ShareThis Page
News

O.J. Simpson granted parole in Nevada robbery

| Thursday, July 20, 2017, 1:00 p.m.
Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson appears via video for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017.  Simpson was convicted in 2008 of enlisting some men he barely knew, including two who had guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.
Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson appears via video for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Simpson was convicted in 2008 of enlisting some men he barely knew, including two who had guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.

LOVELOCK, Nev. — 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.”

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 mementos stolen from him and never meant to hurt anyone.

The former football star, looking trimmer than he has in recent years, 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, 70, 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 memorabilia he saw in two 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.

He said 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 his time behind bars. He said he took an alternative-to-violence course in prison.

‘I've done my time,” he said. “I've done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can.”

A vote in his favor enables 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.

Reflecting America's enduring fascination with Simpson, several major TV networks and cable channels — including ABC, 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 most of the objects taken in the hotel heist were personal property, including letters from celebrities, family photos, certificates of accomplishment and more. Items that were not his, including autographed baseballs, were taken by others in the rush to get out of the room, he said.

He added he realizes he made a terrible mistake bringing along two people with guns, adding if he had gone to the room by himself he could have resolved the matter without a problem.

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.

One of the dealers robbed, Bruce Fromong, planned to attend the parole hearing, saying he and Simpson had made amends and that he intended to speak in favor of release.

A Goldman family spokesman said Goldman's father and sister, Fred and Kim, would not be part of the hearing and feel apprehensive about “how this will change their lives again should Simpson be released.”

The now-retired district attorney who prosecuted Simpson for the heist, David Roger, has denied Simpson's sentence was “payback” for his murder acquittal. He has also said that if Simpson behaved in prison, he should get parole.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me