Michael McClinton testified that Simpson asked for guns and saw them during the Las Vegas hotel room confrontation
By Stacey Silberman
HOLLYWOOD,CA(RushPRNews)10/01/08 – Michael McClinton testified for the prosecution Friday and on defense cross Monday in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery trial, alleging that the NFL all star asked him and friend Walter Alexander to bring guns to the hotel room confrontation, which scared and intimidated sports memorabilia dealers he believed stole his â€œstuff.â€ And, McClinton told jurors he recorded a post-incident conversation with Simpson, which implies Simpson knew about the guns.
The Las Vegas trial, in Clark County Court, surrounding the infamous hotel heist led by defendant Simpson, 61, and allegedly aided and abetted by Clarence â€œC.J.â€ Stewart, 54, is in full swing after several witnesses have testified for the prosecution.
The defendants are charged with 11 felony counts and one misdemeanor count, that could potentially cost them life in prison with the chance of parole, if found guilty of some of the charges. Even a guilty verdict for robbery will mandate some prison time for the defendants.
Some of the charges include robbery, armed robbery, coercion, kidnapping and armed kidnapping.
Both Alexander and McClinton pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the case after making plea deals with the prosecution. However, their sentences will not be decided until the outcome of this trial. Also, two other men involved in the crime made plea deals with the state. Charles Ehrlich and Charles Cashmore testified for the prosecution in exchange for lighter sentences.
The alleged armed robbery took place on September 13, 2007, in room 1203 at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino.
Key testimony by McClinton indicated that O.J. requested a private sit down with Alexander and himself in Simpsonâ€™s hotel room at the Palms Hotel several hours before the event.
â€œHe (Simpson) wanted me to come along with him to retrieve his memorabilia with him as security,â€ McClinton testified. â€œHe wanted us both to come along with him.â€
According to McClinton, Simpson asked the men if they could bring some â€œheat.â€ Alexander volunteered that McClinton had a permit to carry a weapon in Nevada prompting Simpson to ask if he could see the permit. He then asked if McClinton had weapons in his possession at the time, but the witness said he didnâ€™t because heâ€™d just come from the gym.
According to several witnessesâ€™ testimony, the group of six large men entered the small hotel room, along with Thomas Riccio, who set-up the meeting. Simpson immediately confronted victims Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley with intimidation and yelling as he berated them for stealing his â€œstuff.â€
According to testimony, the dealers offered to hand back whatever Simpson wanted without the threat of weapons.
Soon afterwards McClinton began barking orders too. And thatâ€™s when it became an alleged armed robbery. That was how some of the witnesses described the scene.
However, McClinton described his part a little differently on the stand.
â€œWhen we finally approached the door Mr. Simpson asked me to show my weapon and to look menacing,â€ McClinton said.
â€œMy gun was drawn when I went through the threshold of that door,â€ he said calmly.
Then the Riccio recordings were played for jurors to hear along with McClintonâ€™s corroboration.
â€œYou mother (expletive) (are) lucky you ainâ€™t in L.A. or your ass would be laying on the floor,â€ McClinton barked during the short confrontation.
Most of the witnesses and victims did agree on one thing throughout their testimonies. And that is the fact that McClinton held the gun and waved it wildly in the face of Fromong during the worst part of the incident.
Although McClinton denies that he waved the gun during the incident.
He said that afterward Simpson had chided him for his â€œheavy-handednessâ€ with the gun. Some witnesses testified that Simpson told him to â€œPut the gun downâ€ when he realized things had gotten out of hand.
Following the hotel room heist the group of men cleaned up and headed to the Little Buddha restaurant for a pre-wedding-dinner party.
This is when McClinton used his own concealed analog recorder to capture comments that provide the most damning evidence against Simpson.
The fallen football hero is heard on tape bragging and laughing about what happened earlier that evening at Palace Station.
Simpson also asks about McClintonâ€™s gun, which he told police he was unaware before, during, and immediately after the incident.
During the conversation the men wonder if their actions were caught on hotel security cameras.
Simpson asks McClinton, â€œYou didnâ€™t pull the piece out in the hall?â€
McClinton replies, â€œNo, no, no, no, no, no hell no,â€ even though he testified to the contrary, saying the gun was actually out before he entered the room.
This is one of the inconsistencies jurors will have to sort out, especially since this testimony could put Simpson in prison for a very long time.
McClinton continues, â€œWhen they (look) at that footage they ainâ€™t gonna see nobody carrying no gun,â€ according to the tape recording made by McClinton. In response, Simpson sounded relieved.
â€œThere ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ on that video. â€¦ Theyâ€™re gonna get all the video, look at it before they decide what they gonna do. Ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ they can see, they gonna see us goinâ€™ in the place (and) then they gonna see (us) leaving with just the boxes.â€
He also talks about having to come up with a believable story to tell police. â€œIâ€™m going to be all over the TV,â€ Simpson says. â€œIâ€™m trying to figure out what story to tell â€˜em.â€
Simpson was very clear on one thing saying, â€œI just donâ€™t wanna be in no mother (expletive) lock-up,â€ he says.
Because McClintonâ€™s tape was analog and not digital, it was verified by FBI analysis, unlike Riccioâ€™s digital recordings, which were not.
When McClinton asks Simpson what heâ€™s going to do with the memorabilia they have in their possession, he tells him that he plans to return it.
Following the robbery Beardsley frantically called 911 to report the crime. Police came to investigate, but didnâ€™t immediately go after Simpson because of his high profile status.
Unfortunately, some police personnel were surreptitiously recorded making incriminating comments, which were picked up by Riccioâ€™s hidden recorder in room 1203.This happened while processing the crime scene.
Two men mocked Simpson, making comments about his 1995 acquittal, making it sound as though they pre-judged his guilt in this case. Fortunately, the conversation did not involve lead Detective Stephen â€œAndyâ€ Caldwell, but involved individuals with less control over the case.
Simpson was arrested a few days later on September 16, 2007, the same day that â€œIf I Did It; Confessions of a Killerâ€ was released by the Goldman family.
McClinton turned himself in to police on September 18, and signed a plea agreement on October 29. Since he was the person brandishing the gun, he faced a harsh prison sentence if convicted.
With the plea he only faces two felony counts for robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
The defense made sure to point out to the jury that he no longer faces any charges whatsoever for weapons possession.
The prosecution is expected to rest today.
Story first appeared at Hollywood Today