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Defense lawyers pick apart recordings

Attorneys also point out errors in police transcripts of audio recording

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detective Andy Caldwell displays a handgun while testifying during the O.J. Simpson trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center Friday, Sept. 26, 2008, in Las Vegas.

Updated Friday, Sept. 26, 2008 | 2:45 p.m.

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O.J. Simpson attends his trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center Friday, Sept. 26, 2008, in Las Vegas. Simpson faces 12 charges, including felony kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy.

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O.J. Simpson attorney Gabriel Grasso points to a transcript of an audio recording identifying a statement by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department crime scene analyst Michael Perkins during Simpson's trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center on Friday, Sept. 26, 2008, in Las Vegas. The line reads "Hey, if the glove don't fit, then you must acquit."

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Defense lawyers today took advantage of state witness Metro Police detective Andy Caldwell's second appearance on the stand by scrutinizing what investigators working on O.J. Simpson's robbery/kidnapping case said while processing the scene.

Defense attorney Gabriel Grasso pointed out several errors in the Metro-produced transcripts and indicated investigators were biased and racist.

Simpson and his co-accused, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, face a dozen robbery, kidnapping and weapons charges stemming from an altercation with two memorabilia dealers, Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, in a Palace Station hotel room last year.

Caldwell was re-called by prosecutors to explain how investigators obtained and used evidence. He was the seventh witness called to the stand and first addressed the court last week.

After Caldwell told the court how investigators contrasted phone records with audio recordings to establish a timeline of events surrounding the alleged robbery, Grasso scrutinized investigators' words that were secretly captured on tape.

The middleman who arranged the meeting between Simpson and the memorabilia dealers, Thomas Riccio, hid a tape recorder in the hotel room where the confrontation took place. Those recordings, which could not be verified by an FBI analysis, are now central evidence in the case.

Caldwell supervised the production of the transcripts of the recordings.

Page 193 of the LVPD transcript quotes two investigators as they process evidence in the Palace Station hotel room. It reads:

Perkins: This is great. Yeah. Uh, John said, he's like, yeah. California can't get him _____ now we'll be _____ got him.

(Laughing)

Grasso suggested that even with the court's "junky sound system," it can be heard that crime scene analyst Michael Perkins is actually saying, "California can't get it (expletive) done, now we'll get it done."

The defense said investigators had it in for Simpson and were determined to build the case against him.

Grasso believes the investigators were talking about Simpson's 1995 acquittal in relation to the murder of Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Perkins later said, "Hey, if the glove don't fit, then you must acquit." Simpson's former defense attorney, Johnnie Cochran, first delivered the line 13 years ago during Simpson's murder trial.

The exchange is detailed on page 147 of the transcript. On the following sheet, Perkins is quoted saying, "We're just talkin' about Cochran and Shapiro a little while ago. I think he's gonna have to use Barry Schek (sp) for this one."

Later in the transcript, on page 148, Perkins and another investigator, Clint Nichols, talk about Simpson's imminent arrest.

Nichols: Uh, he's gonna get arrested.

Perkins: Who, who's gonna get arrested?

Nichols: O.J.

Perkins: Oh, good.

...

Nichols: ... Rod's already all over it at the night club watching him drink so, just waitin' for a phone call, we'll snatch him up.

Perkins: So then, they got a, an eyeball on him?

Nichols: Yeah, they're actually hanging out at the night club where's he's at...

Caldwell revealed last week that Metro placed Simpson under surveillance after the alleged robbery was reported. He was not arrested until three days after the incident, on Sept 16, 2007.

While the men on the transcript didn't know their words would be documented and dissected, they agreed their investigation would be called into question.

Nichols: There will be no good outcome for our agency on this no matter what we do.

(Laughing)

Unknown: Yeah.

Nichols: That's the unfortunate part ... because if we don't arrest him, you gave him preferential treatment, and when we do, they'll find so many holes is what we did.

Elsewhere, he Perkins heard agreeing after Nichols says, "He's a jackass, apparently," but it is not clear who Nichols is talking about. Perkins also calls someone "a dirt bag."

Using a large visual chart complete with photos, Caldwell charted the telephone correspondence between the accused and their alleged co-conspirators who have signed plea bargains with the defense. Simpson's daughter, Arnelle Simpson, is also on the chart, but the middleman who arranged the hotel room meeting, Thomas Riccio, is not.

