OJ Simpson Granted Parole In Nevada Robbery

By Ken Ritter, Associated Press

LOVELOCK, Nev. (AP) — The Latest on O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

O.J. Simpson will be paroled after serving nine years in prison for a botched bid to retrieve sports memorabilia in Las Vegas.

A Nevada parole board decided Thursday that the 70-year-old former football, TV and movie star will be released in October after serving his minimum term for armed robbery and assault with a weapon.

Simpson responded emotionally, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Four parole commissioners in Carson City questioned Simpson by videoconference from the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada. He has been held there since he was convicted in 2008.

The conviction came 13 years to the day after he was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles.

______

LOVELOCK, Nev. (AP) — A gray-haired O.J. Simpson pleaded with a Nevada parole board Thursday to set him free after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel room heist, insisting — as he has all along — that he was only trying to retrieve sports memorabilia and other mementos stolen from him and never meant to hurt anyone.

‘I’ve done my time. I’ve done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can,” the 70-year-old former football star, looking trimmer than he has in recent years, said in a nationally televised hearing that reflected America’s enduring fascination with the case.

Simpson walked briskly into the hearing room dressed in jeans, a light-blue prison-issue shirt and sneakers. He laughed at one point as the parole board chairwoman mistakenly gave his age as 90.

Simpson said he never pointed a gun at anyone nor made any threats during the crime that put him in prison, and he forcefully insisted that nearly all the mementos he saw in two memorabilia dealers’ hotel room belonged to him.

“In no way, shape or form did I wish them any harm,” he added, saying he later made amends with those in the room.

The hearing lasted a little more than an hour, after which the parole board retired to deliberate. It was expected to reach a decision in as little as a half-hour.

A vote in his favor would enable Simpson to get out as early as Oct. 1. By then, he will have served the minimum of his nine-to-33-year armed-robbery sentence.

The Hall of Fame athlete’s chances of winning release were considered good, given similar cases and Simpson’s model behavior behind bars.

His defenders have argued, too, that his sentence was out of proportion to the crime and that he was being punished for the two murders he was acquitted of during his 1995 “Trial of the Century” in Los Angeles, the stabbings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Before the hearing concluded, one of the dealers Simpson robbed, Bruce Fromong, said the former football great never pointed a gun at him during the confrontation, adding that it was one of the men with him who did so. Fromong said Simpson deserved to be released.

“He is a good man. He made a mistake,” Fromong said, adding the two remain friends.

Simpson’s eldest child, 48-year-old Arnelle Simpson, also testified on his behalf, saying her father is not perfect but realizes what a mistake he made and has spent years paying for it.

“We just want him to come home, we really do,” she said.

Simpson said that he has spent his time in prison mentoring fellow inmates, often keeping others out of trouble, and believes he has become a better person during those years.

Asked if he was confident he could stay out of trouble if he’s released, Simpson replied that he learned much during an alternative-to-violence course he took in prison and that in any case he gets along well with people.

“I had basically spent a conflict-free life,” he said — a remark that lit up social media with scornful and sarcastic comments given the murder case and a raft of allegations he abused his wife.

In a final statement to the board he apologized again.

“I’m sorry it happened, I’m sorry, Nevada,” he said. “I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it just wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it and I’m sorry.”

Several major TV networks and cable channels — including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and ESPN — carried the proceedings live, just as some of them did two decades ago during the Ford Bronco chase that ended in Simpson’s arrest, and again when the jury in the murder case came back with its verdict.

Simpson said if released he plans to return to Florida, where he was living before his incarceration.

“I could easily stay in Nevada, but I don’t think you guys want me here,” he joked at one point.

“No comment, sir,” one of the parole board members said.

Inmate No. 1027820 made his plea for freedom in a stark hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada as four parole commissioners in Carson City, a two-hour drive away, questioned him via video. The board was expected to make its decision later in the day.

An electrifying running back dubbed “The Juice,” Simpson won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best college football player in 1968 and went on to become one of the NFL’s all-time greats.

The handsome and charismatic athlete was also a “Monday Night Football” commentator, sprinted through airports in Hertz rental-car commercials and built a Hollywood career with roles in the “Naked Gun” comedies and other movies.

All of that came crashing down with his arrest in the 1994 slayings and his trial, a gavel-to-gavel live-TV sensation that transfixed viewers with its testimony about the bloody glove that didn’t fit and stirred furious debate over racist police, celebrity justice and cameras in the courtroom.

Last year, the case proved to be compelling TV all over again with the ESPN documentary “O.J.: Made in America” and the award-winning FX miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

In 1997, Simpson was found liable in civil court for the two killings and ordered to pay $33.5 million to survivors, including his children and the Goldman family.

Then a decade later, he and five accomplices — two with guns — stormed a hotel room and seized photos, plaques and signed balls, some of which never belonged to Simpson, from two sports memorabilia dealers.

Simpson was convicted in 2008, and the long prison sentence brought a measure of satisfaction to some of those who thought he got away with murder.

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