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FBI audio analyst testifies as Simpson trial resumes

9/18/2008

LAS VEGAS -- An FBI expert testified via videotape Wednesday
in O.J. Simpson's armed robbery trial that it's impossible to tell
whether an audio tape of the hotel room confrontation was altered,
but the judge said she still might let jurors hear the recording.

FBI forensics audio examiner Kenneth Marr said in prerecorded
testimony that the tiny digital recorder secretly used by
collectibles broker Thomas Riccio to record the alleged robbery
last year didn't have advanced features that would ensure the
security of the information on it.

But Marr did authenticate another tape that Riccio said he
obtained with a separate analog recorder at a pool at the Palms
hotel and casino. That recording was made several hours before the
conflict between the former football star and two sports
memorabilia dealers at the Palace Station hotel.

Prosecutors say the analog tape includes the voices of Simpson
and several other men planning to confront the memorabilia
peddlers, Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

Marr's appearance was videotaped Aug. 25 because he was
scheduled to be out of the country. Asked by Clark County District
Judge Jackie Glass if he could say whether the digital recording
contained edits or manipulations, Marr replied: "I could not
determine if those files had been altered or not."

A key question is whether any of the tapes contain mention of
guns being used. Both Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J."
Stewart say they saw no guns.

Stewart's defense lawyer, Brent Bryson, lost a bid to have both
recordings disqualified as evidence because of problems including
who had custody of them. The digital recorder was kept from police
for eight days while Riccio sold the tape to an Internet gossip
site.

"The device itself is inherently untrustworthy," Bryson said.

Glass said she would allow the poolside recording and let the
recording from the hotel room be used if the voices on the tape
could be individually verified.

Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, said he wants jurors to hear
all 10 hours of Riccio's recordings but has questions about a
written transcript that will be given to jurors.

Simpson and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges
including armed robbery, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon
and coercion. A kidnapping conviction could result in a sentence of
life in prison with the possibility of parole. An armed robbery
conviction could mean mandatory prison time.

Simpson maintains that he was trying to retrieve personal items
that had been stolen from him.

The former NFL star escaped prison time in the 1990s after his
acquittal in Los Angeles on charges of murdering ex-wife Nicole
Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. A civil jury later found
him liable for $33.5 million in damages.

Riccio, who was waiting Wednesday to testify, has said that
prosecutors told him to expect to be on the stand for as long as a
day and a half.

"I hope they don't just have to go by what I say," he told The
Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday. "All they have
to do is listen to my tapes."