Ailing witness returns to stand, resumes testifying
LAS VEGAS -- A key witness in the O.J. Simpson robbery trial was confronted with contradictions in his testimony Tuesday, including his claim that he didn't try to profit from the casino hotel room confrontation that led to charges against the former football star.Memorabilia dealer Bruce Fromong, who returned to the stand after becoming ill Monday, told defense attorney Gabriel Grasso he didn't have money on his mind while allegedly being robbed of sports collectibles by Simpson and a group of other men. "You were not trying to profit off this?" asked Grasso. "I was not trying to profit from it," said Fromong. The attorney played a tape recording of the 2007 incident in which Fromong said, "It's not [expletive] over. I'll have 'Inside Edition' down here for us tomorrow. I told them I want big money." Fromong acknowledged it was his voice and he conceded that he later advertised memorabilia on eBay with the statement, "The same ones stolen by O.J. in Las Vegas." On redirect questioning, district attorney David Roger asked to play more of the tape excerpt in which Fromong raged against Simpson. "Nobody puts a [expletive] gun in my face. I stood up for this [expletive] when he was in jail. I stood up for him when he was on trial. I set up his offshore accounts," he yelled. Testimony came on the first anniversary of Simpson's Las Vegas arrest. He and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart are charged with 12 counts of robbery, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and coercion. They have pleaded not guilty. Tempers in the case boiled as Roger referred to the confrontation as "the robbery." The defense, which claims Simpson was trying to recover stolen personal items, objected on grounds that was a legal conclusion. "He can call it alleged. I'm calling it a robbery," snapped Roger. The judge admonished Roger to say "at the time of the incident" or "at the time of the event." She told jurors to disregard his remark and then yelled at objecting lawyers: "Sit down!" "Listen, folks," she said. "The last thing you want me to do as the judge is to start losing my temper in front of the fine ladies and gentlemen of the jury and having to deal with all of you. You've been warned, folks." Fromong's contradictions continued. He acknowledged that he said previously, "I felt my life was being threatened." But moments later, under inquiry by Stewart's lawyer Robert Lucherini, Fromong said, "I was not scared." He insisted the memorabilia Simpson sought was not stolen but said he didn't know where some of it came from. "I believe those items belong to Mr. Simpson's kids. They should go back to him," he said, claiming that if he and Simpson had discussed it, they could have reached "an arrangement" by which he would trade the items for Simpson's signature on photos he could sell. Jurors Tuesday also saw surveillance video from the Palace Station casino hotel that showed the comings and goings of Simpson, Stewart and seven other men on the night of the alleged robbery. The tapes showed men walking about and eventually leaving with boxes.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press