The Juice will be loose in October
O.J. Simpson says, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’ as he’s granted parole
O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday 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 football star.
Simpson, 70, could be released as early as Oct. 1. By then, he will have served the minimum of his nine-to-33year sentence for a bungled attempt to snatch sports memorabilia and other mementos he claimed had been stolen from him.
During the hearing, which lasted more than an hour 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 conflict-free 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. As he rose from his seat to return to his prison cell, he exhaled deeply.
Then, as he was led down a hall, the Hall of Fame athlete and murder defendant in the 1995 “Trial of the Century” raised his hands over his head in a victory gesture and “Oh, God, oh!”
Inmate No. 1027820 made his plea for freedom in a stark hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada as the parole commissioners questioned him via video from Carson City, a twohour drive away.
Grey-haired but looking trimmer than he has in recent years, Simpson walked stiffly into the hearing room in jeans, a lightblue prison-issue shirt and sneakers. He chuckled at one said: point as the parole board chairwoman mistakenly gave his age as 90.
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 widely expected to win parole, given similar cases and his good behaviour behind bars. His defenders have argued, too, 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, telling the parole board Simpson deserved to be released so he could be with his family.
“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 recognize that he is not the perfect man.” But she said he has been “a perfect inmate, following all the rules and making the best of the situation.”
“I’ve done my time. I’ve done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can.” O.J. Simpson
“We just want him to come home, we really do,” she said.
Simpson said he has spent his time in prison mentoring fellow inmates, often keeping them out of trouble, and he has become a better person during those years.
“I’ve done my time. I’ve done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can,” he told the board.
Asked if he was confident he could stay out of trouble if released, Simpson replied he learned a lot from an alternative-to-violence course he took in prison and that in any case he has always gotten along well with people.
His remark about his “conflict-free life” instantly lit up social media with incredulous comments.
Several major TV networks and cable channels 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 if released he plans to return to Florida to be near two of his adult children.
O.J. Simpson attends a parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Center Thursday in Nevada. Simpson is serving a nine-to-33-year prison term for a 2007 armed robbery and kidnapping conviction.