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CNN BREAKING NEWS
O.J. Simpson Arrested
Aired September 16, 2007 - 14:15 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN BREAKING NEWS)
ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We have some breaking news in this latest O.J. Simpson case involving an armed robbery at a casino hotel room in Las Vegas. We have Ted Rowlands on the line with us from Las Vegas. He has spoken with Simpson several times by phone over the last couple of days. Ted, what do you know?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A source with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, O.J. Simpson is in custody at this moment. He was arrested within the last 10 minutes and is being booked as we speak. He is in the custody of the Las Vegas Police Department. We don't know the exact charges he is facing, but we expect they will be the same charges or close to the same charges as another one of his alleged accomplices is facing, which includes conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, and armed robbery with a deadly weapon.
Mr. Simpson was staying in town for a wedding. He has been the subject, obviously, of an intense investigation over an alleged break- in at a hotel casino here involving memorabilia. And we now know, according to a source with the police department, that O.J. Simpson is in custody, has been arrested.
CHO: Ted, I understand that you are in the hotel lobby where Simpson is staying. Have you seen him at all? Did you see him come through that lobby at any point today?
ROWLANDS: We have not seen O.J. Simpson. We did see a number of detectives, plain-clothed detectives go up the elevators toward Simpson's room about 10 minutes ago. And we have not seen him emerge as of yet. We are not sure if he's left out of another exit or entrance, but we have confirmed with a reliable source close to the investigation that he is in police custody at this moment.
And where exactly he is physically, we don't know. We have not seen him physically in the hotel here. But he is in police custody, according to this source.
CHO: Ted, what can you tell us about the other man, the alleged accomplice arrested in this case? And there is also word that there might be as many as four outstanding suspects. What do you know about that?
ROWLANDS: An arrest was made last night of a man who was an alleged accomplice in this armed robbery, according to a source with the police department. This individual is a resident of Arizona, and he was arrested while he was on his way to the airport here in Las Vegas. He was booked last night on the similar charges, or the charges that I talked about earlier, including armed robbery. He was also charged on assault with a deadly weapon, which we do not expect Mr. Simpson to be subjected to, because, according to all accounts from witnesses on both sides of this, Mr. Simpson never had a gun in his possession.
From the beginning, O.J. has said, yes, he was in this hotel room. Yes, he went there to get his materials, his goods, but no, he did not have a gun. And no, he did not see a gun. And he believes that there were no guns involved. Metro Police obviously with this arrest think differently, and they did say -- a source close to this investigation told us earlier today that, indeed, as a result of multiple search warrants, they have recovered two guns that they do believe were used in this incident.
CHO: Ted, why don't you take us back to Thursday night for the viewers who aren't aware of the latest developments. Bring us up to date. What exactly happened from what you know, from Simpson's accounts to you, and from police accounts? What happened Thursday night at the Palace casino hotel?
ROWLANDS: About 8:00 p.m., Las Vegas police got a call of an armed robbery, and one of the suspects they were told was O.J. Simpson. When they responded, the witnesses and the alleged victims in this case said that O.J. Simpson, along with four other men, burst into a room and stole at gunpoint pieces of memorabilia, basically football memorabilia with O.J. Simpson's signature and other items that they were planning to sell to a buyer that they thought they were meeting.
O.J. Simpson tells a different story saying, yes, I was there that night, I was there with my friends that night. And we actually set up a bit of a sting, because we had heard that stolen goods of mine were being sold on the black market. So we went up there, we set all this up, and I simply took back what was mine. I took the stuff that I own, and that is that.
Police have spent the last three days investigating this, talking to witnesses, looking at surveillance video, and now just a few minutes ago have arrested O.J. Simpson.
CHO: What can you tell us, Ted, about the relationship between these men? I know you declined to say that they are very close friends, but they knew each other very well, I understand. And there was some report that they might even work out some sort of deal, where they were trying to say, listen, why don't we all make nice, say sorry to each other. Obviously, that doesn't make a difference in terms of police moving forward with an arrest, but talk a little bit more about the relationship between all of these men.
