‘I’VE DONE MY TIME’

O.J. Simp­son granted pa­role af­ter nearly nine years in prison

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - KEN RITTER

O.J. Simp­son was granted pa­role Thurs­day af­ter more than eight years in prison for a Las Ve­gas ho­tel heist, suc­cess­fully mak­ing his case in a na­tion­ally tele­vised hear­ing that re­flected Amer­ica’s en­dur­ing fas­ci­na­tion with the for­mer foot­ball star.

Simp­son, 70, could be a free man as early as Oct. 1. By then, he will have served the min­i­mum of his nine-to-33-year armed-rob­bery sen­tence for a bun­gled at­tempt to snatch sports mem­o­ra­bilia and other me­men­tos he claimed had been stolen from him.

He got the four votes he needed from the pa­role com­mis­sion­ers who heard his case. In agree­ing to re­lease him, they cited his lack of a prior con­vic­tion, the low risk he might com­mit an­other crime, his com­mu­nity sup­port and his re­lease plans.

Dur­ing the more than hour-long hear­ing, Simp­son force­fully in­sisted — as he has all along — that he was only try­ing to re­trieve items that be­longed to him and never meant to hurt any­one. He said he never pointed a gun at any­one nor made any threats dur­ing the crime.

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

In­mate No. 1027820 made his plea for free­dom in a stark hear­ing room at the Lovelock Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in Ne­vada, as four pa­role of­fi­cers in Car­son City, a two-hour drive away, ques­tioned him via video.

Simp­son, grey-haired and trim­mer than he has in re­cent years, walked into the hear­ing room in jeans, a light-blue prison-is­sue shirt and sneak­ers. He laughed at one point as the pa­role board chair mis­tak­enly gave his age as 90.

The Hall of Fame ath­lete’s chances of win­ning re­lease were con­sid­ered good, given sim­i­lar cases and Simp­son’s model be­hav­iour 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 in 1995, the stab­bings of ex-wife Ni­cole Brown Simp­son and her friend Ron­ald Gold­man.

Be­fore the hear­ing con­cluded, one of the deal­ers Simp­son robbed, Bruce Fromong, said the for­mer foot­ball great never pointed a gun at him dur­ing the con­fronta­tion, adding that it was one of the men with him who did so. Fromong said Simp­son de­served to be re­leased.

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

Simp­son’s el­dest child, 48-yearold Ar­nelle Simp­son, also tes­ti­fied on his be­half, say­ing her fa­ther is not per­fect, but re­al­izes what a mis­take he made and has spent years pay­ing for it.

“We just want him to come home, we re­ally do,” she said.

Simp­son said that 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 those years.

Asked if he was con­fi­dent he could stay out of trou­ble if re­leased, Simp­son replied that he learned much dur­ing an al­ter­na­tive-to-vi­o­lence course he took in prison and that in any case he has al­ways got­ten along well with peo­ple.

“I had ba­si­cally spent a con­flict­free life,” he said — a re­mark that lit up so­cial me­dia with scorn­ful and sar­cas­tic com­ments given the mur­der case and a raft of al­le­ga­tions he abused his wife.

In a fi­nal state­ment to the board he apol­o­gized again. “I’m sorry it hap­pened, I’m sorry, Ne­vada,” he said. “I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it just wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it and I’m sorry.”

JA­SON BEAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES

O.J. Simp­son laughs dur­ing his suc­cess­ful pa­role hear­ing Fri­day. He could be out by Oct. 1 and re­turn to Florida.

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