O.J. Simpson Ordered To Stand Trial In Alleged Memorabilia Heist

O.J. Simpson must face trial on kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges stemming from an alleged sports memorabilia heist, a justice of the peace ruled Wednesday.

Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure ruled after a preliminary hearing of the charges and arguments against the case by attorneys for Simpson and co-defendants Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles "Charlie" Ehrlich.

"This is what we expected," Simpson told The Associated Press before he left the courtroom. "If I have any disappointment it's that I wish a jury was here. As always, I rely on the jury system."

No charges in the 12-count complaint against the three men were dropped.

Kidnapping convictions could result in a life sentence with possibility of parole.

Armed robbery convictions would mandate some time in prison.

The case stemmed from a Sept. 13 confrontation in a casino hotel room where Simpson and a group of men allegedly stole items from two sports memorabilia dealers.

The defendants were ordered to arraignment on Nov. 28.

Bonaventure ruled hours after listening to 3½ days of testimony by witnesses.

During closing arguments of the hearing, a defense lawyer contended that the case was based on the accounts of "crackheads and groupies and pimps and purveyors of stolen merchandise and gun carriers and con artists and crooks."

"These guys are bad. The court can't ascribe any credibility to what came out of their mouths," said attorney John Moran Jr., who represents Ehrlich.

"Every witness up there was looking to sell testimony and make money off of this case," Moran said.

He described three other men who accepted plea deals to testify against Simpson as "rats," and urged the judge to say that "rats don't get a better deal."

Bonaventure turned to prosecutors and said, "You did not address the credibility issues."

Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Owens offered no defense of their character but said, "It's not like the state went out and found the witnesses. These are people aligned with O.J. Simpson. These are the people he surrounds himself with."

He said their credibility is supported by audio and video tapes and the fact they corroborated each other.

Moran argued that Ehrlich, the seeming bystander to the hotel room incident, should have his case dismissed.

"Standing around where a crime is committed does not rise to the level in Nevada of being a perpetrator," he said.

Simpson's lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, said Simpson clearly did not intend to steal anyone else's property and "the intent issue in this case is paramount."

He also argued there was "not a scintilla of evidence" to support a kidnapping charge.

He accused prosecutors of "overcharging" the case and said such charges as conspiracy, assault and coercion were merely a "piling on" of charges in the hope something will stick.

Moran noted that the two men who said they brought guns to the hotel room were given plea deals likely to win them probation while those who had no guns were facing possible trial.

Simpson, 60, has maintained that no guns were displayed during the confrontation, that he never asked anyone to bring guns and that he did not know anyone had guns.

He has said he intended only to retrieve items that had been stolen from him by a former agent, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Simpson and the other defendants did not testify in their own defense at the hearing.

The final prosecution witness, Alfred Beardsley had to be brought from a California jail where he is serving time for a probation violation in a domestic violence case.

Beardsley, one of the two dealers trying to sell Simpson memorabilia in the hotel room, has been described by other witnesses as "loony" and a Simpson groupie who idolizes him.

He kept shifting his eyes over in Simpson's direction as he testified
but Simpson did not return his gaze.

Beardsley, who testified that he appeared on many TV shows after
the incident, said he was the one who called 911 to say he had been
robbed.

Under cross-examination by one of Simpson's lawyers, he blamed
Simpson for the incident.

"Your client was foolish enough to let it happen," he said.

"He was a high-profile person and people were waiting for him to screw up. And he screwed up."


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