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 (AP) -- The man who set up O.J. Simpson's hotel room meeting that led to robbery charges a year ago testified Friday on the sequence of events that day after jurors made an unannounced field trip to the scene of the confrontation. "O.J. didn't want any other stuff," Thomas Riccio, a collectibles broker, told jurors as testimony resumed after the jury visit. "He said, 'I only want my stuff.'"

Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass had ordered the jury trip late Thursday after deciding that a plywood and pressboard mock-up of the 322-square-foot hotel room 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.

Jurors then returned to the courtroom to hear more testimony from Riccio.

Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart are accused of armed robbery, kidnapping and conspiracy for their role in the September 2007 confrontation with memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley. The former football star has said he was only trying to get back items that were rightfully his.

In testimony Friday, Riccio gave his account of the incident, saying Simpson "scolded" the two dealers for having things he said had been stolen from him. "Stuff that's not mine, we'll give back," he quoted Simpson as saying.

Fromong and Beardsley started apologizing and appeared to be willing to give Simpson the items, Riccio said.

Everything changed, he said, after a gun was drawn. Some of the five men with Simpson began putting items in pillow cases and boxes and carrying them out.

Participant Michael McClinton, Riccio said, "was right next to me, waving the gun around," adding that he was thinking to himself, "This is overkill ... big time overkill. They didn't have to do this."

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

The jury trip to the hotel was announced to the public and media at the courthouse only after it occurred. It was arranged late Thursday night, court information officer Michael Sommermeyer said. Simpson did not attend, District Attorney David Roger said.

The trip was "very low key and well-coordinated," said Lori Nelson, spokeswoman for Palace Station owner Station Casinos Inc.

Under the secret agreement approved by the court, a reporter and photographer from the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper and a videographer from cable network TruTV were the only members of the media to accompany the 12 jurors, six alternates, prosecutors, defense lawyers and court officials.

Jurors entered the cramped hotel room in pairs, Review-Journal reporter Brian Haynes said. One alternate juror reached her hand atop an armoire where Riccio said he hid an audio recorder during the confrontation, Haynes said.

Dave Tomlin, associate general counsel of The Associated Press, said the news service objected to the way the hotel room visit was handled.

"This is not the way these things are done. Everyone involved knew better," Tomlin said.

Tomlin noted that the AP has been involved in all previous pool arrangements with other news outlets for the Simpson trial and that decisions on all but this one were discussed among various media representatives and court officials.


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