Nation/World

Simpson’s robbery trial features secret tapes

Witness testifies that gun was used

LAS VEGAS – When O.J. Simpson entered the cramped hotel room last year where footballs, plaques and photos were arranged on a bed, memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley uttered two words: “Oh, no.”

In the next six minutes – which secretly were taped and were played to jurors Friday – Simpson and five associates robbed Beardsley and a fellow collectibles dealer at gunpoint, prosecutors contend.

“Think you can steal my (stuff) and sell it,” Simpson yells at the dealers, according to the tape.

A Simpson cohort identified as Michael McClinton shouts at them: “Get the (expletive) against the wall … walk your (behind) over there … stand the (expletive) up before it gets ugly in here.”

Simpson – who faces a dozen charges including kidnapping and armed robbery – maintains that he was trying to get back stolen personal mementos on Sept., 13, 2007, and that he never saw a gun.

On the somewhat muddled recording, guns aren’t mentioned until Simpson and his cohorts leave the room – with boxes and pillowcases stuffed with collectibles. “We were just robbed at gunpoint by O.J. Simpson,” Beardsley says, according to the tape.

Collectibles dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged the meeting at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino, spent a second day on the witness stand on Friday.

He testified that he surreptitiously recorded the alleged robbery and several other conversations with Simpson in the days surrounding the incident.

Riccio said he was surprised Simpson and his associates retrieved the memorabilia at gunpoint.

“This is overkill,” Riccio testified. “Big time overkill. They didn’t need to do it this way. … They certainly didn’t need to bring guns.”

Shortly after Simpson left the room, he called Riccio from a cell phone and was told the police were investigating. Riccio said Simpson seemed “depressed” when he learned the dealers were alleging a gun was involved and insisted on speaking to the lead detective.

In the two days before Simpson was arrested, he repeatedly told Riccio that no gun was present.

“I don’t know why they are talking about a gun. Ain’t nobody had a gun,” Simpson said in one voice mail message played for jurors.

Riccio said he told Simpson he was wrong.

“There was a gun a few inches from my face, and I saw it. I wasn’t going to lie about it,” he testified.

In one recorded phone conversation between Simpson and Riccio, which was played for jurors, Riccio suggested that Simpson “probably” didn’t see the gun wielded by an associate.

Simpson said he barely knew some of the men who accompanied them and only asked them because he needed help carrying the memorabilia, according to the recording.



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