ROWLANDS: Yes. This is what makes it so murky. These two individuals who are supposedly the alleged victims in this case had dealt with Simpson for years. In fact, one of them told me that he considered O.J. a very good friend. They say that they acquired these items. They purchased these items, and they were just simply selling these items to an interested buyer. O.J. also acknowledges that these were guys I knew. He says I felt betrayed to find out that they had my personal stuff, including photographs of me and my family -- stolen, he says, from his Rockingham residence shortly after the verdict in the murder trial.
He says that he was betrayed. They say they were betrayed, because O.J. came in with guns drawn.
Then a couple of days goes by, and sure enough one of the alleged victims has apparently talked to Simpson, and said that he doesn't want to press charges anymore and it was blown out of proportion. The problem is, he was already on tape with the police; he had made a statement and a complaint. And the bottom line is the police are moving forward, as we see witnessed here with the arrest.
CHO: I know he told the "Los Angeles Times" that he had hoped that what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.
Ted, I know you've spoken to him by phone several times. Why do you think he spoke to you? Because you would think at this point, he would have learned his lesson and stayed quiet, particularly when there is an active police investigation going on.
ROWLANDS: Well, from his standpoint, it's simply he believes that this is being blown out of proportion. He believes that what he did was right. He said to me, "what would you do in this situation? How would you handle it if you knew that somebody had your personal effects and were trying to sell them?" He went in there, in his mind, just to do the right thing by him.
He says, yes, I may have taken some other stuff. I'm going to give all that stuff back to them. And I didn't hurt anybody. Nobody was roughed up. There were no guns. And so he talked to the media, because he really wanted his side of the story out there. I think that was his motivation. You can obviously second-guess the wisdom of that, but I think that was his motivation, why he was talking to us repeatedly.
CHO: Let's talk, Ted, a little bit about this sports memorabilia that was taken from that hotel room. Is Simpson in possession of that sports memorabilia right now, as you understand it?
ROWLANDS: Yes. Well, the Las Vegas police actually did acknowledge at a press conference on Friday that they are in possession of sports memorabilia that they did get from O.J. Simpson himself, did have some of it as well. He was reaching out to the victims to return the stuff that didn't belong to him, the stuff that wasn't his that got caught up in all of this when they left the hotel room.
CHO: There was at least one report from "The Las Vegas Review Journal" that said $75,000 worth of sports memorabilia was taken, including items that did not belong to him, reportedly items signed by Joe Montana and Pete Rose.
What can you tell us about the items that were taken from that room? And also, what can you say about the reports that one of the items was the suit that he wore in his murder trial?
ROWLANDS: The suit was not in that room and was not there, by all accounts. There was an initial report that the suit that he wore during the acquittal in the murder trial in 1995 was one of the possessions that was being sold. That is not accurate.
However, the other items that you described were involved in this. And O.J. Simpson says that he did take some because of the situation. He did take some things that weren't his and was returning them, and in the process of trying to return them to their rightful owners, which in this case are the alleged victims.
So you understand how murky this all is and sort of shady it is. The bottom line is, these two guys called the police and said they were victims of armed robbery. The police have investigated and they believe that, indeed, there was an armed robbery. And indeed, O.J. Simpson was involved. And now he is in police custody.
CHO: We are hearing some reports that there might be a news conference at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. Ted, I'm sure you are aware of that. We've also got Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney, on the phone. But before I get to Mr. Coffey, I want to ask you one more question, Ted. There are some reports that there are several outstanding suspects, maybe as many as four. What are you hearing about that, if anything?
All right. I think we've lost Ted, but we want to bring in Kendall Coffey...
ROWLANDS: No, I'm here.
CHO: Kendall, are you there? Ted? All right, Ted, I'm going to repeat that question. Just wondering if you have any information about more outstanding suspects, possibly as many as four? What are you hearing from your sources about that?
