Inmate No. 1027820 to plead for freedom
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.”