LAS VEGAS – O.J. Simpson and several other men, including two who had guns, broke into a hotel room and stole hundreds of pieces of memorabilia, a sports dealer testified Thursday at the start of the hearing that will determine whether the former football star will have to go through another high-profile trial.
Bruce Fromong said he brought the sports memorabilia, including items signed by Simpson, to a Las Vegas hotel room Sept. 13 so that they could be examined by a potential buyer.
Instead, a group of men rushed into the room, and Simpson insisted he was recovering his stolen items, including footballs and plaques. One man waved a gun in the dealer’s face and another had a weapon in his belt or his waistband, Fromong testified.
“When he came in,” Fromong said of Simpson, “he kind of stopped, he looked at me, and I looked at him. There was a lot of hollering.”
Simpson yelled at Alfred Beardsley, another sports dealer, Fromong said. “I thought you were a good guy, you stole from me,” Fromong said, quoting Simpson.
The sports dealer was the first of eight witnesses expected to testify before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joseph M. Bonaventure, who will determine whether Simpson and his co-defendants will stand trial on up to 12 charges, including 11 felonies.
The hearing is expected to last at least two days, prosecutor David Rogers told the court, but the process was going slowly as the defense vigorously questioned Fromong, who completed his testimony after lunch.
The charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping, stem from the Sept. 13 incident at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino. If convicted, Simpson, 60, could spend the rest of his life in prison.