O.J. Simpson Granted Parole

Jul 20, 2017
Originally published on July 21, 2017 7:49 am

A Nevada parole board has granted O.J. Simpson parole from prison after he served nearly nine years following a conviction on armed robbery and other charges.

On Thursday, the four-person panel unanimously voted to grant parole. The parole board said that Oct. 1 is the earliest the former NFL star is eligible for release.

NPR's Ina Jaffe walked us through the incident that led to his conviction:

"[H]e was convicted of a botched 2007 burglary in a cheap Las Vegas hotel. Along with a handful of accomplices, the former star broke into the room of a couple of sports memorabilia dealers. They had some items that Simpson believed belonged to him and that he wanted back. A couple of guys with Simpson brought guns.

"Simpson was later convicted on 12 criminal counts including armed robbery, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to nine to 33 years."

Speaking to the parole board, Simpson stressed that he has been a model inmate during his time at the Lovelock Correctional Center. He says he took a course on nonviolence and has routinely stepped in to mediate conflicts between inmates.

"I've spent nine years making no excuses about anything," he said. "I'm sorry things that things turned out the way they did. I had no intent to commit a crime." He said he promised the warden when he arrived at the prison that he would be "no problem, and I think I kept my word." He added: "I don't think any inmate has ever represented [the prison] better than I."

Simpson's daughter Arnelle and a victim of the robbery Bruce Fromong spoke in favor of his parole.

Fromong said that during the trial, he recommended that Simpson serve one to three years and described the sentence he received as "way too long." Fromong says he has been friends with Simpson for almost 20 years. He added: "It's time to give him a second chance. It's time for him to go home to his family and friends."

O.J. Simpson was acquitted in 1995 in the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. As Ina reported, "opinions on the verdict broke down largely along racial lines. Many African-Americans believed that the verdict was fair, but most whites thought he'd gotten away with murder."

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

O.J. Simpson will soon be a free man. He spent almost nine years in a Nevada prison on armed robbery and other charges. And then yesterday, the Nevada parole board decided it is safe to let him out. Here's NPR's Ina Jaffe.

INA JAFFE, BYLINE: O.J. Simpson was convicted of a dozen criminal counts, including armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. But at his parole hearing, he presented himself as a peacemaker. The former football star and actor said he'd become a better Christian, that he'd kept his promise to the warden to cause no trouble and that he helped other inmates do the same.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

O J SIMPSON: You know, we've had our share of fights here. And as I said, I've been called in sometimes to try to keep guys from fighting. And you have groups...

JAFFE: The parole board met in Carson City. Simpson joined them via video link from the Lovelock Correctional Center more than a hundred miles away. He looked nothing like the guy who was accused and then acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman more than two decades ago. He's 70 years old now, and his hair is more salt than pepper. He seemed alternately confident and anxious when he spoke on his own behalf. There were even flashes of humor.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMPSON: I would just like to get back to my family and friends. And believe it or not, I do have some real friends.

JAFFE: One of them is Bruce Fromong, an old friend, but also one of Simpson's victims in the botched robbery that landed him in prison. At the hearing, Fromong testified in favor of Simpson's release. He said they'd long since reconciled.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRUCE FROMONG: This is a good man. He made a mistake. And if he called me tomorrow and said, Bruce, I'm getting out, will you pick me up - Juice, I'll be here tomorrow for you. I mean that, buddy.

JAFFE: Simpson will not be getting out tomorrow. The earliest he would be released is October 1. The parole board noted that Simpson was never disciplined while in prison, and board member Connie Bisbee warned him that he'd better follow every parole regulation on the outside as scrupulously as he'd followed prison rules.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CONNIE BISBEE: Our expectation would be that you not violate even the simplest condition of parole.

JAFFE: Simpson will remain on parole until September 29, 2022. He can support himself with a substantial pension from the NFL. He's expected to move to Florida to be near his two youngest children. Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ATMOSPHERE SONG, "ARTHUR'S SONG") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.