail.
Running with a cell phone to your ear may not be as precarious as scissors, but nonetheless, it’s not the easiest thing to do in a suit and tie and in the dark.
7:22 a.m. PT: A second phone call to my contact gives me more details. Judge Ann Zimmerman is expected to hear O.J.'s case about possible bail between 7:30 to 9:30 this morning and O.J. will not appear. Quickly our crews get across the street and into courtroom 8D. The rest of us wait at the live location just a couple hundred feet away.
8:19 a.m. PT: The hearing starts and moves quickly. As I stand at the live location my Blackberry buzzes with updates.
8:42 a.m. PT: We get the final news. The judge addresses the O.J. case and decides a hearing will be set for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. O.J. will appear either via video conference, or live and the judge notes she doesn't like video. Any possible bail might also be discussed, but there is also a possibility that a second hearing will be set for Thursday just to discuss bail. We'll wait and see.
9:54 a.m. PT: The District Court spokesman announces that a briefing on the O.J. case will now be held in a half hour or so. This is to clarify and explain what will take place over the course of the next few days.
Some more notes about O.J.'s situation: he is being kept in the Clark County Detention Center. We are told he is in a cell by himself and is being kept away from the general population because of his high profile and for his own safety. He only gets about 30 minutes a day outside of his cell to make phone calls, shower and to take care of any other allowed business inside the jail.
4 p.m. PT: After a day of developments, the night seemed to slow down for a bit. Our shift usually starts about 2 a.m. local time, so by the time we finish (about noon) we are ready for a nap. On Monday, that became a bit difficult because the court held a press conference explaining the process the O.J. case will follow. Then we got tipped off that two of the four remaining suspects had agreed to meet with investigators.
By Monday afternoon, my contact told me that a third arrest had been made. Clarence Stewart had come to meet with detectives and they had decided to arrest him, but a second unnamed man was playing a phone game. He was apparently trying to work a deal with investigators, but they were not biting and also not too happy about his change of mind. He is still not in custody and two others are also on the run. It is alleged O.J. and four others went into that room last Thursday night at the Palace-Station Casino, wielding guns and taking the memorabilia.
9 p.m. PT: We got the word that O.J. had some visitors. Our cameras caught up with O.J.'s sister and girlfriend as they came to the courthouse. They didn't stay long and they didn't answer any questions as they came and went.
Their arrival was about the same time our motor home came to the compound. What began over the weekend as one crew (four people) and a satellite truck, has now expanded to two satellite trucks, nearly 30 people and not enough space to work. The motor home is massive and gives us some working space. It's also a bit funny to be in downtown Vegas, sitting in a motor home, in front of the jail.
Tuesday, September 18
4 a.m. PT: We start to again hear rumors that O.J. will come to court. I have to decide if it is too early to start calling our contacts; I surely don't want to intrude, so there's a fine line. I decide that we'll wait a bit. I know he was awake Monday about 5:30, so that's when we'll make the call.
5:32 a.m. PT: Our contact’s awake, but admits he's a bit tired from all the long hours and needs breakfast to get things rolling a bit smoother. He explains that as far as he is concerned, O.J. will have no hearing on this day and the court really wouldn't make an exception.
6:45 a.m. PT: The rumor about O.J. in court is still very hot. Like our court contact, I am a bit surprised because the judge assigned to be the court spokeswoman here in Vegas was pretty adamant that we wouldn't see Simpson in court until Wednesday. So I called our contact once more for clarification. Our conversation is quick; he has come to court early to clarify the rumor and to make sure he isn't missing anything. I come up with this:
1. The probable cause hearing was held by Judge Zimmerman yesterday (Monday) afternoon. This sounds more serious than it is. She looked at the warrant, arrest report etc., and made sure it was all conducted within the law. This is almost always a formality.
2. The criminal complaint needs to be filed by 2 p.m. Wednesday or O.J. gets released, but investigators will likely file the complaint by 2 p.m. today so it will be in front of Judge Zimmerman for tomorrow morning (Wednesday's) hearing.
9 a.m. PT: We are told the criminal complaint will be filed by 2 p.m. today. At that time we will get more information about what the specific charges and accusations are against O.J. Simpson.
9:24 a.m. PT: Our police contact says that within the hour they will be walking an arrest warrant through for Michael McClinton — one of the suspects who had agreed to come in yesterday and then changed his mind. They say he is now considered on the run and the LVPD WILL be releasing photos and possibly video of Michael and the one other suspect on the run in the next hour or two.
They say more charges could be added to O.J. "But it is tough to get the full story and all the accounts when you can't get these guys in."
10:39 a.m. PT: The DA is strongly considering adding kidnapping and coercion charges against OJ Simpson. This is big news and more bad news for O.J. This info comes from our contact in this case and we are on the air for Martha's show (The Live Desk ) within minutes.
10:42 a.m. PT: Investigators confirm. They believe eventually OJ and five others will have charges filed against them. They are trying to round the last two up.
10:55 a.m. PT: The info is coming fast and furious again, it seems to do that with this case. Our court contact says that authorities are trying to keep the arrest warrant and the supporting affidavit under seal.
In Nevada they are allowed to do that. Bob Massi, our FOX News Legal Analyst on scene, says that's because it's likely the DA is going to indicte.
4:15 p.m. PT: Tuesday afternoon was as active as we expected. Our source all along told us that the DA here in Clark County would likely add kidnapping charges against O.J.. About three hours after we reported this possibility, the DA filed the criminal complaint which includes 10 felony counts.
Our contact says that the surveillance photos released this afternoon has resulted in one of the final two suspects calling an attorney and setting up a time on Wednesday morning to turn himself in. Apparently, the guy called the attorney crying because his photo is all over the news.
Also, investigators are meeting with the DA early tomorrow morning to get everything in order, then they'll head to the courthouse together for the hearing.
7:15 p.m. PT: Latest from our contacts …
1. One of the two remaining suspects expected to turn himself in this morning.
2. Police detectives and DA meeting early this morning to ensure they're ready for anything inside the courtroom. They are coming to court together.
3. Court contact says judge would have likely set bail at $78,000 for OJ … but now that kidnapping has been added, the bail amount COULD be several hundred thousand dollars.
Wednesday September 18
10:15 a.m. PT: Our court contact has just told me the case is likely being moved to top department nine with a NEW JUDGE! The contact says there now may be a deal between judges. Judge Zimmerman may be back in for this hearing and Judge Bonaventure for the preliminary hearing.
Our contact says several judges are interested in being involved in this case.
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Adam Housley is a reporter for FOX News based out of Los Angeles.
Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.