LAS VEGAS – Kidnapping and robbery charges against O.J. Simpson should be dropped, his lawyer argued Wednesday at the close of a preliminary hearing to determine whether he should stand trial in an alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia dealers.
The lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, told a Las Vegas justice of the peace it was unclear if prosecutors considered the act of luring the two dealers to a hotel room the alleged act of kidnapping — or whether the charge was based on a confrontation that followed.
"This is clearly overcharging," he said.
Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure was to decide at the end of the hearing whether the former football star, Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles "Charlie" Ehrlich should go to trial on 12 charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery. A conviction on the kidnapping count could result in a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. An armed robbery conviction could mean mandatory prison time.
Simpson, 60, has maintained that no guns were displayed during the confrontation, that he never asked anyone to bring guns and that he did not know anyone had guns. He has said he intended only to retrieve items that had been 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.
Before closing arguments, Simpson stood up and said he would not present evidence in his defense.
Earlier, sports memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, 45, testified that he tried to make clear to an "irritated" Simpson during the Sept. 13 confrontation that he had not stolen items from him.
When the men came in the room, "somebody yelled out, 'Police,"' Beardsley testified. "I was ordered to stand up. I was searched for weapons."
Beardsley testified that he did not steal any of the items and that he told Simpson the memorabilia came from a former partner of dealer Bruce Fromong. Simpson "felt violated and gave me a lecture," Beardsley said.
Beardsley said he was ordered to pack up the memorabilia, which had been laid out on a bed, and that the group left. He then called 911.
Michael "Spencer" McClinton testified Tuesday that Simpson asked him to bring guns and told him to use them to intimidate Beardsley and Fromong.
Simpson's golfing buddy, Walter "Goldie" Alexander, testified Tuesday that Simpson instructed McClinton to draw his weapon before the group entered the room at the Palace Station hotel-casino.
McClinton, Alexander and Charles Cashmore struck deals with prosecutors and agreed to testified against Simpson.