One of Simpson's victims undermines the prosecution's case
LAS VEGAS -- One of the alleged victims in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery and kidnapping trial testified Thursday that he didn't want to be on the witness stand as he provided key evidence undermining the prosecution case.
Memorabilia peddler and convicted felon Alfred Beardsley testified that he and Simpson were "set up" by Thomas Riccio, the collectibles broker who arranged their meeting in a casino hotel room, and that "chunks" of dialogue were missing from secret recordings Riccio made of the confrontation.
"I do not want to be here," Beardsley said. "I've made that clear for the past year."
Clark County District Attorney David Roger later told reporters he plans to rest his case Friday after the testimony of central witness Michael McClinton, who has said he brought guns at Simpson's request and wielded one during the confrontation.
Simpson's lawyers said their case would begin Monday. They have not said whether Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart will testify, but with testimony from witnesses for Simpson expected to wrap up quickly, the case could go to the jury by the end of next week.
Under cross-examination Thursday by Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter, Beardsley called Riccio's recordings a "work of art" and suggested that Riccio had time to edit them before selling them to a celebrity Web site and later turning them over to police.
"He took the recording of the so-called incident or the crime and withheld it from the police -- took it back to Los Angeles for a period of time," Beardsley said.
After leading Beardsley through a description of the confrontation, Roger played a 911 tape in which Beardsley demands that police arrive immediately at the Palace Station hotel and casino to find and arrest Simpson.
"We were just robbed at gunpoint by O.J. Simpson and a bunch of other men!" Beardsley exclaims. "And I want 'em arrested!"
After an objection from Roger, Judge Jackie Glass stopped Galanter from asking Beardsley whether he wanted charges dropped. She also stopped Galanter from asking whether Beardsley believed a crime had been committed against him.
Beardsley, 46, of Burbank, Calif., is serving time on a parole violation after being convicted of stalking a California woman. He has been held since April on allegations that he threatened Riccio.
Glass struggled most of the day to keep jurors from being reminded of Simpson's infamous Los Angeles murder case, ruling that a witness could not mention the former football star's troubled past.
Mike Gilbert, a memorabilia dealer who was once Simpson's agent, was called by the prosecution in hopes of establishing that Simpson held a grudge against Gilbert over personal possessions taken from his Los Angeles home after he was acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Prosecutors wanted to show that Simpson gave the items to Gilbert to hide for him after a $33.5 million wrongful death civil court judgment was entered against him.
Glass ruled after impassioned arguments from both sides that Gilbert could talk about his past relationship with Simpson and that Simpson gave him some property.
"We're not talking about the California case," she said.
Gilbert testified that he and Simpson were once very close friends. The two men exchanged tepid smiles.
Lawyers for Stewart continued to argue that the evidence being presented had nothing to do with Stewart. They called for his case to be severed from Simpson's, but the judge again denied the motion.
Simpson and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon. They face up to life with possibility of parole if convicted of kidnapping, the most serious charge.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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