Name of another witness emerges in Simpson case
By Ken Ritter
LAS VEGAS — The name of another possible witness surfaced Thursday in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery case — a limousine driver who took a picture of the former football star with a key witness hours before a confrontation over Simpson memorabilia.
Lawyers for Simpson and co-defendants Charles Ehrlich and Clarence "C.J." Stewart complained they hadn’t received copies of reports of police interviews with the previously undisclosed witness, Lowell Katz.
Collectibles broker Thomas Riccio, who arranged O.J. Simpson’s ill-fated Sept. 13 meeting with two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room, mentioned Katz in a book released Monday. The book also includes a photo Katz snapped of Riccio and Simpson that day in Simpson’s hotel room at the Palms hotel-casino.
"I was just there to meet with (Simpson) and take a picture," Katz, 44, said Tuesday when asked during a brief telephone interview about the meeting. "That was the only time I ever met him."
Katz was not present several hours later, when Simpson, Riccio and five other men confronted the sports memorabilia dealers at the Palace Station casino hotel in an encounter that spawned felony charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery against Simpson, Ehrlich and Stewart.
Each of the three men has pleaded not guilty. A conviction on the most serious charge — kidnapping — carries a possible sentence of life in prison with parole. A robbery conviction would carry mandatory prison time.
Simpson maintains he was retrieving items that belonged to him and that no guns were involved. But Riccio, who got immunity from prosecution, and three former co-defendants who took plea deals and testified for the prosecution and said there was at least one gun in the room.
Katz said he didn’t have much to tell Las Vegas police detectives who interviewed him some time after a three-day preliminary hearing in November.
Police became interested after Riccio, one of eight witnesses to testify at the hearing, appeared to avoid providing Katz’s name despite questioning by defense attorneys.
Defense attorneys told Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass they want to know more about Katz, details of what he told police and why Riccio wouldn’t say Katz’s name during the preliminary hearing.
"We don’t have anything about Mr. Katz," said John Moran Jr., who represents Ehrlich.
The judge told prosecutor Chris Owens to provide relevant materials to the defense. She also set a May 22 status check in the case, and said she intends to stick with a Sept. 8 trial date.