Riccio made several calls to Simpson and others in the group, as well as to the two memorabilia dealers who said they were robbed during the raid, Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

Fromong and Beardsley were also nowhere to be seen on the detective's poster board, even though Simpson called them over the phone just hours after the alleged robbery, and spoke to them during the days that followed, as well.

Personal identity information revealed at trial

Sensitive personal information was displayed this morning for all to see as prosecutors built their case against O.J. Simpson and his former golfing buddy, Clarence "C.J." Stewart.

Simpson and Stewart face a dozen robbery, kidnapping and weapons charges stemming from an altercation with two memorabilia dealers, Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, in a Palace Station hotel room last year.

Prosecutors this morning displayed cell phone records and invoices related to the case as they attempted to piece together a timeline of events that transpired on Sept 13, 2007.

The documents revealed sensitive information including names, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security Numbers.

Simpson's lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, first asked to have the phone numbers of individuals who are not connected to the case but are still listed on his client's phone records to be protected from public view. Judge Jackie Glass overruled his request.

Moments later, however, Stewart's lawyers objected and proceedings came to a screeching halt when prosecutors displayed Stewart's AT&T cell phone invoice, which clearly stated the defendant's Social Security Number and other personal information.

Identity thieves use Social Security Numbers, names and addresses to exploit victims' financial information and obtain fraudulent credit cards.

Identity theft is a growing concern in the U.S., with new victims targeted every two seconds, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Nevada is reported to have the third-highest incidence rate of identity theft in the nation per capita.

The phone records displayed in the courtroom today were part of prosecutors' ongoing efforts to establish a timeline of events before, during and after the alleged robbery.

One of the two victims, Alfred Beardsley, testified yesterday that the audio recordings that have been presented as evidence have been tampered with.

He called the recording, which was secretly taken by the middleman who arranged the meeting between Simpson and two memorabilia dealers last year, Thomas Riccio, "a work of art."

"There's all kind of dialogue missing," Beardsley charged.

Metro Police detective Andy Caldwell this morning was re-called to testify in the robbery/kidnapping trial to explain how investigators obtained and used evidence. He was the seventh witness called to the stand and first addressed the court last week.

Caldwell told the court how investigators contrasted phone records with Riccio's audio recordings to establish a timeline of events surrounding the alleged robbery.

"Even if Mr. Riccio's audio recording didn't have a time stamp on it you were able to match it up with specific phone call records that are time stamped and thereby able to put some time stamps to the recording of Mr. Riccio," Deputy District Attorney Christopher Owens summarized. Caldwell confirmed his observation.

The detective explained the phone recorders documented completed, billable calls, but did not reflect calls that were not completed.

Caldwell said he became concerned after reviewing phone records and listening to recorded calls Simpson made from the Clark County Detention Center after his Sept. 16, 2007, arrest.

"Mr. Simpson was attempting to contact victims and co-defendants prior to us being able to contact them," Caldwell said. The detective said it was a concern for him because he felt the records indicated Simpson "was trying to affect the outcome of the case."

Caldwell earlier this morning explained for the court how investigators recovered several items that had been taken from the Palace Station hotel room from the Las Vegas law offices of Stewart's lawyer, Robert Lucherini, and the attorney representing Charles Cashmore, who accompanied Simpson and the others on the hotel room raid.

Caldwell said Metro Police recovered Fromong's missing cell phone and box of Joe Montana lithographs from the officers of Cashmore's attorney.

The detective also said they found several of the footballs that were reported missing, as well as the pillowcases that were allegedly used to haul the memorabilia out of the hotel room during the raid, on a conference room table of Lucherini's office.

Caldwell noted both Stewart and his lawyer willfully led investigators to the items during a walk-though of the premises. Cashmore's lawyer also co-operated with investigators.

Caldwell noted, however, that several items Fromong and Beardsley said Simpson's entourage stole took have yet to be recovered.

He said 24 baseballs autographed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider, several hundred O.J. Simpson-autographed photos and a pair of turf-worn game shoes were never found.

Jurors on Thursday heard from Walter Alexander, who is one of the two men who brought a handgun into the hotel room that day. He said his friend, Michael McClinton, gave him a .22 Beretta after Simpson asked them to "bring some heat" to the confrontation.

Caldwell explained today how Alexander told detectives where in McClinton's home they could find the guns that he said were used in the raid.

"They were in the drawer of Mr. McClinton's bedroom," Caldwell said.

The court hopes to hear from McClinton this afternoon as the state nears the end of its list of witnesses.

Simpson and Stewart's criminal trial began on Sept 15 and is expected to last four to five weeks.

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