ROWLANDS: Yes. We do understand that there are more arrests to come most likely. We don't have any specifics as to if any more arrests are being handled at this time, or if they were, other than the one arrest and the arrest of O.J. Simpson. But we are under the impression that there will be more arrests pertaining to this case, obviously because of the amount of people involved. You've got four people and O.J. apparently were involved in the initial situation there. And two of those are in custody. One would think the others will also be taken into custody.
CHO: Ted, stand by. And I know you are trying to look out for Mr. Simpson. Perhaps he has already left out of the side entrance.
But in the meantime, we are going to get to Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney. He is with us, as well.
Kendall, tell me, are you surprised by this arrest? And also, what kind of charges could Simpson be facing?
KENDALL COFFEEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It's not a surprise at all. And, of course, once the police made a determination and found some guns, could find no reason to perceive why the alleged victims in the room would be making up the story about Simpson and others coming in, barging in with guns, threatening them and taking their stuff. It was pretty clear there was a crime.
The charges that O.J. faces are very serious. This is not a house arrest or a few months in a county jail kind of a thing. You are talking armed robbery, you're talking about armed assault, conspiracy. These are charges, if a conviction were to result, that typically would put somebody into state prison for years.
CHO: Wow. Let's talk a little bit about armed robbery. You mentioned armed in more than one of the charges. Kendall, let's talk a little bit about that, because by all accounts it does appear that members of Simpson's entourage may have had guns, but not Simpson himself. Yet he could still be charged with armed robbery and other various charges, as well, correct?
COFFEY: Essentially, yes. He'd be charged -- you can be fully as responsible if you are directing it walking in with the others. You don't have to be holding a gun yourself and you can be charged either as an accomplice, as aiding and abetting, or conspiracy theory. So he is in this every bit as deep as whoever walked in with a gun, if in fact that's what happened. And apparently, the police think that there was an armed robbery here.
CHO: Let's talk a little about O.J. Simpson's star power. Clearly, everyone knows who he is. What does that say about the likelihood of a fair trial and the possibility of a plea deal?
COFFEY: I think it creates tremendous problems in getting a fair trial. His trial was maybe the most famous trial in recent times. We have all seen the data seeing that plenty of people thought he got away with murder. How could somebody in that situation get a fair trial now? Not an easy thing.
And O.J.'s immediate concern has got to be what happened in the Michael Vick case. Three of the co-defendants almost immediately made plea deals, turning against Michael Vick. O.J. faces the same risk here, because because of his star power, the police are going to be looking to get the other defendants to make deals, get real light kind of treatment, and then turn against O.J., because he is a giant prize if you are law enforcement.
CHO: That's right. So let's talk about this, some possible scenarios. How quickly would this proceed, do you think? And what do you see as a possible scenario in terms of moving forward?
COFFEY: Well, I mean the starter is going to be the police have to finalize charges. And if arrests are going to be made over the weekend, there still has to be a decision to make formal charges by the prosecutors themselves. That's something that could be a matter of days. Sometimes it's a few weeks. And then it goes from there, and the usual procedures we see. If that happens, there is an arraignment, there could be a bail bond hearing. It gets set for trial. Certainly, if O.J. Simpson is arrested, it's not going to be resolved in 2007. And it's a matter that could be getting a lot of attention, O.J. back in the news again, for months. Maybe the trial could be a year away if, indeed, he is arrested.
CHO: Well, certainly this will drive sales of his book, no doubt about that.
But let's go back to Ted Rowlands in Las Vegas. He's been talking to Simpson by phone several times. Ted, bring us up to date on what you know from where you are.
ROWLANDS: Well, we have been assured by a source close to this investigation that O.J. Simpson was taken into custody within the last half an hour here at the Palms hotel. A person with the Palms security has just come up to us and said that O.J. is, quote, "out." He's gone. They must have moved him out of a back entrance or through a service elevator. We did not physically see him, but according to this source who is close to this investigation, he was placed under arrest within the last half hour and is facing charges which are likely to include armed robbery.
