In­mate No. 1027820 to plead for free­dom

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ken Ritter

LOVE­LOCK, NEV.» O.J. Simp­son once thrilled crowds as he ran for touch­downs and hur­dled air­port seats in car ren­tal ads to achieve Hol­ly­wood celebrity be­fore he was ac­quit­ted of mur­der in the 1995 “trial of the cen­tury” in Los An­ge­les.

Now, an ag­ing Simp­son will ap­pear as in­mate No. 1027820 in a starkly plain hear­ing room in a re­mote Ne­vada prison Thurs­day to plead for his free­dom. He has spent more than eight years be­hind bars for armed rob­bery and as­sault with a weapon af­ter try­ing to take back sports mem­o­ra­bilia in a bud­get ho­tel room in Las Ve­gas.

Simp­son, 70, will ask four pa­role board mem­bers who sided with him once be­fore to re­lease him in Oc­to­ber, a likely pos­si­bil­ity with his clean prison record.

It will be a stun­ning scene for a charis­matic star once known as “The Juice” who won the Heis­man Tro­phy as the best U.S. col­lege foot­ball player in 1968 and was en­shrined in the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame in 1985.

He ap­peared to have it all. Simp­son went on to star in Hertz com­mer­cials and movies like the “Naked Gun” come­dies and a com­men­ta­tor in the booth for “Mon­day Night Foot­ball” be­fore his sec­ond wife, Ni­cole Brown Simp­son, and her friend Ronald Gold- man were slain in 1994.

Simp­son is ex­pected to re­it­er­ate that he has kept a prom­ise to stay out of trou­ble, coaches in the prison gym where he works and coun­sels other in­mates.

“I guess, my age, guys come to me,” Simp­son told pa­role of­fi­cials four years ago.

The same com­mis­sion­ers granted him pa­role on some of his 12 charges in 2013, leav­ing him with four years to serve be­fore reach­ing his min­i­mum term.

At Simp­son’s side in his bid for free­dom will be lawyer Mal­colm LaVergne, close friend Tom Scotto, sis­ter Shirley Baker and daugh­ter Ar­nelle Simp­son.

O.J. Simp­son is ex­pected to ex­plain what he would do and where he would live if he is granted pa­role af­ter reach­ing the nine-year min­i­mum of his 33-year sen­tence.

He was con­victed in 2008 af­ter en­list­ing some men he barely knew, in­clud­ing two with guns, to re­trieve from two sports col­lectibles sell­ers some items that Simp­son said were stolen from him a decade ear­lier.

“My crime was try­ing to re­trieve for my fam­ily my own prop­erty,” Simp­son told the pa­role of­fi­cials in 2013 be­fore apol­o­giz­ing.

“Make no mis­take, I would give it all back,” he said, “to get these last five years back.”

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