LOS ANGELES, Nov 14 (Reuters) O.J. Simpson, the football star-turned-actor who was acquitted of double murder in 1995, was ordered to stand trial in what prosecutors say was the armed robbery in Las Vegas of his own memorabilia from apair of collectors.
Las Vegas Judge Joe Bonaventure yesterday ordered Simpson, 60, and two other men to stand trial on 12 charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery, in the Sept. 13 incident at the Palace Palace Station Hotel and Casino.
Bonaventure set the trial for Simpson, Clarence Stewart and Charles Ehrlich to begin on Nov. 28, although that date will almost certainly be pushed back. In doing so, he rejected defense requests to dismiss the charges.
Prosecutors say Simpson led five accomplices in stealing the memorabilia at gunpoint from Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.
Walter Alexander, Charles Cashmore and Michael McClinton were also charged in the case initially but agreed to plead guilty and testify for the prosecution.
Both Alexander and McClinton told the court during the hearing that Simpson asked them to bring guns to the Palace Station, just off the Las Vegas strip, to intimidate Fromong andBeardsley.
Defense lawyers asked Bonaventure to dismiss the charges, saying that Simpson went to the hotel room only to recover his own stolen belongings and did not have a gun.
Another man who was with Simpson during the incident, Thomas Riccio, testified last week that the former star running back made no mention of guns while helping plan the incident and was bent on retrieving his stolen property.
The defendants could potentially be sentenced to life in prison if they are convicted on all charges at a trial, although legal experts said they could also face considerably less time.
Simpson, who parlayed his fame as an athlete into a career in Hollywood, was acquitted of the June 12, 1994, murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman after the sensational trial that transfixed much of the world.
A civil court jury later found Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay 33.5 million dollaaars in damages to the victims' families, a judgment that remains largely unpaid.
Reuters RC VP0620