Ailing witness returns to stand in Simpson trial

(AP Photo/Daniel Gluskoter, Pool)
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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A witness who fell ill during the first day of testimony in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery trial returned to the stand Tuesday morning and was cross-examined about four words important to the case: "put the gun down."

Memorabilia dealer Bruce Fromong testified that he heard someone say those words during a hotel-room confrontation over items Simpson says were stolen from him. Simpson says he didn't know that any of the men who entered the room with him were armed.

Fromong became lightheaded Monday during a pointed cross-examination in which he acknowledged that he never mentioned hearing the words "put the gun down" to police last September or at a preliminary hearing in November.

Paramedics examined Fromong, one of two memorabilia dealers Simpson is accused of robbing, but left without taking him to a hospital. The 54-year-old has had four heart attacks in the past year and is "medically fragile," his attorney says.

"It was a long day; I might not have had enough water," Fromong said as he returned to court Tuesday.

He apologized in court. "No problem. No problem," Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass responded.

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. Simpson says he went to the hotel room to retrieve items from Fromong and another dealer, Alfred Beardsley, that actually belonged to him.

On Tuesday, Simpson lawyer Gabriel Grasso asked Fromong how many meetings he had with prosecutors since November.

"Two, maybe three times maximum, I think," Fromong responded.

"Did you mention this fact to them, this 'Put the gun down?' Or was it the other way around, that they said to you it would be important if someone said 'Put the gun down?'" Grasso asked.

"I mentioned it," Fromong said.

Grasso pointed out that in three statements to police and in testimony at a preliminary hearing "you never said you heard someone saying 'Put the gun down,' 'Put down the gun,' something like that."

Fromong acknowledged that he couldn't say who said the statement but he insisted it was said loudly.

After Fromong, prosecutors were expected to call several other witnesses to set the stage for the jury to hear from Thomas Riccio, the colorful collectibles broker who arranged the hotel room meeting between Simpson and the two dealers.

Testimony had gotten under way Monday after jurors heard opening statements.

AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.

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