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The wedding of a close friend brought O.J. Simpson and other men together last year around a Las Vegas hotel-casino pool, where prosecutors allege plans were made for the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers peddling the former football star's mementoes.

Defense lawyers maintain that Simpson was just trying to retrieve personal belongings, family photos and heirlooms that had been stolen from him years ago.

On Wednesday, the jury that heard the prosecution's case against Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart was scheduled to hear from defense witness, Thomas Scotto, the wedding groom for whom Simpson came to Las Vegas to serve as best man.

Scotto, 46, a North Miami Beach, Fla., auto repair shop owner, served as go-between and banker for Simpson after Simpson's arrest Sept. 16, 2007, and again following his re-arrest in January when he was accused of violating terms of his bail release.

Scotto, who was preparing for his wedding, did not accompany Simpson from the Palms resort pool to the alleged armed robbery in a Palace Station casino hotel room. But his name is heard on audio recordings played for the jury during the first 11 days of testimony in the case.

Simpson and Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 criminal charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping. Each man could face five years to life in prison if convicted in the Sept. 13., 2007, confrontation.

The prosecution rested Monday, and the courtroom was dark Tuesday for a scheduled day off. Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass said outside the presence of the jury that closing arguments could come as early as Thursday. The jury would then begin deliberations.

Simpson's lawyers told the judge that Scotto could be their last witness. Outside court, defense lawyers said no decisions had been made whether Simpson or Stewart would testify. Stewart's lawyers said they expect to call several witnesses.

Simpson's defense lawyers brought one of the alleged victims, Alfred Beardsley, back to the witness stand. The sports memorabilia dealer repeated that charges against Simpson should be dropped, and said again that he and Simpson had been "set up" by Thomas Riccio, the collectibles broker who arranged their hotel room meeting.


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