WORLD Cam­eras roll as OJ wins free­dom

Townsville Bulletin - - WORLD -

OJ SIMP­SON has been granted pa­role af­ter more than eight years in prison for a Las Ve­gas ho­tel- room heist, suc­cess­fully mak­ing his case for free­dom in a na­tion­ally tele­vised hear­ing that re­flected Amer­ica’s en­dur­ing fas­ci­na­tion with the for­mer grid­iron star.

Simp­son, 70, ( pic­tured) could be re­leased as early as Oc­to­ber 1, by which time he’ll have served the min­i­mum of his nine- to- 33- year sen­tence for a bun­gled at­tempt to snatch sports mem­o­ra­bilia and other me­men­tos he claimed had been stolen from him.

Dur­ing the more than hour­long hear­ing on live TV, Simp­son was, by turns, re­morse­ful, jovial and de­fen­sive, heat­edly in­sist­ing the items taken in the armed rob­bery were “my stuff”. At one point, he set off a storm of sar­casm and mock­ery on so­cial me­dia when he said: “I’ve ba­si­cally spent a con­flict­free life, you know.”

All four pa­role com­mis­sion­ers who con­ducted the hear­ing voted for his re­lease af­ter a half- hour of de­lib­er­a­tions. They cited, among other things, the low risk he might com­mit an­other crime, his com­mu­nity sup­port and his re­lease plans, which in­clude mov­ing to Florida.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Simp­son said qui­etly as he buried his head on his chest with re­lief.

The mur­der de­fen­dant in the 1995 “Trial of the Cen­tury” made his plea for free­dom in a stark hear­ing room at the Love­lock Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre in ru­ral Ne­vada as the pa­role com­mis­sion­ers ques­tioned him via video from Car­son City.

At the hear­ing, Simp­son in­sisted he never meant to hurt any­one, never pointed a gun and didn’t make any threats dur­ing the holdup of two sports mem­o­ra­bilia deal­ers.

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

Simp­son was ex­pected to win pa­role, given sim­i­lar cases and his good be­hav­iour be­hind bars. His de­fend­ers have ar­gued his sen­tence was out of pro­por­tion to the crime and he was be­ing pun­ished for the two mur­ders he was ac­quit­ted of in Los An­ge­les in 1995, the stab­bings of ex- wife Ni­cole Brown Simp­son and her friend Ron­ald Gold­man.

Even one of the deal­ers Simp­son robbed, Bruce Fromong, tes­ti­fied on his be­half.

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

Ar­nelle Simp­son, at 48 the el­dest of Simp­son’s four chil­dren, told the board: “We just want him to come home.”

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