LAS VEGAS – A second co-defendant in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case said Monday that he will plead guilty to a reduced charge and testify against Simpson and four others in the alleged hotel room theft of sports collectibles from two memorabilia dealers.
Walter Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Arizona, told a judge he will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, a felony that could bring one and six years in prison.
Outside the courtroom, Alexander and his lawyers declined to say what testimony he will provide or whether Alexander carried a gun into the hotel room.
Earlier Monday, Charles Cashmore, 40, of Las Vegas, told the same judge that he would plead guilty to a lesser felony, accessory to robbery, and testify for the prosecution. Cashmore could get probation up to five years in prison.
The plea agreements up the ante in the prosecution of Simpson. Cashmore can testify that guns were involved in the Sept. 13 confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers at a Las Vegas casino hotel room, his lawyer said.
"He can establish who was in the room, what was said, who had guns, who didn't have guns, potentially who may have seen guns, who didn't see guns," attorney Edward Miley said outside court. "I think he wishes he would have never met O.J."
"What Mr. Alexander, I'm assuming, will be able to say is who told them to bring firearms, what planning there was, and what was said and done after the fact," Miley said.
"It's always a prosecutor's strategy to go after the little fish to get to the big fish." he said. "In this, it seems to be that O.J. Simpson is the big fish."
Simpson and his lawyers have denied guns were in the room at the Palace Station hotel-casino. His lawyers did not respond Monday to requests for comment.
Simpson was acquitted more than a decade ago of the 1994 killings of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, but he was later found liable in a wrongful-death trial.
A civil jury returned a $33.5 million (euro23.55 million) judgment against Simpson, but it remains largely unpaid. The Goldman family has waged a campaign to claim Simpson's assets since then.
Both Alexander and Cashmore waived their preliminary hearings. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure Jr., set both men's arraignments for Oct. 23.
Cashmore faces up to five years in prison.
"In District Court, he'll be pleading guilty to accessory to robbery," Clark County District Attorney David Roger told Bonaventure. "He's agreed to provide truthful testimony."
Cashmore was initially arraigned on nine felonies and a gross misdemeanor, charges that included kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy. A kidnapping conviction alone could have resulted in a sentence of life in prison with parole.
Simpson and the others, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, Michael McClinton, and Charles Ehrlich, are due in court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 8 and 9. Bonaventure will decide then whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial in state court.
If asked, Cashmore will testify if asked at the preliminary hearing that Alexander and McClinton were armed when they entered the room with Simpson, Miley said.
Simpson claims at least some of the items taken from collectors Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong belonged to him, and his lawyers have maintained that no guns were used. Simpson and the others are charged with kidnapping, armed robbery, assault, burglary and conspiracy.
Cashmore was introduced to Simpson and most of the others in the group for the first time minutes before the alleged robbery, Miley said.
"He didn't know anyone. He didn't know what was going on," Miley said. "He didn't have a gun."
Cashmore, a journeyman laborer, bartender and disc jockey, surrendered to authorities six days after the encounter, and after police released images from hotel security videotapes showing him carrying a box from the room at the hotel.
Cashmore did not look at everything in the box, but said some items included lithograph prints of football great Joe Montana, his lawyer said.
Cashmore should have immediately gone to the police and turned over the items he carried out of the room, Miley said. "He should have done something, but he didn't," Miley said.
In 1996, he plea bargained a felony theft charge to a misdemeanor and received probation in an embezzlement case in Utah.
Alexander's lawyer, Robert Dennis Rentzer, declined to say whether Alexander had a gun in the room, but expressed doubt Cashmore could say Alexander was armed.
McClinton's lawyer, Bill Terry, did not respond to requests for comment.