Defense Says O.J. Middleman May Testify Tuesday

By: AP
By: AP
(AP Photo/Daniel Gluskoter, Pool)

(AP Photo/Daniel Gluskoter, Pool)

LAS VEGAS - Lawyers for O.J. Simpson were expecting to take another crack at cross-examining an alleged robbery-kidnapping victim after his first time on the stand was cut short by illness.

On Tuesday, the court expected to call Bruce Fromong again and perhaps several other witnesses who could set the stage for the jury to hear from Thomas Riccio, the colorful collectibles broker who arranged a hotel room meeting between Simpson and memorabilia peddlers Fromong and Alfred Beardsley a year ago when the pair said they were robbed at gunpoint.

"Obviously the prosecution may change witness order a little bit, but I would expect Tom Riccio tomorrow or Wednesday," Simpson defense attorney Yale Galanter said.

Fromong, 54, became "lightheaded, dizzy and started to sweat," according to his lawyer, Louis Schneider, before Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass sent the jury out of the room and suspended his testimony.

Fromong has had four heart attacks in the past year, said Schneider, who described his client as "medically fragile." Paramedics examined Fromong in the courthouse hallway, but left without taking him to a hospital.

The break interrupted a pointed cross-examination by Simpson lawyer Gabriel Grasso, who bored in after Fromong said for the first time that he heard "somebody in the room saying, 'put the gun down.'"

Fromong said he didn't know who uttered the words, and acknowledged under questioning that he never mentioned it to police last September or at a preliminary hearing in November.

Whether Simpson knew weapons were in the room is a crucial point. Simpson maintains he didn't ask anyone to bring guns and didn't know anyone was armed when he went to retrieve items that he says were stolen from him.

Simpson, 61, and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, 54, have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon.

The day began with jurors, who had been told to forget Simpson's past, being reminded of a civil judgment against the former football star in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend.

"That's a different case and different facts but the effect of the judgment is something you may consider," prosecutor Chris Owens said.

Owens spoke of Fred Goldman, father of slaying victim Ronald Goldman, and said he would show that Simpson came to Nevada to confront Fromong and Beardsley because he thought that if he took back personal property in California, Goldman would seize and sell it.

An angry Galanter told jurors: "This case ... is not about what occurred in California. This case is not about Fred Goldman. It is about what happened in Las Vegas last year this time and whether crimes were committed."

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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.


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