After serving nearly nine years in prison, a four-person panel voted to grant O.J. Simpson parole as soon as he’s eligible — meaning he will be freed from a Nevada prison as soon as October.
Simpson’s prison sentence is unrelated to the 1994 killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman, of which he was acquitted in 1995. That much more high-profile case returned to public attention last year when two prestigious TV projects dug into the trial and the attention it commanded.
Simpson, 70, was convicted in 2008 on 12 charges of attempted armed robbery and kidnapping stemming from a 2007 confrontation in a Las Vegas casino hotel room over sports memorabilia.
As the New York Times reported at the time, Simpson burst into the hotel room of memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley on September 13, 2007, brandishing a gun. The dealers said they were led to believe someone was coming to browse the goods with the intent to purchase them and were confronted and threatened by Simpson and four other men. According to the Times, Simpson said his intent was to “retrieve” the items on offer, which he said were personal keepsakes and included photos of his family and a ceremonial football.
“I take full responsibility,” Simpson said at the parole hearing, while walking members of the parole board through the events as he saw them.
But some of his comments will likely draw ire from Simpson’s critics, who are still upset that he was acquitted for the murder of his wife and her friend. Simpson insisted, for example, that he “was always a good guy” and had never been accused of assaulting anyone with a weapon.
Simpson also explained that he had taken some steps to rehabilitate himself in prison, including an “alternatives to violence” class. He suggested it should be mandatory to anyone in prison, “because it teaches you how to deal with conflict through conversation.”
Simpson was supported by his daughter and even one of the robbery victims.
Before handing down the decision, members of the parole board said that Simpson is unlikely to reoffend (perhaps in large part due to his age) and has community support. These are the kinds of factors parole boards typically look like — to ensure that someone isn’t likely to commit new crimes once they’re out of prison.
Simpson’s forthcoming release doesn’t mean he’s a totally free man. He will now have to follow certain parole guidelines, while remaining under state supervision. If he violates any of the parole rules, he could be sent back to prison.