A hearing will take place next month for US prosecutors to present evidence against OJ Simpson and five other men accused of kidnapping and robbing two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint.
Simpson, a one-time football hero and movie star, became notorious a decade ago when charged with the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. A jury acquitted Simpson of criminal charges, but the Goldman family later won a civil lawsuit against him.
Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure ordered the defendants and their lawyers to attend the hearing on November 8 and possibly the next day.
Rejecting a request from one of the defendant’s lawyers for a later date, Mr Bonaventure said: “I have to consider the state, co-defendants, witnesses (and) the general public.”
Clark County district attorney David Roger did not oppose the date. He could present evidence behind closed doors to a grand jury before November 8 instead of making it public.
A hearing would allow defence lawyers to cross-examine each witness and present their own witnesses, while a grand jury would not. At the hearing’s conclusion, the judge would be asked whether to bind the case over for trial in state court.
Simpson’s local lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, confirmed outside court that Simpson would attend the hearing with his Miami-based lawyer, Yale Galanter.
Simpson and his co-defendants are accused of holding memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley at gunpoint in a hotel room on September 13 and taking boxes of autographed footballs and other collectibles. Simpson has claimed some of the items belonged to him and he was retrieving them.
Each man faces 10 charges including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a weapon, burglary and conspiracy. The kidnapping charge carries the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
Simpson, 60, faces an 11th charge – coercion, stemming from allegations that he took a mobile phone from Mr Fromong.
At the court hearing, a lawyer entered a not guilty plea on behalf of one of the co-defendants, Clarence Stewart, 53, of Las Vegas.
The judge made other moves which consolidate the defendants’ cases, cancelling an arraignment and two preliminary hearings for three of the accused men.