LAS VEGAS – The start of the O.J. Simpson armed robbery and kidnapping trial was postponed Friday while the jury made an unannounced visit to the scene of the alleged crime at a casino hotel.
Judge Jackie Glass selected a reporter to accompany the 12 jurors, six alternates, prosecutors and court officers on the morning visit to the Palace Station hotel, Clark County District Attorney David Roger said. Simpson did not make the trip, but his lawyers did, Roger said.
The trip, which was announced to the public and media at the courthouse only after it occurred, was arranged late Thursday night after the Palace Station granted permission for the visit, court information officer Michael Sommermeyer said.
Testimony in the case had been scheduled to resume Friday, including more examination of collectibles broker Thomas Riccio. Riccio made hours of secret recordings of the confrontation between Simpson, five associates and two memorabilia peddlers at a Palace Station hotel room.
Riccio said the plan to recover a cache of the former football star's personal property worked well, until a gun was displayed.
"Everything was perfect until the gun came out," said Riccio, who hid a digital recorder atop an armoire, out of sight of police investigators and crime scene analysts who combed the room for evidence after the alleged armed robbery Sept. 13, 2007.
Two FBI forensic audio experts have testified they couldn't say whether recordings made in the hotel room had been edited or tampered with.
Jurors have been told to disregard Simpson's 1995 acquittal in the murder of his ex-wife and her friend, but references to the slayings have been made throughout the trial.
Earlier, jurors heard the lead police detective in the case acknowledge that investigators paid extraordinary attention after Simpson was identified as a suspect, and kept him under surveillance for three days before his arrest.
Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart have pleaded not guilty to charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy, in the confrontation with sports memorabilia peddlers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.
Simpson and Stewart are not accused of wielding guns themselves. Two former co-defendants, Michael McClinton and Walter Alexander, have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and testified that they brought guns to the room.
Prosecutors are trying to use Riccio's recordings to bolster the testimony of about 25 witnesses, including McClinton, Alexander and two other men who took plea deals and agreed to testify against Simpson and Stewart.