Ailing witness returns to stand in O.J. trial

September 16, 2008 11:01:18 AM PDT
The witness who fell ill during the first day of testimony in the O.J. Simpson trial returned to the stand Tuesday morning, giving defense lawyers another crack at cross-examination.Bruce Fromong, one of two memorabilia dealers Simpson is accused of robbing, apologized when he returned Tuesday.

"No problem. No problem," Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass responded.

Paramedics were summoned after Fromong, 54, became lightheaded while undergoing cross-examination Monday. They examined Fromong but left without taking him to a hospital.

"It was a long day; I might not have had enough water," Fromong said as he returned to court Tuesday. Fromong has had four heart attacks in the past year and is "medically fragile," his attorney says.

The break Monday had interrupted a pointed cross-examination by Simpson lawyer Gabriel Grasso, who bored in after Fromong said for the first time that during the hotel room confrontation a year ago, he heard "somebody in the room saying, 'put the gun down."' Fromong said he didn't know who uttered the words, and acknowledged under questioning that he never mentioned it to police last September or at a preliminary hearing in November.

Simpson, 61, and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, 54, have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon.

Simpson says he went to the hotel room to retrieve items from Fromong and another dealer, Alfred Beardsley, that actually belonged to him. He also says he didn't know anyone with him was armed.

Fromong, who knew Simpson and sold his memorabilia, testified Monday that Simpson appeared surprised when he recognized him and "shouted, 'How could you sell my stuff? I thought you were a good guy. You stole my stuff."' Fromong conceded during cross-examination that some of the items he sought to sell were "heirlooms."

"He would give them to friends or family but he would never sell his own memorabilia," said Fromong. The testimony supported the defense position that Simpson wanted to retrieve items of sentimental value and did not plan to rob anyone.

After Fromong, prosecutors were expected to call several other witnesses to set the stage for the jury to hear from Thomas Riccio, the colorful collectibles broker who arranged the hotel room meeting between Simpson and the two dealers.

"Obviously the prosecution may change witness order a little bit, but I would expect Tom Riccio tomorrow or Wednesday," Simpson defense attorney Yale Galanter said.

Testimony had gotten under way Monday after jurors heard opening statements.


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