CHO: And tell us about the other man in custody again just to bring us up to date, Ted? There was another man taken into custody, an alleged accomplice last night. You have his name and you have some information about him, right?
ROWLANDS: Yes. We were told that his name is Walter Alexander, a resident of the state of Arizona. He apparently, allegedly, was one of the other men involved in this alleged armed robbery, which took place on Thursday night.
He, according to a police source, was taken into custody on his way to the airport last night. He is facing two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, a count of conspiracy to commit robbery. Two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and a count of burglary with a deadly weapon. If you look at the charges he is facing then try to just think about what O.J. Simpson could be facing begin what we know about what transpired in that room, you would have to assume he, at least, would be facing conspiracy to commit a robbery. Because of what he has said; he freely admits he was involved in what happened that night. He doesn't think there was anything wrong with what happened that night.
Clearly the Las Vegas metro police department begs to differ. Now they are making arrests and one of those people is O.J. Simpson.
ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: My apologies if this is an unfair question because I know all of this is breaking right now. O.J. Simpson has international fame, some would say he is infamous. It doesn't appear he would be a flight risk. Is there any sense he might be let out on bail instead of remaining in jail?
ROWLANDS: I think clearly he'll be let out on bail. This is not a murder case. This is something that will take a while to wind through the court systems. He will obviously be afforded an opportunity to make bail. Most likely some time today. He'll make an initial court appearance within the next few days here in Las Vegas. From there I'm sure there will be a long delay before any sort of trial just because of all the legal systems, the wheels of justice grinding the way they do. I would assume, I would be flabbergasted if he didn't make bail today.
CHO: All right. He has said to you many times he did not believe guns were involved. Of course, this goes against what the Associated Press is reporting, which was that two firearms were seized. Even if he was not in possession of those guns during the incident, this poses a big problem for him.
Ted, let's talk about some of your conversations over the last couple of days with Simpson. What has he told you thus far about what happened Thursday night in that Las Vegas hotel room?
ROWLANDS: Well, O.J. is convinced that what happened there was that basically nothing wrong happened there. He says what happened was simply he found out these people were selling his personal items. So, he set up a sting operation. He posed, had a friend pose as a buyer. They went into the room and he took his stuff back. Simple as that.
The problem is that the allegations came out immediately, by the alleged victims here, that there were two guns involved. Simpson from the beginning has said that is absolutely not true. There were no guns involved. Nobody was roughed up. That has been the crux of the different accounts of what happened.
Otherwise, the victims and O.J. pretty much have the same tale. Take away the violence and the guns, and you have the exact same tale. The problem here, is they believe, the Las Vegas metro police, apparently, these alleged victims. They have, according to a police source, recovered two weapons, two hand guns that they do believe were used in this armed robbery. And believe they have enough evidence to move forward. That's why we are seeing the arrest of O.J. Simpson here.
CHO: Ted, I'm curious to know. All this coincides, incidentally, with the publication of his book "If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer." Of course, the proceeds will go to the Goldman family since a bankruptcy judge awarded the book's rights to that family. I'm curious to know if he has talked at all about that. Did he say anything to you about that?
ROWLANDS: He did. I asked him about the book. He said he has put it behind him. He said he and his family put it behind him long ago. Originally the plan was to write this book and the rights of the book were going to his children. He said, obviously, that blew up and that was over. So, in his mind he claims he put it behind him a long time ago. I asked him about the Goldmans. He said he has absolutely nothing against Fred Goldman and said, "More power to him." We're talking about the sale of that book.
CHO: Ted, stand by. We've got Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin with us from New York. We just lost Jeffrey Toobin, I'm sorry about that. Do we have Kendall Coffey? All right, Ted, sorry about that. Ted, we've got just you on the phone. I want to bring our viewers up to date, again, O.J. Simpson under arrest in an armed robbery Thursday night of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel casino, room. A lot of developments in this case, including the arrest of an alleged accomplice last night. Our very own Ted Rowlands has spoken several times, by phone, with O.J. Simpson, including today I understand, right? What did I tell you today?
