Witness says Simpson called for guns

O.J. Simpson wanted help taking back his memorabilia, and he wanted someone to bring the "heat," one of the men who carried a gun during the holdup of two sports memorabilia dealers testified Wednesday.

"He just said, ‘Bring the guns so they know we mean business,’ " Walter Alexander recalled Simpson saying at his Palms hotel room hours before the incident at Palace Station.

On a day that included references to the Bible, accusations of pimping and a shouting match between a witness and lawyer that had courtroom marshals jumping to their feet, Alexander spent most of Wednesday recounting the events of Sept. 13, 2007, and the aftermath that led him to the witness stand.

Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart are on trial on armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges.

Alexander, a friend and golfing buddy of Simpson’s for a dozen years, said he was in Las Vegas for the wedding of Simpson’s best friend, Thomas Scotto, when Stewart told him Simpson needed help.

When Alexander and his friend, Michael McClinton, met Simpson at his Palms hotel room, the Hall of Fame running back told them of his plan to recover memorabilia that he believed had been stolen from him, Alexander testified.

"He said, ‘OK. Do you think you can get some heat?’ " said Alexander, who brought a Bible with him to the witness stand before District Judge Jackie Glass told him to turn it over to the court marshal.

Simpson explained they didn’t need to brandish the weapons but told them to make sure the guns were visible, he said.

Alexander said he was concerned about bringing weapons and asked Simpson about the police.

"He was like, ‘(expletive) the police. It’s my (expletive). I’m just going to get my own (expletive). What are they going to do? Take me to jail for taking my own (expletive)?’ " Alexander quoted Simpson as saying.

Later, the three men met at the Palace Station with Stewart, Charles Ehrlich, Charles Cashmore and Thomas Riccio, the auctioneer who set up the meeting with memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

While Fromong and Beardsley waited in Room 1203 for a memorabilia "buyer" to show up, the other men huddled outside the door. That’s when Simpson told McClinton to pull out his gun, Alexander testified.

"He wanted to look tough when we walked in the room," he said.

Alexander said he considered leaving but didn’t want to look like a coward. They entered the room, and McClinton aimed his gun at various people throughout the six-minute confrontation, he said.

At one point Simpson told McClinton to lower his gun, Alexander said.

When the incident was over, Alexander headed to the parking lot with a box of lithographs of former NFL player Joe Montana. The men rendezvoused at the Palms and loaded the property into Stewart’s Lincoln Navigator, he said.

"I knew at that very moment I was going to be in a world of trouble," he testified. "I had been involved in an armed robbery."

At a wedding-related dinner at Little Buddha that night, Alexander and McClinton tried to secretly record Simpson talking about the guns so they could protect themselves, Alexander said.

"We realized he was going to throw us under the bus because the only way he could defend himself was to blame it on us," he said.

Simpson responded by telling them to "just say there were no guns and it ain’t nothing," Alexander said.

Alexander was confronted by police two days later at McCarran International Airport. He worked out a deal with prosecutors and was the first participant to cooperate.

He was released from jail on his own recognizance and was promised the best deal, he said. He eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. Prosecutors will ask for probation, and Alexander can withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial if his sentence includes prison time.

In the weeks before he officially entered his plea in late October 2007, Alexander tried to back out of the deal because he was upset that Riccio was granted full immunity.

He sought help from Scotto.

"If I get some help, then I’ll do whatever I can, and I think I can do a lot," Alexander said on a voice mail.

Defense lawyers grilled Alexander about that call and whether he was offering to change his testimony for the right price.

Alexander denied looking for money. In a series of repetitive questions on the topic, Alexander consistently said he hoped to get money for a lawyer so he could fight the charges and avoid testifying against his friends.

"I would not be up here saying the things I’m saying that hurt Mr. Simpson. … I would not have to be badgered by this man," he said, referring to Simpson lawyer Yale Galanter in a hint of things to come.

Alexander said he took the plea agreement after praying and getting a "revelation" that he had done something wrong.

Minutes later, Galanter leaned over Alexander’s shoulder on the witness stand to show him a copy of the preliminary hearing transcript.

"Can you back away from me and let me read this because I don’t like the way you smell," Alexander said.

"No. I’m going to do it the same way Mr. Owens did it," Galanter responded, referring to prosecutor Christopher Owens.

"He’s yelling in my ear. He did this before and I don’t like it. Step back, please," Alexander shouted as court marshals approached the stand.

Galanter retreated before they intervened and opted to use the projector to show the transcript.

Glass scolded Galanter for the episode.

"If the witness is not OK with you doing it, then it’s not OK," she said. "Do not, do not do it again."

With the jury not present, Simpson’s lawyers later asked for a mistrial because Glass had rejected their attempts to probe what they called Alexander’s work as a pimp, which they intended to use to attack his credibility.

"He lied when he said he wasn’t a pimp, and we had the evidence to prove it," Gabriel Grasso said.

Grasso added that Alexander’s Bible "opened the door to ask how religious a pimp actually is."

Earlier in the day, Glass refused to allow Fred Goldman’s lawyer, David Cook, to testify about the $33.5 million civil judgment against Simpson, who was found liable in the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Simpson was acquitted of their slayings in 1994.

Glass said Cook’s testimony was marginally relevant and would be prejudicial to Simpson.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at bhaynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0281.

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