OJ Simp­son says that ‘life is fine’ af­ter prison

It has been 25 years since the slay­ings of Ni­cole Brown Simp­son and Ronald Gold­man

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By LINDA DEUTSCH The As­so­ci­ated Press

LOS ANGELES — Twenty-five years af­ter the grisly killings that trans­formed him from Hall of Fame foot­ball hero to mur­der sus­pect, 71year-old O.J. Simp­son says he is happy and healthy liv­ing in Las Ve­gas, plays golf nearly ev­ery day and stays in touch with his chil­dren.

“Life is fine,” Simp­son re­cently told The As­so­ci­ated Press in a tele­phone in­ter­view from his home.

He added that nei­ther he nor his chil­dren want to talk about June 12, 1994, the night his ex-wife Ni­cole Brown Simp­son and her friend Ronald Gold­man were stabbed to death. Simp­son was ul­ti­mately ac­quit­ted of the crime in what came to be known as “The Trial of the Cen­tury.”

“We don’t need to go back and re­live the worst day of our lives,” he said as Wednesday’s anniversar­y of the killings ap­proached. “The sub­ject of the mo­ment is the sub­ject I

will never re­visit again. My fam­ily and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no neg­a­tive zone.’ We fo­cus on the pos­i­tives.”

Rel­a­tives of the two vic­tims are dis­gusted Simp­son is able to live the way he does while their loved ones had their lives cut short so tragically.

“I don’t suf­fo­cate in my grief,” Gold­man’s sis­ter, Kim, told the AP in an in­ter­view. “But ev­ery mile­stone that my kid hits, ev­ery mile­stone that I hit, you know, those are just re­minders of what I’m not able to share with my brother and what he is miss­ing out on.”

She won­ders if Simp­son is fol­low­ing con­di­tions of his pa­role.

“Yeah, I hear he’s liv­ing the life of Ri­ley out there in Las Ve­gas, be­ing treated like a king,” Gold­man said sar­cas­ti­cally. But she added she rarely thinks of him un­less some­one brings up his name.

Ni­cole Brown Simp­son’s sis­ters Tanya and Denise did not re­spond to email or phone mes­sages.

Ron Gold­man, then 25, was re­turn­ing a pair of sun­glasses that Ni­cole Brown Simp­son’s mother had left at a restau­rant where he worked when he and Simp­son’s ex-wife were stabbed and slashed dozens of times. Simp­son’s tele­vised trial lasted nearly a year and be­came a na­tional ob­ses­sion, fraught with is­sues of racism, po­lice mis­con­duct, celebrity and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Rep­re­sented by a le­gal “Dream Team” that included John­nie Cochran Jr. and F. Lee Bai­ley, he was ac­quit­ted by a jury in 1995 in a verdict that split the coun­try along racial lines, with many white Amer­i­cans be­liev­ing he got away with mur­der and many black peo­ple con­sid­er­ing him in­no­cent.

He has con­tin­ued to de­clare his in­no­cence. The mur­der case is of­fi­cially listed as un­solved.

The vic­tims’ fam­i­lies sub­se­quently filed a civil suit against him, and in 1997 he was or­dered to pay $33.5 mil­lion for the wrong­ful deaths of the two vic­tims. Some of his prop­erty was seized and auc­tioned, but most of the judg­ment has not been paid.

He later served nine years in prison for rob­bery and kid­nap­ping over an at­tempt to steal back some of his sports mem­o­ra­bilia from a Las Ve­gas ho­tel room. He in­sisted his con­vic­tion and sen­tence were un­fair but said: “I be­lieve in the le­gal sys­tem and I hon­ored it. I served my time.”

For a man who once lived for the spot­light, Simp­son has gen­er­ally kept a low pro­file since his re­lease from prison in Oc­to­ber 2017.

The knees that helped him run to foot­ball glory at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and with the NFL’s Buf­falo Bills have been re­placed, and he re­cently had Lasik surgery on his eyes.

His pa­role of­fi­cer has given him permission to take short trips, in­clud­ing to Florida, where his two younger chil­dren, Justin and Syd­ney, have built ca­reers in real es­tate. His older daughter, Ar­nelle, lives with him much of the time.

He also vis­ited rel­a­tives in Louisiana, he said, and spoke to a group of black judges and pros­e­cu­tors in New Or­leans.

Af­ter he got out of prison in Ne­vada, many ex­pected him to re­turn to Florida, where he had lived for sev­eral years. But

friends in Las Ve­gas per­suaded him to stay there.

“The town has been good to me,” Simp­son said. “Ev­ery­body I meet seems to be apol­o­giz­ing for what hap­pened to me here.”

A month af­ter his re­lease, an out­ing to a steak­house and lounge off the Las Ve­gas Strip ended in a dis­pute. Simp­son was or­dered off the prop­erty and barred from re­turn­ing. No such problems have oc­curred since, and Simp­son is among the most sought-af­ter fig­ures in town for self­ies with those who en­counter him at restau­rants or ath­letic events he at­tends oc­ca­sion­ally.

But the glamor of his early life is just a memory. Af­ter his foot­ball ca­reer, Simp­son be­came a com­mer­cial pitch­man, ac­tor and foot­ball com­men­ta­tor. Once a mul­ti­mil­lion­aire, most of his for­tune was spent de­fend­ing him­self from the mur­der charges.

Simp­son de­clined to discuss his fi­nances other than to say he lives on pen­sions.

To co­in­cide with Wednesday’s anniversar­y, Kim Gold­man will launch a 10-week pod­cast, “Con­fronting: O.J. Simp­son,” in which she will in­ter­view her brother’s friends, the de­tec­tive who in­ves­ti­gated the killings, at­tor­neys for the de­fense and pros­e­cu­tion, and two of the 12 ju­rors who ac­quit­ted Simp­son.

She will con­tinue to make the case that Simp­son was guilty.

Linda Deutsch is a re­tired spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent for The As­so­ci­ated Press. She cov­ered all of Simp­son’s le­gal cases dur­ing her 48-year ca­reer as a Los Angeles-based trial re­porter.

Los Angeles Daily News / MYUNG J. CHUN photo via AP

O.J. Simp­son re­acts as he is found not guilty in the death of his ex-wife Ni­cole Brown Simp­son and her friend Ron Gold­man in Los Angeles. De­fense at­tor­neys F. Lee Bai­ley (left) and John­nie L. Cochran Jr. stand with him. Cochran, Simp­son’s flam­boy­ant lead at­tor­ney, died of brain can­cer in 2005 at 68. His re­frain to ju­rors that “If it doesn’t fit, you must ac­quit” sought to un­der­score that the bloody gloves found at Simp­son’s home and the crime scene were too small for foot­ball legend when he tried them on in court.

Di­dier J. Fabien photo via AP

O.J. Simp­son poses last week in the gar­den of his Las Ve­gas area home. Af­ter 25 years liv­ing un­der the shadow of one of the na­tion’s most no­to­ri­ous mur­der cases, Simp­son says his life now is fine.

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