OJ Simpson granted parole and will leave prison in October

Former NFL star and actor acquitted of murder but later jailed for robbery, assault

OJ Simpson will be released from prison in October after serving nine years for a botched robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room. Video: Reuters

 

OJ Simpson has been granted parole after serving nine years of a prison sentence for his role in a 2007 armed robbery in Las Vegas.

In a scheduled hearing, a four-member parole board in Nevada ruled that the former NFL star and actor would be released in October.

Simpson was famously tried for a double-murder in 1995 but was ultimately acquitted. The court case, which was televised live on cable television, captivated viewers across the US and wider world. Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ron Goldman were murdered at her home in 1994.

A civil case brought by the Brown and Goldman families in 1997 found Simpson was responsible for both deaths and he was ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families of the victims, including his children.

He was convicted in 2008 over his role in a botched robbery in a hotel in Las Vegas a year earlier and was sentenced to 33 years in prison, with eligibility for parole after nine years.

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.

Announcing the decision to grant parole today, the lead parole commissioner in Nevada said: “Mr Simpson, you organised this crime. It was a serious crime and there is no excuse for it. You deserved to be sent to prison.”

However, he said Simpson had complied with the rules of the prison over the previous nine years and had “no prior conviction of criminal activity” and was at low risk of re-offending.

‘Thank you’

An emotional Simpson responded to the news by saying: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

He will continue to serve his sentence until his release in October.

During his representation to the appeals board, Simpson said he had lived a “conflict-free life”.

“In no way, shape or form did I wish them any harm,” he said of those affected by the robbery and assault, adding that he later made amends with the victims.

“I wish it would have never happened. I’m not a guy who has conflicts on the street... I’m a guy who’s pretty much got along with everybody,” Simpson said. “I’ve done my time. I’d just like to get back to my family and friends.I’m sorry it happened. I’m sorry to Nevada ... I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it wasn’t worth it.”

Simpson’s daughter, Arnelle, also made a plea for her father to be allowed home, while Bruce Fromong, the only surviving victim of the 2007 armed robbery, testified in support of Simpson.

He said he believed that Simpson had already served too much time for the crime.

Hall of Fame

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

His representatives argued 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 over the Brown Simpson and Goldman killings.

Several major US 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 1994 police chase in which Simpson travelled in a Ford Bronco which resulted in his arrest over the killings at his wife’s home.

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 charismatic athlete was also a Monday Night Football commentator, sprinted through airports in Hertz rental car adverts and built a Hollywood career with roles in the Naked Gun comedies and other films.

Last year, the murder case case proved to be compelling TV all over again with the ESPN documentary OJ: Made In America and the award-winning FX mini-series The People V OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.

(additional reporting - PA)