LAS VEGAS – Two of O.J. Simpson's former co-defendants who've told police that the ex-football star wanted guns brought along for a confrontation with two sports collectibles dealers are due to testify when a preliminary hearing resumes Tuesday.
Michael McClinton, who has said he brought two handguns, and Walter Alexander, a golfing buddy who told police he carried one of the weapons, were among witnesses waiting to testify Friday, when the hearing was suspended after two days.
Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure will decide after the hearing whether there is enough evidence for Simpson and two other men to stand trial.
Simpson, wearing dark glasses and a dark suit with a white shirt and white handkerchief in the breast pocket, arrived about 10 minutes before the hearing was scheduled to begin. As he entered the courthouse flanked by his legal team, he waved twice to spectators and looked up at a helicopter hovering noisily overhead.
Simpson's arrival was recorded by only two news photographers and three camera operators, down from the dozens that greeted him last week. Also missing were the crowds of costumed curiosities and T-shirt vendors who swarmed around the courthouse when the hearing, originally scheduled to last two days, began Thursday.
Tuesday's session began nearly a half hour late when one of the attorneys got to court late.
Alexander "will at least confirm everything he told police," his lawyer, Robert Dennis Rentzer, said Monday, "and he will provide additional information over and beyond what he told police, when he was under considerable stress because he was under arrest."
"If Walter saw McClinton brandishing a gun in plain view, based on my understanding of the facts, the only way O.J. could not have seen a gun is if he kept his eyes closed during the incident," Rentzer said.
Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., was taken into custody two days after the alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley at a Las Vegas hotel-casino.
Beardsley, 45, of Burbank, Calif., has been transferred to a Las Vegas jail so he can testify. He had been in custody in California on a parole violation.
Alexander originally was charged with Simpson and four other men with multiple felonies, including kidnapping and armed robbery.
Alexander, McClinton and another man have since taken plea deals, leaving Simpson, 60, of Miami, and Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles Ehrlich, both 53, facing face 12 criminal charges. 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.
Alexander pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to conspiracy to commit robbery, a felony, in a plea deal that could get him up to six years in prison. District Attorney David Roger has said prosecutors will seek a suspended sentence, which could get Alexander probation.
McClinton, 49, of Las Vegas, also took a plea deal and was scheduled to plead guilty Tuesday before Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass to robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, felonies that combined could get him probation or up to 11 years in prison.
McClinton, whose lawyer said he worked in the security industry, surrendered two guns and his concealed weapons permit to police. Lawyer William Terry has said McClinton would be able to say Simpson asked him to bring guns when they went to the hotel room at the Palace Station casino.
Police say McClinton wielded a gun and acted like a police officer after the men stormed into the room with Simpson on Sept. 13.
Simpson defense lawyer Gabriel Grasso in Las Vegas declined comment Monday about the case.
Simpson has maintained that no guns were displayed, 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 in 1995 in the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Authorities say memorabilia taken included football game balls signed by Simpson, Joe Montana lithographs, baseballs autographed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider, photos of Simpson with the Heisman Trophy, and framed awards and plaques, together valued at as much as $100,000.
Whether Simpson saw a weapon was a key question following testimony from Fromong, collectibles broker Tom Riccio and Cashmore, another former co-defendant who took a plea deal in the case.
Cashmore, 40, a union laborer, testified that he saw two men with guns during the confrontation, but that he heard Simpson say several times that he never saw a gun. Cashmore also said he heard Simpson say he didn't want to keep any memorabilia that wasn't his.
Cashmore was due before Glass on Tuesday to again plead guilty to felony accessory to robbery, which could get him probation or up to five years in prison. His lawyer, Edward Miley, said Monday that a paperwork problem negated Cashmore's first plea.