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Defense: Simpson prosecutors are overreaching

Prosecutors overreached with charges against O.J. Simpson and co-defendants in a case accusing them of armed robbery, kidnapping and other counts, a lawyer for one of the suspects said Thursday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Prosecutors overreached with charges against O.J. Simpson and co-defendants in a case accusing them of armed robbery, kidnapping and other counts, a lawyer for one of the suspects said Thursday.

Bail was set at $32,000 for Michael McClinton, whose lawyer said his client won’t be able to raise the money to get out of jail.

“The kidnapping allegation, particularly, is fairly thin, your honor,” lawyer Bill Terry told Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure Jr.

Terry suggested a possible defense on the kidnapping charge, saying the crime would require moving people against their will and noting that, according to police reports, “everything occurred within one room.”

Two sports memorabilia collectors accuse former NFL great Simpson and five other men of bursting into a hotel room Sept. 13, displaying guns, and stealing autographed footballs and other items.

Another defendant, Charles Cashmore, also made an initial appearance before Bonaventure, who ordered him held without bail pending arraignment and a bail hearing Friday. Formal charges will be filed against Cashmore by then, said Danielle Pieper, a Clark County prosecutor.

Accuser appears in court
Alfred Beardsley, 46, an accuser along with Bruce Fromong, appeared in another courtroom and told a judge he would not contest his return to custody in California on a parole violation, a court spokesman said. A parole official declined to say when or where Beardsley would be moved.

Beardsley, an ex-convict from Burbank, was arrested Wednesday at a Las Vegas Strip hotel on a warrant alleging he violated parole travel restrictions by traveling to Nevada. He remained held without bail.

Fromong, 53, is recovering from a heart attack in a Los Angeles hospital.

Authorities allege that the suspects went to the hotel room on the pretext of brokering a deal with Beardsley and Fromong. According to police reports, the collectors were ordered at gunpoint to hand over items valued at as much as $100,000, including football game balls signed by Simpson, Joe Montana lithographs, baseballs autographed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider and framed awards and plaques.

The judge, who on Wednesday arraigned Simpson and set his bail at $125,000, acknowledged that McClinton, 50, of Las Vegas, had “no significant criminal history” and credited him with surrendering to police Tuesday.

If McClinton is released, he will be on house arrest and must surrender his passport and give up a concealed weapon permit, the judge said.

“My concern here is the weapons,” Bonaventure said.

Handguns found
Searches have turned up two semiautomatic handguns used in the holdup, police said. Warrants remained sealed, a court spokesman said.

Bonaventure signed a police arrest warrant for McClinton earlier in the week on nearly the same charges as Simpson — including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a weapon and conspiracy. Simpson faces one additional charge of felony coercion.

Simpson flew home late Wednesday to the Miami area and refused to answer reporters’ questions about the case. Simpson, who was famously acquitted in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife and her friend but found liable for the deaths in a civil trial, left the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport in an SUV.

McClinton’s preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 4. Two other defendants, Walter Alexander, 46, and Clarence Stewart, 53, were arrested earlier and released pending court appearances.

Cashmore, 40, of Las Vegas, surrendered to authorities Wednesday, after police circulated photos drawn from surveillance tapes showing him and another man carrying boxes from the Palace Station hotel-casino after the suspected heist.

His lawyer, Edward Miley, said he would seek bail. He described Cashmore as a union laborer who works as a disc jockey and cook and has lived in Las Vegas for 15 years.

“He’s sitting in jail for three days and can’t make any income for his family,” Miley said.

Police said they were still seeking the other man, whose name has not been made public.