O.J. Simpson And 2 Co-Defendants To Be Arraigned On Kidnapping and Armed Robbery Charges

O.J. Simpson and two co-defendants were due in court Wednesday to enter pleas and have a trial date set on charges alleging they kidnapped and robbed two sports memorabilia dealers.

Simpson, Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles "Charlie" Ehrlich were expected to plead not guilty to 12 charges.

Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, said his client's arraignment should be brief, but he added: "There's nothing in this case that has been standard."

A 3½-day preliminary hearing offered a nationally televised glimpse of what could come at trial - with sometimes stunning testimony from witnesses including the two men who say they were robbed at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room and three former co-defendants who accompanied Simpson but took plea deals in return for their testimony.

Simpson, Stewart and Ehrlich each face kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, coercion and conspiracy charges. A kidnapping conviction could bring a life sentence with the possibility of parole. An armed robbery conviction carries mandatory prison time.

Defense attorneys lost a bid during an earlier hearing to get any charges dismissed, despite claims they were based on accounts by "crackheads and groupies and pimps and purveyors of stolen merchandise and gun carriers and con artists and crooks."

Prosecutor Chris Owens responded that it was Simpson who surrounded himself with the men who testified.

The defense lawyers may challenge an amended complaint filed Monday listing Stewart and Ehrlich as possible witnesses, but not Simpson. Lawyers Robert Lucherini for Stewart, and John Moran Jr. for Ehrlich did not respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday.

A spokesman for Clark County District Attorney David Roger said co-defendants are routinely listed as possible witnesses in criminal cases and that Simpson's name would be added to the list.

"It was a clerical oversight," spokesman Dan Kulin said.

The new document makes no changes in the charges against the three men, but drops Michael McClinton as a defendant. McClinton, who testified that he brought guns to the Sept. 13 confrontation with sports collectibles dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, is on the list of 78 potential trial witnesses.

No new testimony was expected Wednesday, although defense lawyers have hinted at pretrial maneuvers that could affect the case. Lucherini has said he might move to separate his client's case from Simpson's.

Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass must juggle schedules for two prosecutors, seven defense lawyers and herself in picking a trial date.

Galanter said he will seek a date "sometime next year," but declined to be more specific.

Neither Stewart, 53, a Simpson friend and golfing buddy from North Las Vegas, nor Ehrlich, 53, a friend from Miami, are accused of wielding weapons during the alleged heist.

Simpson and his lawyers contend that he never asked anyone to bring guns to the hotel room at the Palace Station casino and he did not know anyone had guns.

McClinton and Walter Alexander, two former Simpson buddies who say they had guns, pleaded guilty to lesser offenses and testified in return for a chance at probation.

Simpson, 60, of Miami, has maintained that he intended only to retrieve items that had been stolen from him by a former agent, including photographs, football awards and the suit he wore the day he was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Prosecutors allege the heist netted tens of thousands of dollars of sports collectibles that bore no connection to Simpson.


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