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Thursday, October 25, 2007

New charges filed in Simpson case

LAS VEGAS—New charges of felony coercion were filed Wednesday against O.J. Simpson and three co-defendants in the alleged armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers.
Prosecutors increased to 12 the number of charges against Simpson, Clarence Stewart, Michael McClinton and Charles Ehrlich.

Conviction on felony coercion carries a sentence of up to six years in prison.

The four men didn't have to appear before the judge. They were represented by their lawyers.

The revised complaint drops charges against Walter Alexander and Charles Cashmore, who pleaded guilty to reduced charges and are due to testify against the others at a preliminary hearing beginning Nov. 8.

Alexander, Simpson's golfing buddy, and Cashmore, at times a day laborer, disc jockey and bartender, have agreed to testify against the aging football star and the other men who went to a Las Vegas casino hotel room to retrieve items that Simpson said belonged to him.

Simpson, Stewart, McClinton and Ehrlich are to appear for the preliminary hearing on felonies—including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and coercion—and one gross misdemeanor, conspiracy to commit a crime.

A kidnapping conviction alone could result in a sentence of life in prison with parole.

The revised complaint alleges Simpson and Stewart conspired to persuade others to tell authorities that no guns were used in the Sept. 13 confrontation
with memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley at a room at the Palace Station casino hotel.
A spokesman for Clark County District Attorney David Roger declined to comment Tuesday on the complaint, which outlines two theories of kidnapping: one in which Simpson, Stewart, McClinton and Ehrlich are accused of using trickery to lure Fromong and Beardsley to a hotel room for an armed robbery, and one in which they brought and displayed guns to prevent the men from leaving.

Simpson, 60, of Miami, has said no guns were brought to the room and he did not tell anyone to bring guns.

His lawyers, Yale Galanter and Gabriel Grasso, criticized the district attorney for making deals with co-defendants to testify against Simpson. Grasso said there had been no discussions with Roger on any plea deal for Simpson.

"In a frenzy to accept the state's sweetheart deals, these two guys who pleaded guilty today are pleading guilty to crimes they didn't commit," Grasso said Tuesday. "No robbery or any other crime ever took place."

Cashmore and Alexander are expected to be key witnesses for the prosecution at the preliminary hearing, when Bonaventure will decide whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Cashmore, 40, of Las Vegas, can testify that Alexander and McClinton brought guns to the confrontation, said his lawyer, Edward Miley.

Miley characterized Cashmore as a bit player and Simpson as the "big fish" in a botched robbery.

"I think he's anxious to get his story out there," Miley said of his client outside the courthouse.

Cashmore said he was relieved, but declined further comment.

Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., told police following his arrest Sept. 15 that Simpson wanted armed men with him when he confronted Fromong and Beardsley to retrieve items that Simpson said belonged to him.

"I'm at peace with what I've done today and what I'm going to do," Alexander said Tuesday as he clutched a Bible outside court. "I'm not here to help or hurt O.J. Simpson. I'm only here to tell the truth."

Roger said Cashmore could get probation or up to one to five years in prison at sentencing, which will come after an April 15 status check. The district attorney said he would seek a suspended sentence for Alexander, which could get him probation instead of one to six years in prison.

Galanter said Simpson "is not guilty and we continue to say he is not guilty of any crime." He said he looked forward to cross-examining Alexander and Cashmore.

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1 Comments:

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