O.J. Simpson told four Nevada parole officers considering whether to let him out of prison that he would “never pull a weapon on anybody” and has basically spent a “conflict-free life.”
“I had some problems with fidelity, but I’ve always been a guy that pretty much got along with everybody,” he said via satellite from Lovelock Correctional Facility, where he has served nearly nine years for an armed robbery in that state.
Because Simpson has had no violations during his nearly nine years in jail, this parole hearing is expected to run along similar lines as his hearing four years ago when he was paroled on some, but not all, of the charges against him. Parole this time would mean he could be released as early as October.
If the Pro Football Hall of Famer and former actor is paroled, the public outrage guaranteed to follow will have nothing to do with what happened 10 years ago in that Vegas hotel room, where Simpson insisted he was merely retrieving memorabilia that had been stolen from him. His stiff nine- to 33-year sentence for that crime is filed under Cosmic Justice for the 1994 deaths of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman.
Simpson forever will be tied to those grisly killings in Brentwood, CA, for which he famously was tried and acquitted in 1995. Exactly 13 years to the date after that acquittal, the former Heisman Trophy winner was found guilty of the robbery at a hotel in Las Vegas, at which a member of the Simpson’s posse pulled a gun.
At today’s widely covered parole hearing, the panel asked Simpson to explain why he was in the hoosegow. During his long-ish explanation of the events leading up to and during the robbery attempt, Simpson continued to apologize for the situation, but there was no full-throated apology for what he did. Simpson was less than an ideal witness on his own behalf, insisting he had ordered no weapons be used by members of his posse, and was not aware a gun was pulled by one of them until he was leaving the scene, because the gun-wielding “security guard” had been standing behind him.
“Nobody ever accused me of puling any weapon on them,” Simpson told board members, unironically. “I would never ever pull a weapon on anybody.”
Simpson said he takes full responsibility for what happened, but clarified that what he did wrong was to have agreed to be accompanied by alleged security personnel. The gun-toting member of his entourage, he said, should have been put in jail, but was, unfortunately, given a “get out of jail free card” by authorities.
Saying he’s “pretty good with people,” the celebrity whose ex-wife repeatedly had called 911 on him said he’d “basically spent a conflict-free life.”
During the hearings a board member held up hundreds of letters they had received about Simpson, a majority of them imploring the board to consider his arrest, trial, and acquittal in 1995 for the murders of Nicole and Ron. “However, these items will not be considered in this case,” he was told.
Simpson also maintained he has “never had an alcohol problem” while acknowledging he had been drinking the day of the botched robbery in Vegas because he had just attended a wedding celebration. “I have never had a substance problem at all,” he added, and was then reminded that at his previous parole hearing he had told them he was attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
ESPN reported OJ was “none too pleased” about the “circus-like atmosphere” that included 11 satellite trucks and more than 100 credentialed media. But that may be part of an effort to avoid looking like someone who thinks this is in the bag as TV legal talking heads have said he needs to do.
On the other hand, Simpson clearly had worked hard to slim way down for today’s hearing, like a starlet in training to fit into her couture gown for the Oscars red carpet.
Kicking off the hearing, Simpson was assured he was getting “the same hearing everyone else gets.” But, owing to the media crowd in attendance who “have not taken advantage of” the parole board’s many other public hearings, they would explain things at greater length to educate media and their viewers.
In his closing remarks, Simpson told the board: “I’ve come here, spent nine years making no excuses. I am sorry things turned out the way they did but I had no intent to commit a crime.
“I told the warden when I got here…that I would be no problem. I believe in the jury system, will honor what jury said, and I will be no problem. I think I kept my word. I’ve done my time. I’d like to get back to my family and friends – believe it or not I do have some real friends. I don’t think any inmate has represented this prison better than I. I did my time and tried to be helpful to everybody.
“I’m sorry it happened, sorry to Nevada. I thought I was going to have to get my stuff back … but nine years wasn’t worth it.”