LAS VEGAS – A co-defendant in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case told a judge Monday he would plead guilty to a felony and testify against Simpson and four others in the alleged hotel room theft of sports collectibles from two memorabilia dealers.
The plea agreement with Charles Cashmore, 40, of Las Vegas, ups 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," Cashmore's lawyer Edward Miley said outside court. "I think he wishes he would have never met O.J."
Simpson and his lawyers have denied guns were in the room. His lawyers did not respond Monday to requests for comment.
Cashmore waived his preliminary hearing. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure Jr., set arraignment for Oct. 23. He and the prosecution did not agree on a possible sentence before Monday's hearing, Miley said. He 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."
Outside court, Cashmore said he thought he'd done the right thing, but declined additional comment.
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, Walter Alexander, 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 Palace Station hotel-casino.
Cashmore didn't 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. Rentzer said he was scheduled to meet later Monday with Roger, the district attorney.
McClinton's lawyer, Bill Terry, did not respond to requests for comment.