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O.J. makes pitch for parole in '07 robbery

REUTERS
O.J. Simpson is seeking parole on one of the charges of which he was convicted, even though other charges will keep him in jail if the parole board grants his request.

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, July 25, 2013, 5:21 p.m.
 

CARSON CITY, Nev. — O.J. Simpson went before a parole board and pleaded for leniency on his armed robbery and kidnapping sentence Thursday as he expressed regret for his actions and described himself as an upstanding inmate who earns pennies an hour keeping gym equipment sanitized and umpiring and coaching games in the prison yard.

Simpson said he has become a counselor of sorts to fellow inmates doing time for similar crimes and noted that he has made amends with his victims in a botched 2007 heist of memorabilia in a hotel room in Las Vegas.

“I just wish I never went to that room,” the 66-year-old Simpson said during a 15-minute appearance.

Parole officials did not immediately rule on his request, which Simpson made remotely from a video conference room in Lovelock Correction Center. But their decision will have little impact on his overall sentence because he is eligible for parole on only one of his consecutive sentences. As a result, even if the Nevada Parole Board rules in his favor, he then would begin serving sentences attached to other charges and spend at least another four years in prison.

His best chance for freedom lies with a pending decision by a Las Vegas judge on whether to grant him a new trial based on claims that his trial lawyer botched his defense and had a conflict of interest in the case. Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell held a weeklong hearing in May on the issue that featured testimony from Simpson.

At the parole hearing, Simpson provided a glimpse of his time in prison since he was sentenced to nine to 33 years behind bars. He said he has given counsel to other inmates who come to him with their issues. But he said he shouldn't be compared with other inmates.

“The difference between all of their crimes and mine is, they were trying to steal other people's property,” he said. “They were trying to steal other people's money.

“My crime was trying to retrieve for my family my own property,” he said, mentioning how he has missed his children, graduations and his sister's funeral. “Make no mistake, I would give it all back to these guys. They can have it all to get these five years of my life back.”

He told the two-member parole panel that he has spoken at length with Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong — the two dealers targeted in the holdup. He acknowledged that he was “not as civil as I should have been” while trying to regain the property.

“I knew both of these guys who had my stuff,” Simpson said. “I am sorry for what has happened. ... I've apologized. They've apologized.”

He was the only person to speak on his behalf. No victims spoke.

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