OJ Simpson speaks out during parole hearing for Vegas robbery
ABC News(LOVELOCK, Nev.) — At O.J. Simpson’s parole hearing in Nevada Thursday, he told the board of the botched robbery at a Las Vegas hotel room that landed him in prison, “I wasn’t there to steal from anybody.”
If he’s granted parole on Thursday, he could be a free man later this year.
Simpson, 70, is appearing remotely via video conference from Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada, where he’s serving time for kidnapping and armed robbery.
Dressed in a blue button-down shirt, Simpson was smiling and appeared in good spirits as the hearing started.
Simpson explained what he said led to crime, telling the board how he learned that some of his personal mementos were in Las Vegas and “some guys” were trying to “fence my property.”
“As a perfect storm we all ended up in Las Vegas, you know? I was there for a wedding and [a friend] told me that the property was there,” he said.
He later continued, “I said, ‘Of course I would like to get the property.’ He told me the names of what he thought were the people in the room, and I realized these are friends of mine. You know? Actually guys who helped me move, helped me move and store some of this stuff.”
Simpson explained, “When I came into the [hotel] room I noticed spread out everywhere was my personal property. The only thing I saw that was on display that wasn’t mine was some baseballs, and I made it clear to everybody those are not mine. All I want is my property.”
Simpson’s fate will be determined and announced later Thursday.
The commissioners will consider items including: his conduct in prison, participation in prison programs, potential letter of support and an assessment of the risk of re-offending.
He needs four votes from commissioners to get paroled.
Four commissioners will deliberate in Carson City; if they are unanimous, that will become the final decision.
If the panel splits in any way, they will stop the voting and call in via phone two additional commissioners who will be on standby in Las Vegas so the voting can resume.
If the deliberation moves to six commissioners, four of them must grant parole for Simpson to be released.
If the parole board is split evenly, the board has established a policy to deny parole for six months, and a subsequent hearing will be held in January 2018.
If the former football star is granted parole on Thursday, his earliest possible release date would be Oct. 1.
If he is not granted parole, commissioners will decide the date of the next parole board meeting, which could be as far away as five years.
Simpson’s football career took him from the University of Southern California to the Buffalo Bills. Following his retirement, his celebrity status catapulted him to movie stardom and a cushy Brentwood, California, mansion.
More than 20 years ago, Simpson went on trial for the killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The two were found on June 12, 1994, stabbed to death at her Los Angeles home. On Oct. 3, 1995, at the end of a televised trial that captivated the nation, Simpson was acquitted of all criminal charges. He has always maintained his innocence.
A civil jury later ordered Simpson to pay $33.5 million in damages after finding him liable for wrongful death in the double murder.
Simpson is in prison following an arrest in 2007 during a botched robbery in Las Vegas, when he led a group of men into a hotel and casino to steal sports memorabilia at gunpoint. The former football star contended the memorabilia and other personal items belonged to him.
He was charged with a number of felony counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery. He was found guilty and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.
His bid for a new trial in the case was rejected in 2013, but he was granted parole that same year on some of the charges, based on good behavior. He was not released from prison at that time, since his prison sentences were set to run consecutively. Simpson had to wait until this year to appear again before the parole board.
Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto, told ABC News that Simpson is “hopeful.” Scotto said if Simpson is freed, he would want “to just keep a low profile, be with his kids, be with his family, play golf.”
Hours before the parole hearing, Ron Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America, “What’s troubling to me is not only him, but the whole system gives second chances to violent felons or, for that matter, anyone in jail. … Ron doesn’t get a second chance.”
“Ron never gets to spend his life doing what he wanted to do,” Fred Goldman continued. “We’ll never get to share his life, and the killer will walk free and get to do whatever he wants.”
Fred Goldman said the parole board should take into account that Simpson was found liable for the killings in the 1997 civil trial.
“I think his whole history of violence, ignoring the law, no respect for the law, no remorse for virtually anything he’s ever done is an indication of who he is as a person,” Fred Goldman said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to think that he’s going to be a decent human being in society. I think he’s proved otherwise.”
Added Ron Goldman’s sister, Kim Goldman, “We lived our life with [Simpson] walking the streets and sharing the same roads that we did.”
“With him being locked up in Lovelock, it’s been a chance for us to kind of reclaim some control over our life and have some glimpse of sanity,” she said. “I’m preparing myself for that to be changing come October.”
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