UPDATED Sept. 19, 2007 – A judge put the squeeze on O.J. Wednesday in his first court appearance to face armed robbery and kidnapping charges.
In a packed courtroom, a Las Vegas judge set bail at $125,000 for the ex-football star, ordered him to surrender his passport and avoid contact with the accusers and witnesses for his alleged role in the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in a Vegas hotel room.
Asked whether he understood the terms of his bail, Simpson, sporting a blue prison jumpsuit and handcuffs, said, "Yes, sir" in a quiet, scratchy voice.
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Conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon and coercion with the use of a deadly weapon are the charges issued against Simpson and three men who allegedly entered the hotel room of two memorabilia collectors in Las Vegas, when Simpson demanded the items. At least one of the men reportedly had a handgun, and two other suspects are sought.
Prosecutors aren't saying that Simpson was armed, but the dealers Alfred Beardlesy and Bruce Fromong said that two of the men with Simpson brandished semiautomatic guns during the incident, according to a recent police report.
In a news conference right after Simpson's court appearance, his lawyer, Yale Galanter, said Simpson would post bond and would shortly return to his Miami home.
"We expect Mr. Simpson to be processed and released fairly quickly," Galanter said. "He's relieved. This has been a very harrowing experience for him."
"He just wants to get home and be with his family," said Galanter, who called the bail "extremely reasonable."
'Think You Can Steal My S*** and Sell It?'
Simpson has said that the items were his, and some who side with the Heisman Trophy-winner say he was set up for the arrest because the episode was caught on audio tape.
A voice identified as Simpson’s is heard on tape, demanding items he reportedly autographed and claims were taken from him, saying: “Don’t let nobody out this room. ...Think you can steal my s*** and sell it?” At least one other voice, apparently that of a fellow robbery suspect, can be heard in the background ordering someone against the wall.
Walter Alexander, 46, was one of the men who accompanied Simpson to the hotel room, and who was arrested and released on bail. He says he is a friend of Simpson’s and they were in town to attend the same wedding.
“Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now I'm in the middle of this mess, and I hate that it happened,” he says.
The memorabilia collectors, Bruce Fromong, who suffered a heart attack Tuesday and is condition at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Alfred Beardsley, initially said the ex-football star left the hotel room with autographed documents, a football and other items. But Beardsley now says, “I want this thing to go away” and that he only called cops because he didn’t want to be held personally responsible for the valuables.
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'Sounds Like A Setup'
This past Friday, Captain James Dillon of the Las Vegas Police department was trying to tell reporters his officers were making sure the Simpson case was handled properly because of the attention it would get. But it didn't come out that way.
He said police would be sure to conduct "a thorough, BIASED and competent investigation," AP reports.
Alexander says Simpson may have been tricked because the memorabilia dealer who tipped him off also recorded everything on tape.
"It sounds like a setup to me," Alexander told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. He said Simpson had thought the memorabilia belonged to him after getting a call from the dealer.
"He did believe that he was going to retrieve his own property," Alexander said.
Not to mention, one of Simpson's former attorneys believes there are some people who are out to O.J. convicted of some crime to get a measure of justice for his murdered ex-wife and her friend.
Goldman Trying to Squeeze O.J.
Carl Douglas, who was part of the "Dream Team" that won Simpson an acquittal on double murder charges back in 1995, says the way the ex-NFL star is being treated by Las Vegas authorities is "unfair and over the top."
Douglas says "it is regrettable that America has not gotten over the O.J. Simpson criminal case." Among the things that upset Douglas is that Simpson is being held without bail and that the judge handling the case has declared Simpson a flight risk.
In a related development, the family of Ron Goldman, who Simpson was tried and cleared of murdering, along with Simpson’s ex-wife, wants memorabilia at the center of the episode. A judge rejected the family’s initial petition to claim all the items, which they could sell and recover some monetary damages from the civil suit they won, in connection with Goldman’s murder. But the judge let them specify each valuable they seek and return to court with specific requests.
Do you think O.J. was set up? Do you expect him to serve some serious time for the latest rap? Click “Discuss Now,” to the right to post your comment.