ROWLANDS: I talked to him briefly this morning, a few hours ago.
CHO: Let me interrupt you for just a second. Because did he have any sense, at that point, that he was going to be arrested?
ROWLANDS: No. I asked him that. Because I asked him what his first thoughts were about the arrest of his alleged accomplice, his friend Mr. Alexander? He said, quote, "I don't know why they arrested him." Then I asked him, are you nervous that you are going to be arrested sooner than later? He said, "No. I've been completely cooperative with the police. I have nothing to hide." In fact, he said, in the end when this is all done, quote, "the truth will come out."
He says he wasn't necessarily nervous about it. Then again, he did say in his mind the truth will eventually come out, which seems to mean he realizes there were going to be legal wrangling before this situation was actually ironed out. We understand he was in contact with his attorney this morning, as well. I'm sure he was given some sort of a heads-up even if it was just a phone call, Hey, Mr. Simpson, we're about to arrest you.
But at the time that I talked to him, which was really only about an hour before the arrest, it didn't seem to be the case in terms of what he was saying to me.
CHO: All right. Ted Rowlands there in the hotel lobby in Las Vegas where Simpson was staying until he was arrested, from all accounts, about an hour ago. He is under arrest, charges pending in the Thursday night armed robbery of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel casino.
Simpson has claimed all along no guns were involved and that, indeed, he was just taking back what was rightfully his. On the phone from New York is our Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Hey, Jeffrey, tell me, what are your thoughts begin this latest development? This is a big one.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: This is obviously a much bigger deal than if he was just under investigation. The Las Vegas police obviously think they have enough to get a conviction. So the entire O.J. Simpson circus will swing into gear, it looks like. Because this is now a real case. The first question that has to be addressed now are what are the charges and does he get out on bail?
CHO: All right, Jeffrey, I'm going to recap for our viewers, and for you, because I know you are just getting to us. What happened, we understand, in the last hour or so O.J. Simpson was placed under arrest after being questioned some time earlier today, in the armed robbery of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel room. This happened on Thursday night.
According to the Associated Press, two guns were also seized, although Simpson told our very own Ted Rowlands that no guns were involved in this incident. All right, so given that, Jeffrey, what do you think is going to happen going forward? Even if Simpson was not holding any guns in his hands, by some accounts, those guns were drawn. What does this mean for him?
TOOBIN: This is obviously a situation where the facts are very much in dispute. O.J. Simpson has made his living over the past several years, other than receiving a $400,000 pension from the NFL, his main source of income has been memorabilia. Signing things, signing posters, signing clothes. And this appears to be some dispute over who owned some memorabilia. Simpson claimed, to Ted Rowlands, and others this was a misunderstanding and he was simply taking back property that belonged to him.
But that's not how it's done. You simply don't take things back that you think belong to you if is there a dispute. You have to get the police involved. Simpson said he didn't want to get the police involved. Because, you know, since his murder case more than 10 years ago, the police have not been too kindly disposed towards him.
Obviously, there are many more questions than answers. The key questions are, did Simpson participated in any crime? Did he wield a gun or did he conspire with someone else to wield a gun? Those are going to be the key questions going forward.
CHO: Let's talk a little bit about his star power. I talked to Kendall Coffey, former attorney, a moment ago about this. But I want to pose this question to you: How much does his star power play into this in terms of getting a fair trial? In terms of striking a plea deal, perhaps?
TOOBIN: I think his star power is mostly negative at this point. He is a widely despised figure. He was acquitted of criminal charges, he was found liable in the civil case. He has been a total pariah over the past 11 years. He had not resumed anything like his form life.
It is often said there is no such thing as bad publicity, but I think O.J. might be the exception to that rule. He is not highly regarded anywhere. I think his reputation is almost a complete negative at this point. If there is a trial, it will be difficult to seat a jury that does not hold strong feelings about him already.
CHO: Which raises the question, can he get a fair trial, or must they strike a plea deal?
