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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
O.J. witness says he took plea after 'revelation'

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- A former defendant in the O.J. Simpson kidnapping and armed robbery case testified Wednesday that he decided to take a plea deal and accuse Simpson in court after God answered his prayers with a revelation telling him to do the right thing.

Walter "Goldie" Alexander, who meticulously recounted events surrounding the Sept. 13, 2007, Las Vegas hotel room confrontation, said Simpson told him and another friend to carry guns when they went to take back allegedly stolen memorabilia from dealers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.

"He said, 'Just bring guns so they know we mean business,'" Alexander said.

Alexander, the first witness to admit carrying a weapon into the Palace Station Casino hotel room, faced a pounding cross-examination by Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, which led him to complain that maybe he should not have taken a deal and remained a defendant.

"Then I would not have to say anything, and I would not have to be badgered by this man," Alexander said.

Judge Jackie Glass told jurors to disregard the remark, but Alexander and Galanter continued to clash. The judge warned Galanter to back off after he leaned toward Alexander with a transcript and asked him whether he had tried to "shake down" Simpson's friend Thomas Scotto.

"Can you get away from me? I don't like the way you smell," Alexander snapped.

Glass told the defense lawyer to keep his distance from witnesses and tone down his attacks.

Simpson, a former golfing buddy of Alexander's, has said he saw no guns in the hotel room and did not ask anyone to bring weapons.

Alexander, 47, of Mesa, Ariz., and Simpson were in Las Vegas for Scotto's wedding. Alexander said that when he arrived, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, who was acting as the wedding planner, told him to contact Simpson.

"He said, 'Call O.J. He needs your help,'"' Alexander said, implicating Stewart - Simpson's only remaining co-defendant - in the hotel room plan for the first time.

Alexander said he and a friend, Michael "Spencer" McClinton, met with Simpson, who told them he was going to try to reclaim some items stolen from him.

"He said, 'Do you think you can get some heat?'"' Alexander said.

"My friend, Spencer, spoke up and said, 'No problem. I got plenty of heat. I'm licensed to carry a gun,'"' Alexander said.

He said Simpson told them to bring the guns but not take them out.

Alexander said McClinton gave him a .22-caliber pistol that he carried in his waistband while the other man carried a larger gun.

He described a chaotic scene inside the room, with Simpson yelling at the memorabilia dealers, McClinton waving the gun and telling everyone to freeze, and Stewart frisking everyone. At one point, he said, Simpson told McClinton to put down the gun.

Alexander said he quickly realized he was in trouble.

"I was involved in an armed robbery. It wasn't what it was, but that's how it was going to look to the public," he said.

Later he said Simpson told him: "Just say there's no guns, and there won't be any trouble."

He said Simpson also joked, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless you're O.J. Simpson," and advised him to get out of town.

After Alexander was arrested at the airport, he said prosecutors offered him a deal to testify for reduced charges. After accepting, he said he tried to back out because he heard that another witness had been given immunity from prosecution and he wanted that, too.

Asked why he finally accepted the plea deal, he said, "I prayed on the matter and I had a revelation that I did something wrong, and the Bible told me I should go tell the truth."

Galanter asked whether God had spoken to him, and he said yes.

"So you needed divine intervention to take the deal?" asked the lawyer.

"I sure did," Alexander said.

Later, Glass ruled that Alexander could not keep a Bible with him in the witness box. She also told defense lawyers they could not question him about whether he told authorities he was a real estate agent.

Galanter argued it was important to show that Alexander lied, because he allegedly made a living as a pimp, but the judge wouldn't allow it.

Simpson and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon. They face prison if convicted.

The court day began with Glass barring prosecutors from reminding jurors of Simpson's 1995 Los Angeles acquittal in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. She refused to allow Goldman family attorney David Cook to testify, suggesting the evidence would be prejudicial.

"We are here to decide the case of 2007," she said.

The prosecution wanted Cook to testify about answers Simpson gave in February 2007 in response to a legal questionnaire about his assets. District Attorney David Roger said Cook could help show that Simpson tried to hide memorabilia and avoid paying a $33.5 million civil wrongful death judgment, and that anger at the Goldmans was a reason he organized the confrontation.

Cook said outside court that the judge "didn't want me to walk in there with a whole train of ghosts."