O.J. wanted men with guns

, Last Updated: 7:36 PM ET

LAS VEGAS — O.J. Simpson wanted armed men with him when he confronted two sports memorabilia dealers, according to a co-defendant who has agreed to testify for the prosecution in the armed robbery case.

“O.J. said ‘Hey, just bring some firearms,’” Walter Alexander told police in a transcript of his tape-recorded statement obtained by The Associated Press.

Alexander told police after his arrest Sept. 15 that he and another man showed up with guns at the former football star’s request, then headed with him into a casino hotel room to retrieve collectibles that Simpson said belonged to him.

“He said ... ‘we won’t have to use ‘em, but ... just to look tough, you know, so that these people know that, you know, we’re here for business,’” Alexander said.

Simpson’s lawyers, Yale Galanter of Miami, and Gabriel Grasso of Las Vegas, did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

Simpson has denied guns were involved.

Alexander, 46, told police he carried a .22-calibre handgun in his waistband and Michael McClinton, who gave him that gun, pulled a larger pistol from a holster and displayed it in the room. Alexander said he did not know the calibre of the other gun.

Police have alleged that McClinton, who Alexander called “Spencer,” impersonated a law enforcement officer during the alleged robbery.

“Spencer went in kinda, you know, being Mr. Tough Guy,” Alexander said, adding that McClinton’s behaviour “made things a lot worse than they probably would’ve been.”

Alexander characterized Simpson as talkative and apparently surprised by McClinton’s aggressive actions, saying, “Calm down, dude, you know, I mean, calm down, put them guns down.” McClinton responded that he needed to make sure memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley weren’t armed.

“I mean, Juice had told him just to carry the gun, not to, you know, take it out, just to show it,” Alexander said, using Simpson’s nickname from his NFL days. “But now he brought the gun out and he was like, you know, ‘Up against the walls, up against the walls.’“

Alexander’s 45-page account, which is provided in court documents turned over by prosecutors to defence lawyers, raises the legal stakes for Simpson, who has told AP that guns were not involved in the Sept. 13 encounter.

“If it’s true, it hurts O.J. tremendously,” said Edward Miley, lawyer for co-defendant Charles Cashmore, who also has agreed to a plea deal.

“It puts him at the scene where he knew there were firearms,” Miley said of Simpson. “Under conspiracy law in Nevada, he’s on the hook, if they can prove it.”

Lawyers for McClinton and co-defendants Clarence (C.J.) Stewart and Charles Ehrlich did not immediately respond to messages left Wednesday. McClinton’s lawyer, Bill Terry, has said McClinton, 49, works in the security industry and had a valid concealed weapons permit.

Simpson, McClinton, Stewart and Ehrlich are scheduled for a preliminary hearing Nov. 8 in Las Vegas Justice Court on nine felonies and one gross misdemeanour charge, including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy. A kidnapping conviction carries the possibility of life in prison with parole.

Simpson, 60, of Miami, faces one additional felony charge of coercion stemming from allegations that he took Fromong’s cellphone.

Alexander’s lawyer, Robert Dennis Rentzer of Tarzana, Calif., said he believed Alexander “was truthful with police in everything he told them.” He declined additional comment about evidence pending Alexander’s plea Tuesday and has not said what Alexander will say on the witness stand.

In his statement, Alexander said he thought Simpson and Thomas Riccio, the man who arranged the meeting, waited until Alexander and McClinton arrived with the guns at the Palace Station hotel-casino before Simpson went into the room to confront Beardsley and Fromong.

“It’s like they didn’t wanna go to the meeting until me and Spence showed up with the heat,” he said.

Riccio has not been charged in the case.

“The guns were already drawn” when Simpson entered, Alexander said, adding that McClinton and Stewart frisked Beardsley and Fromong. “Spencer already came up with the gun and told everybody to get on that side of the room.”

At a restaurant afterward, Simpson told McClinton and Alexander that he knew the case would draw widespread attention. He advised them to say no guns were involved.

Alexander, a real estate salesman from Mesa, Ariz., and Simpson’s golfing buddy, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, a felony that could result in a sentence of one to six years in prison. Clark County District Attorney David Roger said Alexander could receive a suspended sentence and be eligible for probation. He also said prosecutors will send a letter on Alexander’s behalf to boards of realty in return for his co-operation. 18:56ET 17-10-07


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