TOOBIN: I think most of the time judges are able to seat juries in high-profile cases. I don't think it will be impossible to seat a fair jury. You don't have to find a jury that has never heard of O.J. Simpson. You only have to find a jury that says they can keep an open mind about the case before them. I don't think that will be impossible, especially since it's been so many years since his acquittal in the criminal case.
I don't want to speculate about whether he is going to plead guilty. He hasn't been formally charged yet. I don't know what the evidence is. There is a lot more everyone has to learn. I am some what surprised that the Las Vegas police brought charges so quickly. O.J. Simpson is not someone who is going to disappear. They might have wanted to conduct a full and thorough investigation then arrest him. Obviously, they think they have enough now, and the case now begins.
CHO: That is an interesting point. I hadn't realized that or thought of that. Let's talk about going forward here, Jeffrey. As you know an alleged accomplice was arrested last night. There could be as many as four outstanding suspects. You are talking about a half dozen people or so here who may have been involved in this incident. Ted Rowlands or Kendall Coffey, one of the two had suggested that perhaps going forward, what's going to happen now is that all of these alleged accomplices will give their statements, perhaps will plead guilty to lesser charges, then turn against Simpson. Is that the way these things are played out?
TOOBIN: Usually in a multiple defendant case the authorities have one defendant they think is the most culpable or the best target. Certainly in a case involving O.J. Simpson he's going to be the one that the government wants most to get. So that does raise the possibility that they will cut deals with the other defendants, give them lesser sentences in return for testimony against Simpson.
Again, I don't know what the evidence is. I don't want to speculate about whether that is near the offing. The most important thing that will happen first is there will be an arraignment. I don't know if they do Sunday arraignments in Nevada. It's probably likely, given that it's probably just around noon in Las Vegas, that he will spend the night in jail and then have an arraignment tomorrow morning. He will have an interesting dispute about whether he should be allowed out on bail.
CHO: All right, Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst. I want you to stand by. We want to go back to Ted Rowlands -- we don't have Ted, sorry about that. Jeffrey, let's continue our discussion.
A little bit more about what we could see going forward. I know you mentioned the arraignment is the next step, but Kendall Coffey, the former U.S. attorney had suggested that by the end of the year this will still be going on. This could be a long and lengthy case, right?
TOOBIN: Well, it could be. The initial charges are just being filed today. I have to say I don't know how it works in Nevada, but this case will probably be presented to a grand jury, or a preliminary hearing or whoever the next intermediate step is. California has preliminary hearings, New York has grand juries. I frankly don't know off the top of my head how Nevada works.
Usually there is an interim step where the district attorney in Clark County, which is where Las Vegas is, will have to decide how the case should proceed. When you are working with the legal system, it's always safe to assume things will go slower rather than faster. I think it is quite likely that this will be resolved in months, not weeks.
CHO: In months, not weeks. I know you are not a betting man, if you had to bet, this is case going to go to trial, do you think, Jeffrey?
TOOBIN: Alina, I am not going to take that bet. I just have no idea.
CHO: We are not going to hold it against you.
TOOBIN: Certainly, certainly, Simpson is the least likely to be offered any sort of plea bargain and the least likely to plea. Interestingly, he does not have a felony criminal record. The only crime he has ever been convicted of was the domestic violence case where he pled guilty to a misdemeanor of beating his then-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, the infamous incident where she called 911, and everyone heard that.
That was, of course, an issue in his trial, but his trial ended in acquittal. So, he does not have a criminal record in connection with the death of his wife or Ron Goldman. He probably will be treated like any other defendant when it comes to bail. Not as one with a significant prior record.
CHO: Interesting point to make. Interesting to point out among the sports memorabilia he says was taken from him, and that was rightfully his, were some photos taken by his late ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson.
We want to go back to Ted Rowlands on the phone with us from Las Vegas. He is in the hotel lobby where Simpson was staying up until his arrest.
We want to bring our viewers up to date again, for people just joining us, Ted, tell us what has happened. What transpired in the past hour to 90 minutes.
