2 co-defendants to testify against Simpson
EmptyLAS VEGAS -- A second co-defendant in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case said Monday that he will plead guilty to a reduced charge and testify against Simpson and three others in the alleged hotel room theft of sports collectibles from two memorabilia dealers.
Walter Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., told a judge he will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, a felony that could bring one to six years in prison.
Outside the courtroom, Alexander and his lawyers declined to say what testimony he will provide or whether Alexander carried a gun into the hotel room.
Earlier Monday, Charles Cashmore, 40, of Las Vegas, told the same judge that he would plead guilty to a lesser felony, accessory to robbery, and testify for the prosecution. Cashmore could get probation up to five years in prison.
The sudden plea agreements up the ante in the prosecution of Simpson. Cashmore can testify that Alexander and co-defendant Michael McClinton had guns in the Sept. 13 confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers at a Las Vegas casino hotel room, Cashmore's lawyer said.
"He can establish who was in the room, what was said, who had guns, who didn't have guns, potentially who may have seen guns, who didn't see guns," Cashmore's attorney, Edward Miley, said outside court. "I think he wishes he would have never met O.J."
Simpson and his lawyers have denied guns were in the room at the Palace Station hotel-casino. Simpson's lawyers did not immediately respond Monday to requests for comment.
Alexander's lawyer, Robert Dennis Rentzer, expressed doubt Cashmore knew whether Alexander was armed.
McClinton's lawyer, Bill Terry, did not respond to requests for comment.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger declined comment outside court and has not outlined the prosecution's strategy.
Miley said Alexander's testimony could put Simpson's role in the incident in sharper focus.
"What Mr. Alexander, I'm assuming, will be able to say is who told them to bring firearms, what planning there was, and what was said and done after the fact," Miley said.
"It's always a prosecutor's strategy to go after the little fish to get to the big fish." he said. "In this, it seems to be that O.J. Simpson is the big fish."
Alexander and Cashmore waived preliminary hearings. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure Jr., set arraignments for Oct. 23.
Outside court, Cashmore said he thought he'd done the right thing, but declined additional comment.
Cashmore and Alexander initially were charged with nine felonies and a gross misdemeanor, charges that included kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy. A kidnapping conviction alone could have resulted in a sentence of life in prison with parole.
Simpson, McClinton, Clarence "C.J." Stewart and Charles Ehrlich are due in court for a preliminary hearing Nov. 8 and 9. Bonaventure will decide then whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial in state court, on charges including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault, burglary and conspiracy.
Simpson claims at least some of the items taken from collectors Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong belonged to him.
Cashmore was introduced to Simpson and most of the others in the group for the first time minutes before the alleged robbery, Miley said.
"He didn't know anyone. He didn't know what was going on," Miley said. "He didn't have a gun."
Alexander, a real estate agent and Simpson golfing buddy, was the first man arrested in the case Sept. 15. He was freed without bail after initial questioning by police. Roger told the judge that for Alexander's cooperation, prosecutors will send a letter on Alexander's behalf to boards of realty.
Cashmore, a journeyman laborer, bartender and disc jockey, surrendered to authorities six days after the encounter, after police released images from hotel security videotapes showing him carrying a box from the hotel room
Cashmore didn't look at everything in the box, but said some items included lithograph prints of football great Joe Montana, his lawyer said.
Cashmore should have immediately gone to the police and turned over the items he carried out of the room, Miley said. "He should have done something, but he didn't," Miley said.