LAS VEGAS – The jury in the O.J. Simpson trial has heard from several witnesses that a gun was displayed, orders were barked, and photos, ties and footballs were swept up off a bed and hauled away in an alleged armed robbery.
Whether Simpson knew guns were in the room, and whether he orchestrated a criminal scheme or merely the retrieval of stolen family photos, heirlooms and mementos are among the key questions the nine women and three men must decide.
On Thursday, the jury was due to hear cross-examination of Charles Cashmore, a bit player in the Simpson saga, who testified Wednesday that he was invited to help Simpson move some items, stood in the bathroom doorway during most of the six-minute confrontation, and carried two boxes and a pillow case full of things from the Palace Station casino hotel last year.
"I don't want to face life in prison for something I had no part of," said Cashmore, a journeyman laborer, bartender and disc jockey who knew co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart for about five years, but had never before met Simpson or the other men who came together in the hotel room.
Cashmore, 41, of Las Vegas, took a deal from prosecutors, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge — felony accessory to robbery — and testified that he was surprised when another former co-defendant, Michael "Spencer" McClinton, pulled a gun once everyone rushed into the cramped hotel room.
Walter "Goldie" Alexander, a former co-defendant, also had a gun, but it was only visible in his waistband "when his suit jacket pulled back," Cashmore said. "He didn't pull it out."
Cashmore, a native of Billings, Mont., originally faced the same charges as Simpson, Stewart, McClinton and former co-defendants Charles Ehrlich and Alexander. Cashmore could receive probation or up to five years in prison.
Alexander, 47, of Mesa, Ariz., pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to commit robbery, and could receive a suspended sentence or up to six years in prison.
Simpson and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon. They face prison if convicted.
Alexander testified that he and his friend, McClinton, met with Simpson, who told them he wanted to reclaim items stolen from him and needed some backup.
"He said, 'Do you think you can get some heat?'" Alexander said.
"My friend, Spencer, spoke up and said, 'No problem. I got plenty of heat. I'm licensed to carry a gun,'" Alexander said. McClinton is due to testify later.
Alexander described a chaotic scene inside the room with Simpson yelling at memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, McClinton waving the gun and telling everyone to freeze, and Stewart frisking everyone. At one point, he said Simpson told McClinton to put down the gun.
Later, he said, Simpson told him: "Just say there's no guns, and there won't be any trouble."
The court day began with Judge Jackie Glass barring prosecutors from reminding jurors of Simpson's 1995 Los Angeles acquittal in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. She refused to allow Goldman family attorney David Cook to testify, suggesting the evidence would be prejudicial.
"We are here to decide the case of 2007," she said.