ROWLANDS: Well, we got word that after an investigation, which started Thursday night, the Las Vegas metro police department felt they had enough evidence and came to the Palms Hotel, and arrested O.J. Simpson in his room at the Palms Hotel where he has been for the weekend. He said he was here for a wedding.
He was taken into custody without incident. He was taken through a back entrance away from television cameras that were starting to assemble at the Palms. He is now in custody, we are told, at a police facility here in Las Vegas.
CHO: Ted, I'm curious. You mentioned that he was in town for a wedding. There was at least one report that I read that suggested that wasn't the case at all. In fact, he was just there to go to this hotel room and retrieve those items that he says were rightfully his. Do you believe he was there for the wedding of a friend? ROWLANDS: Yeah, I do. He was -- you know, through conversations I had with him, and I believe actually the wedding was yesterday. I think actually someone had videotape of him at the wedding. There was clearly a wedding involved in the plans.
How the alleged armed robbery fit onto all that, who knows? I'm sure the schedules were altered and this was something planned because by Simpson's own admission, in phone conversations with CNN, these were people that weren't all from the Las Vegas area. According to a source at the police department who is very familiar with this case, at least one of these individuals, one that was arrested last night on his way to the airport is from the state of Arizona. Those people weren't here for a wedding, obviously. There is probably a mix of both theories.
CHO: Right. Ted, you've been doing some great reporting out there in Las Vegas. You talked to Simpson by phone several times. You also talked to the alleged victim in the armed robbery. We have not spoken much about that. At least not in the past hour, what has that man told but his accounts of what happened?
ROWLANDS: Bruce Fromong, was one of the alleged victims. The other was a man by the name of Al Beardsley. Bruce Fromong, basically, says he went to this hotel room because he thought he was going to be able to sell some of his items that pertained to O.J. Simpson.
They were items he had come into possession of over the years. He says that he purchased these items legally. He doesn't know where they originally came from, but that he purchased these items and that he was going to sell them. He had been told there was a high-interest buyer, a high-level buyer. He says there was estimated the worth of the merchandise in that room was about $75,000 to $100,000. He says they sat in the room, were told the buyer had arrived. The next thing you know, he says the door burst open. Four men came barreling into the room. The second man, he says, was waving a pistol. He said the last man in the room was O.J. and he was yelling.
Apparently according to this account, from Bruce Fromong, was screaming at the people involved. He actually stopped for a second, as he acknowledged, that these -- it sounds like O.J. didn't know what to expect when he went into the room. In fact, Simpson told me that, as well. He noticed he knew these guys. It became a strange situation. But according to Fromong, O.J. and his accomplices, alleged accomplices, at gun point took out this memorabilia from the room. Of course, O.J. says that it is complete nonsense. That they went there to get what belonged to Simpson.
CHO: Well, I know, Bruce Fromong has said there was a lot of screaming involved on the part of Simpson, during which he was yelling, "That's mine! That's mine! That's mine!" pointing his fingers while members of his entourage had guns drawn. I know that Simpson, himself, has said at least once that the people who were with him, were just his golfing buddies. There could be as many as four outstanding suspects, what do we know about those men, if anything, Ted? ROWLANDS: We don't know much. Only that they were friends of Simpson to some degree. One person, according to Simpson, was a guy that he never met before, may have been a friend of one of his friends. The two separate accounts, the bottom line here, is it sounds like there was a bit of shadiness going on, on all sides. This hotel room deal, of merchandise that may or may not have been stolen, that belonged to O.J. Simpson. Then O.J. allegedly and four of his buddies come barreling in with guns drawn. The whole thing seems seedy.
But the key here is that the guns were involved and the alleged victims called the police and are alleging that this is what happened. Police, through their investigation, say they found the weapons that were used in this alleged robbery. They moved forward, obviously, to the point where they think they have enough and they arrested O.J. Simpson, knowing full well who he, and the ramifications of bringing him onto your police department in handcuffs.
