O.J. Jury Taken On Unannounced Trip To Vegas Hotel

By: AP
By: AP
(AP Photo/Ethan Miller, Pool)

(AP Photo/Ethan Miller, Pool)

LAS VEGAS - Testimony resumed Friday in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery and kidnapping trial after jurors made an unannounced field trip to the scene of the alleged crime at a casino hotel. Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass ordered the jury visit late Thursday after deciding that a plywood and pressboard mock-up of the 322-square foot hotel room built in the courthouse basement wasn't suitable, court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer said.

"The judge looked at the mock-up of the room and didn't like it," he said.

District Attorney David Roger said Simpson did not make the trip, but his lawyers did.

The start of trial was postponed for about 90 minutes while jurors traveled to and from the casino-hotel by bus, escorted by police motorcycle officers.

The trip, which was announced to the public and media at the courthouse only after it occurred, was arranged late Thursday night after the Palace Station granted permission for the visit, court information officer Michael Sommermeyer said.

Jurors then returned to the courtroom to hear more testimony from collectibles broker Thomas Riccio, who said he set up the hotel room meeting.

Jurors were trying to decipher and weigh the importance of hours of audio recordings Riccio made involving the confrontation between Simpson, five associates and sports memorabilia peddlers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.

Riccio testified he hid a digital recorder atop an armoire, out of sight of police investigators and crime scene analysts who combed the room for evidence after the alleged armed robbery Sept. 13, 2007.

Two FBI forensic audio experts previously said they couldn't say whether the recordings had been edited or tampered with.

Jurors have been told to disregard Simpson's 1995 acquittal in the murder of his ex-wife and her friend, but references to the slayings have been made throughout the trial.

Earlier, jurors heard the lead police detective in the case acknowledge that investigators paid extraordinary attention after Simpson was identified as a suspect, and kept him under surveillance for three days before his arrest.

Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart have pleaded not guilty to charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy, in the confrontation with sports memorabilia peddlers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.

Simpson and Stewart are not accused of wielding guns themselves. Two former co-defendants, Michael McClinton and Walter Alexander, have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and testified that they brought guns to the room.

Prosecutors are trying to use Riccio's recordings to bolster the testimony of about 25 witnesses, including McClinton, Alexander and two other men who took plea deals and agreed to testify against Simpson and Stewart.

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AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch contributed to this report.


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