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Gaming Guru

Melissa Arseniuk

Gunman in O.J. Simpson raid returns to witness stand

30 September 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The O.J. Simpson robbery/kidnapping trial entered its third week Monday as the state's last witness returned to the stand to complete his testimony.

Michael McClinton is one of the two men who claims Simpson last year asked him to bring a gun to the Palace Station to provide back-up during a memorabilia recovery mission.

Simpson denies allegations that he asked McClinton and the other gunman, Walter Alexander, to bring weapons. The former NFL star has said he was unaware guns were going to be used in the raid and told investigators immediately after the event that no guns had been involved.

Simpson and his co-accused, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, face 12 robbery, weapons and kidnapping charges stemming from the altercation that took place in a Palace Station hotel room last year. Simpson's entourage on Sept. 13 confronted two memorabilia dealers, Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, who were selling items that Simpson claims had been stolen from him years ago.

The five others who accompanied Simpson and Stewart that day, as well as the middleman who arranged the hotel room meeting, Thomas Riccio, have since signed plea agreements with the prosecution. McClinton is one of them and began testifying against the accused on Friday.

McClinton is one of two men who used discreet audio recorders to secretly tape conversations related to the alleged robbery. The transcripts of the recordings have been hotly disputed by both sides of the defense.

Simpson's lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, began his dissection of the transcripts on Friday but picked up where he left off Monday morning.

Before he began questioning the witness about who said what and to whom, Grasso discussed the new set of transcripts his team had provided to the judge, jury and case attorneys.

They include some changes, as well as several additions in areas left blank in the Metro-produced transcripts.

The defense also attributed dialogue to members of Simpson's group that were left unattributed in the prosecution's version, and contested who said what in a few instances, as well.

"On page four ... the state attributed that statement to Alexander and we're suggesting ... that it was McClinton," he provided as an example.

"Nothing's been taken from the transcripts," Grasso said. He explained all changes and additions had been noted using bold or underlined text or parenthesis.

Grasso outlined a few of the changes his team has suggested and had McClinton confirm most of the additions the defense has proposed.

The attorney on Friday pointed out that despite the court's "junky sound system," several parts of Metro's transcripts are inaccurate, including key parts of Metro officials' conversations that the defense argues suggest bias.

Page 193 of the LVPD transcript quotes two investigators as they process evidence in the Palace Station hotel room. It reads:

Perkins: This is great. Yeah. Uh, John said, he's like, yeah. California can't get him _____ now we'll be _____ got him.


Grasso has suggested that crime scene analyst Michael Perkins is actually saying, "California can't get it (expletive) done, now we'll get it done."

Before Grasso asked McClinton about one particular part of the tape-recorded conversation that took place at the Little Buddha Cafe just hours after alleged robbery took place, he asked him if there was a difference between a pocket and a holster.

McClinton said there was. "A pocket is a pocket and a holster is definitely a holster," he said. Upon further questioning, he also told Grasso that he carried his gun in its holster on Sept. 13, 2007, and never in his pocket.

Grasso then played a portion of McClinton's recording where Simpson asks, "You didn't pull the piece out in the hall?" and McClinton replies, "No, no, no, no, no, no hell no," then states, "No, I kept that thing in my pocket 'til we got inside that room."

Grasso then asked him what "piece" Simpson was referring to on the tape.

"I cannot recall," McClinton said.

Later, however, District Attorney David Roger asked his witness if he was referring to his holster when he said "pocket" that day.

McClinton said he interchanged the words and said they are "one in the same."

Throughout his testimony, McClinton insisted that Simpson asked him to bring and use a gun during the raiding party, saying, "He wanted me to come with my weapon." Still, McClinton did not say what words Simpson used, exactly.

He acknowledged that he didn't tell police that Simpson asked him to bring the guns when they investigated him.

As McClinton vaguely told the court about the very specific request Simpson allegedly made, the Heisman Trophy winner remained silent, as he has throughout the trial, and he shifted his eyes downward shook his head dismissively.

McClinton told the court that he did not point his gun at anyone during the confrontation. Fromong and Riccio both testified that the gunman pointed the gun at them during what they claim was a hold-up.

"I never pointed that weapon at anybody," he said. "It was a .45 so you didn't have to point it at anybody."

After McClinton left the stand, the prosecution rested its case, leaving Simpson's lawyers just enough time to call three witnesses before court adjourned early, as scheduled, for Rosh Hashanah.

Metro Police sergeant Rod Hunt, who worked with Metro's robbery division last year, and the subsequent witness, Metro's Chris Tucker, told the court Simpson cooperated with investigators.

Hunt also mentioned that Simpson voluntarily gave investigators his cell phone number in case they needed to contact him.

The day finished with the return of Alfred Beardsley, who is one of the two men that said Simpson and the others robbed him last year.

Unlike Fromong, however, Beardsley has said he does not want Simpson or Stewart charged because of the run-in. He has called for the state to drop its charges.

When Beardsley first testified last week he was given a set of clothes to wear. When he returned Monday, however, he had not been provided a change of clothes and was forced to testify in his prison uniform.

Beardsley has been incarcerated in California since April following parole violations regarding an unrelated stalking conviction.

Beardsley's second round of testimony was short and limited.

Prosecutors voiced several objections as Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, repeatedly tried to ask the witness if Simpson or anyone else tried to influence his testimony.

The objections were sustained and Beardsley was prohibited from answering Galanter's questions related to his communication with the accused following the confrontation last year.

District Court Judge Jackie Glass sent the jury home just before 3 p.m. and explained that there will be no proceedings tomorrow, in observance of the Rosh Hashanah Jewish holiday. The trial will resume on Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Court officials have said that if proceedings move quickly, it is possible that closing arguments could be heard later this week.