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LAS VEGAS - One of the men who accompanied O.J. Simpson to a hotel-room confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers testified Tuesday that the former football star wanted them to bring "heat" to show they meant business.
Simpson's golfing buddy, Walter Alexander, also told the court that Simpson instructed Charles "Spencer" McClinton to draw his weapon before the group entered the room.
"It changed the whole plan," said Alexander, who accepted a plea deal to testify against Simpson. "At first the plan was we were to just show the guns. But right before we went into the room he told Spencer to put the gun in his hand."
Alexander said he kept the weapon he was carrying tucked into the waistband of his suit, but that as soon as he saw McClinton waving his weapon around and shouting orders at the memorabilia dealers he realized he was taking part in an armed robbery.
Simpson, 60, has maintained in interviews and through his lawyers that he never saw any guns or asked anyone to bring them to the hotel room. The testimony Tuesday was part of a preliminary hearing in the case. Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure will decide after the hearing whether there is enough evidence for Simpson and two other men to stand trial.
He also has said he intended only to retrieve items that had he said were stolen from him by a former agent, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Simpson and two other men face 12 criminal charges including armed robbery, kidnapping with a weapon and conspiracy. A kidnapping conviction could result in a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. An armed robbery conviction could mean mandatory prison time.
Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., was taken into custody two days after the alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley at a Las Vegas hotel-casino.
He pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to conspiracy to commit robbery, a felony, in a plea deal that could get him up to six years in prison. District Attorney David Roger has said prosecutors will seek a suspended sentence, which could get Alexander probation.
Alexander, McClinton and another man, Charles Cashmore, have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and agreed to testify against Simpson. Cashmore testified Friday. McClinton is expected to follow Alexander to the witness stand before the hearing ends.
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