21 Jul 2017

OJ Simpson granted parole after nine years in jail

7:11 am on 21 July 2017

Former US football star and actor OJ Simpson has been granted parole by the Nevada Parole Board.

OJ Simpson at his parole hearing in Nevada.

OJ Simpson, 70, at his parole hearing in Nevada Photo: AFP

Simpson, 70, told the parole board "I've done my time" as he asked for release after nine years in prison in the state.

He was acquitted of double murder in 1995, and has been serving time for armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and 11 other charges.

The sentence, which carries a maximum of 33 years, stems from a 2007 confrontation at a Las Vegas hotel. The former Hall of Fame running back was found guilty in 2008 - exactly 13 years to the day after he was famously acquitted of the killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

In 2007, Simpson and a group of five others stormed into a hotel room to confront two sports-memorabilia collectors to seize items that he claimed belonged to him from his own career.

Simpson had said he was only trying to reclaim his possessions.

The hearing for Prisoner 1027820 happened at the Lovelock Correctional Facility, a medium security prison in the Nevada desert.

"Mr Simpson, you are getting the same hearing that everyone else gets," a parole panellist, Connie Bisbee, told him as today's hearing began.

"Sure," he replied, with a shrug and a smile. "Thank you, ma'am."

Simpson told parole officials that the objects he took from the Las Vegas hotel room were later ruled by officials to legally belong to him.

One panellist asked: "So you believe that the property was yours?"

"It's been ruled legally by the state of California," Simpson responded.

He said the belongings, which he described as images of his family and friends, were later handed over to him by officials.

"It's kind of mind-boggling that they turned over to me property that I'm in jail for, for trying to retrieve."

'Time to give him a second chance'

Bruce Fromong, who one of Simpson's victims in the robbery, testified in favour of his release.

"I've known OJ for a long time," said Mr Fromong. "I don't feel that he's a threat to anyone ... He's a good man. It's time to give him a second chance. It's time for him to go home to his family, his friends."

Simpson appeared to dab a tear during Mr Fromong's testimony.

Another panellist asked him if he had completed a specific self-improvement course since his last parole hearing.

He said he had not, but that he had taken another course called "alternative to violence".

"I think it's the most important course anybody in this prison can take because it teaches you how to deal with conflict through conversation," he said.

"I've spent a conflict-free life," he continued, when asked if he had completed an anti-violence course.

Simpson also told the commissioners he had helped establish a Baptist prayer event, adding: "I could have been a better Christian."

The prisoner also rejected the suggestion that he had an alcohol problem.

"I've done my time," he said. "I've done it as well and as respectfully as anybody can. I think if you talk to the wardens they'll tell you.

"I've not complained for nine years. All I've done is try to be helpful… and that's the life I've tried to live because I want to get back to my kids and family."

In 2013 the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners granted him parole on some of his convictions, but not for the more violent charges.

The prisoner's daughter, Arnelle Simpson, choked up as she told the parole board: "My experience with him is that he's like my best friend and my rock.

"As a family we recognise that he is not the perfect man, but he's clearly a man and a father who's done his best to behave in a way that speaks to his overall nature and character, which is always to be positive, no matter what."

She added: "He is remorseful, he truly is remorseful."

The board, which normally takes days to make a decision, went behind closed doors to deliberate and announced their decision immediately.

Simpson is set to be released in October.

- BBC / Reuters