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O.J. Simpson co-defendant takes stand against him

  • Story Highlights
  • Witness: Simpson became angry, while another former co-defendant pulled a gun
  • Another witness says Simpson "depressed" after hearing gun was used
  • Simpson faces robbery, kidnapping, assault with deadly weapon charges
  • Simpson has pleaded not guilty
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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- One of the men who took a plea deal in exchange for his testimony in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case said Friday that he saw another co-defendant pull a gun when the two accompanied Simpson into a hotel room.

O.J. Simpson appears in court in Clark County, Nevada, on Friday.

Charles Cashmore -- who took the stand in the former NFL star's preliminary hearing -- is one of three men who agreed to plead guilty to reduced charges in connection with the September 13 incident at the Palace Station hotel.

Simpson said he was merely taking back items that belonged to him, but a memorabilia dealer -- one of the two alleged victims -- described it as a "military-style invasion."

Simpson, 60, faces charges that could put him behind bars for life if he is convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

Cashmore's testimony came on the second day of a hearing in Clark County Justice Court to determine whether there is enough evidence to send the cases against Simpson and two remaining co-defendants -- Clarence Stewart and Charles Erlich -- to trial.

Cashmore testified he met Simpson through Stewart earlier that day, and was asked to come along to the hotel "to pick up something, some belongings that were Mr. Simpson's" but did not have a clear picture of what was going to take place.

Once in the room, Simpson became angry at the men inside, and another former co-defendant, Michael McClinton, pulled a gun, Cashmore testified.

Cashmore described McClinton as the "most aggressive" in the room.

McClinton has also agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges and testify against Simpson.

"I saw him raise the gun, and I saw him move it through the room," Cashmore said of McClinton. Meanwhile, he said, he took pillowcases off the bed and began putting items inside.

He testified he saw a second gun in the belt of co-defendant Walter Alexander, but Alexander never pulled the weapon.

McClinton told alleged victims Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, both memorabilia dealers, "If we were in Los Angeles, you'd be lying where you stand," Cashmore testified.

While the confrontation lasted only minutes, he said, "it seemed like a long time."

After the incident, Simpson said on the phone that he didn't want anything that wasn't his and there were no guns involved, Cashmore testified.

Cashmore said he didn't know who was on the other end of Simpson's phone call.

Earlier, Thomas Riccio, the man who set up the meeting between Simpson and the memorabilia dealers, said Simpson called him just after the confrontation.

"From the very beginning, he was saying, 'There was no gun, don't say there was a gun, 'cause there was no gun,' " Riccio said.

"That's when I first told him I saw a gun. 'O.J., I can't say there was no gun because I saw a gun.' And he was really, really depressed," Riccio said. Video Watch Riccio's testimony »

Riccio said he learned of the existence of the items when Beardsley called him.

In the first phone call, Riccio said, Beardsley did not admit the items were stolen, but in a later phone call said they were. He testified that based on his past dealings with Beardsley, he was suspicious of a setup, and contacted police mainly to protect himself.

But local and federal authorities, he said, showed "zero interest. I was surprised and a little -- a lot disappointed."

After police refused to intervene, he said, Simpson decided to go ahead with an attempt to retrieve the items.

Fromong testified Thursday that Simpson and a group of men burst into a room at the Palace Station hotel and took the items. At least two of the men with Simpson were armed, and Simpson ordered his associates to keep Fromong and Beardsley in the room while the disputed merchandise was removed, he said.

Simpson faces 12 criminal counts -- including conspiracy, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon -- in the incident.

McClinton and Alexander are also expected to testify against him and say that guns were involved.

According to testimony, the 600 to 700 items Fromong and Beardsley were offering for sale included presentation balls, plaques, and ties worn by Simpson during his criminal trial for the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

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Simpson was acquitted after one of the most sensational trials in American history, but a civil jury later found him liable for the deaths, slapping him with a $33 million judgment.

Fromong insisted he owned all of the memorabilia he was trying to sell, including items he bought. He said he had canceled checks to prove the purchases were made. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Peter Ornstein contributed to this report.

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