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OJ Simpson makes case for prison parole in Nevada

OJ seated beside his lawyerImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Simpson could be free by October if approved for parole

Former US football star and actor OJ Simpson is appearing before a parole board to ask to be released after nine years in a Nevada prison.

Simpson, who was acquitted for a double murder in 1995, is 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.

Simpson, 70, had said he was only trying to reclaim his possessions.

The former Hall of Fame running back was found guilty in 2008 – exactly 13 years to the day after he was famously acquitted for the killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

He 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.


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Media caption“If he is denied parole… it will be part of the continuing payback… since his acquittal in 1995,” says Jeffrey Toobin

The hearing for Prisoner 1027820 is happening 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 Thursday’s hearing began.

“Sure,” he replied in a husky voice 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, leaning forward and raising his voice.

He said the belongings, which he described as images of his family and friends, was 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.”

If four out of seven members of the parole board vote in favour of his release, Simpson could be free by October.

Experts believe he is likely to be approved for release, after a record of good behaviour at the Lovelock prison.

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”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Simpson rejected the suggestion that he had an alcohol problem during the hearing

“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 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 for not the more violent charges.

Bruce Fromong, who one of Simpson’s victims in the robbery, is expected to testify in favour of his release.

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.”

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