They said that publicly Friday. They say, listen, we know what we are dealing with here and we know that the world is watching us. We're going to make sure that we get thing right. So, from their perspective, they think they have enough evidence. They have moved forward, and now O.J. Simpson is in custody.
CHO: O.J. Simpson under arrest. Ted Rowlands doing great reporting from Las Vegas for us. Ted, I know we have to let you go to do more digging for us. We want to bring back you here soon. In the meantime, we want to bring back in, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, he's on the phone with us from New York.
Jeffrey, Simpson told the "Los Angeles Time" he had hoped what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas. But from your perspective, was this the only endgame the way you see it? Boy, it looks like we lost Jeffrey Toobin, there. Jeffrey, do we have you?
All right. We are still waiting for Jeffrey Toobin. In the meantime we want to quickly recap what happened in the past 90 minutes, or so. O.J. Simpson, the ex-football star now under arrest in Las Vegas, in police custody. Charges are pending in the Thursday night armed robbery of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel and casino. Simpson has claimed he was just taking back what was rightfully his. We are watching the story very closely. We are going to take a quick break and be right back.
CHO: We want to recap some breaking news that has just developed in the past hour or so. O.J. Simpson, the ex-football star, under arrest in Las Vegas in the Thursday night armed robbery of sports memorabilia in a hotel casino room, there called the Palace.
We have Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst, on the phone with us.
So, Jeffrey, Simpson has spent a lot of time talking on the phone to our very own Ted Rowlands. He talked to "The Los Angeles Times." Why do you suspect this is happening instead of speaking to a lawyer?
TOOBIN: I think it's an extremely stupid decision of O.J. Simpson. I of course, admire the initiative and skill of our colleague Ted Rowlands to be getting to O.J., but this is the strategy that Senator Larry Craig pursued with such disastrous results for himself, trying to handle this without consulting a lawyer.
He had spoken to Ted Rowlands, he has spoken to "The L.A. Times"; he spoke at some length to Linda Deutsche of the Associated Press, a reporter who covered the O.J. Simpson criminal case with all of us, and I know someone Simpson respects a lot.
But all of these statements, Simpson is locking himself in to some version of events that may be contradicted by evidence that comes out. And presumably now that he is in custody he'll get a lawyer. But any lawyer would tell him, as the first order of business, to shut your mouth.
CHO: Well, but isn't this a problem? He's already spoken to Ted Rowlands, told Ted that no guns were involved in this incident on Thursday night. Yet, lo and behold, according to the Associated Press, police have seized two firearms in this case. They've arrested an alleged accomplice. Isn't this a big problem for Simpson going forward?
TOOBIN: Yes, it is a big problem that he's already made all these statements. You can always make a bad situation worse, and you can stop the damage. Certainly, you will just want to stop the damage by stop talking to the police, to the press.
Yeah, it does seem, I think Ted said, that O.J. has been speaking to the Las Vegas police. So there are statements that can be used against him, admissions that can be used perhaps he has contradicted himself. I mean, these are all the reasons why the first thing any lawyer says in a situation like this is stop talking.
O.J. is nothing, if not self-confident, even after all these years. He apparently thought he could talk his way out of this problem, and all he's done is talk himself onto an arrest. We'll see where it goes from here.
CHO: Just a day ago I was sitting in this very place saying the next 48 hours would be critical. Take us through and walk us through the next 48 hours, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Well, the first important milestone will be what are the charges that he's facing? The police will have to make a public statement. They will have to tell Simpson, himself, what the charges are. And then we'll know, is he charged with wielding a gun? Is he charged simply with conspiring to wield a gun? Is he charged with an actual armed robbery? Or is he meant only to be aiding and abetting position? I don't know any of that. But the charges will reveal that.
Then, since he's in custody, he will certainly be assigned a lawyer. Or he will be able to hire one, if he can. At that point, once he's conferred with a lawyer, they'll be an arraignment where a judge or magistrate will set bond. And the interesting question will be, what will be the position of the government? He is obviously a very well-known figure.
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