O.J. Simpson’s armed robbery/kidnapping trial is gearing up for a second week in glitzy Las Vegas. The highlights of the first week’s court drama include a string of colorful witnesses, the debate over the authenticity of audio tapes, and a surprise visit to the alleged scene of the crime by the jury.
The trial got underway slowly last Monday with opening statements and two witnesses, one of them, Bruce Fromong, became ill on the stand. The next day, Fromong, a memorabilia dealer, was back to continue his testimony.
Fromong and another sports memorabilia dealer, Walter Beardsley, say they were robbed in a Vegas hotel room September 13, 2007, when Simpson and a group of cohorts allegedly busted in and took a number of items. A third man, Thomas Riccio, who is a collectibles dealer, was also in the room at the time.
The prosecution called it armed robbery. The defense claims Simpson was just there to recover some property that had been stolen from him. Simpson and co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, face about a dozen charges which could send them to prison for life, if they are convicted.
On Wednesday, Las Vegas Police Detective Andy Caldwell testified about what the hotel surveillance tape showed and the initial investigation at the scene. Also, Caldwell says, at first, he was not aware that the third man, Thomas Riccio, had allegedly taped the encounter.
A few days after the incident, Riccio reportedly sold a tape to the celebrity web site TMZ for somewhere around $100,000. Later, Caldwell got copies of that audio tape and others made by Riccio. A number of witnesses debated the content and the authenticity of those tapes in their testimony.
In a surprise move on Friday, the jurors were taken to the Palace Station Hotel & Casino where they toured the room where the alleged raid took place.
The trial resumed when the jurors returned to the courtroom. For a second day, Thomas Riccio took the stand and testified about his involvement and those controversial audio tapes as well. Riccio reportedly has been given immunity in return for his testimony.