September 16, 2008 / 2:01 AM / 10 years ago

Key witness returns to stand in O.J. Simpson case

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - A key witness in O.J. Simpson’s kidnap and robbery trial returned to the stand on Tuesday, a day after he left court clutching his chest and complaining of dizziness.

Defendant O.J. Simpson appears in court for the opening day of his trial on September 15, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Simpson is charged with a total of twelve counts including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon stemming from an alleged incident involving the theft of his sports memorabilia. REUTERS/Jae C. Hong/Pool

Bruce Fromong, a sports dealer who says Simpson and five accomplices robbed him of memorabilia worth thousands of dollars at the Palace Station hotel and casino last September, apologized to the court as he resumed his testimony.

Fromong, who has suffered four heart attacks and was described as “medically fragile” by his attorney, was being cross-examined by a defense attorney on Monday when he appeared to become ill, clutching at his chest and head.

He was helped from the courtroom by a bailiff and treated in a hallway by paramedics for dizziness and overheating.

The first witness to testify in a case that could send Simpson to prison for life, Fromong testified on Monday that the former football star burst into the hotel room with his sidekicks, shouting about “stolen stuff” before leaving with the memorabilia crammed into pillow cases.

“When he first came through the door he stopped, then he proceeded into the room and started hollering at everyone,” said Fromong, who has known Simpson since before his famous Los Angeles murder trial and has helped sell memorabilia.

O.J. Simpson (C) and his attorneys Gabriel Grasso (L) and Yale Galanter are seen in court during his trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, September 16, 2008. Simpson faces 12 charges including felony, kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy. REUTERS/Daniel Gluskoter/Pool

“He was just yelling about how this is his stuff, how could you steal my stuff, I thought you were an OK guy, how could you steal my s—-,” Fromong said. “He said: ‘Don’t let anybody leave this room, nobody gets out of here.”‘

Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman were stabbed and slashed to death on June 12, 1994. Simpson’s year-long murder trial transfixed much of the world before a Los Angeles jury found him not guilty.

A civil court jury later found Simpson responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families, a judgment that remains largely unpaid.

Of the six original defendants in the Las Vegas case, four have agreed to plead guilty and testify against Simpson.

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Simpson and his remaining co-defendant, Charles “CJ” Stewart, could face life in prison if they are convicted on the dozen charges against them.

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