CARSON CITY, NV — O.J. Simpson was granted parole at a hearing today in Carson City, Nevada.
All four commissioners agreed to grant parole, and the former football star was visibly emotional as they read their decision and he said “Thank you.”
Simpson’s fate rested in the hands of the members of the Nevada Board of Parole, who held a hearing that was televised live starting at 1 p.m. EST.
Simpson was joined by his lawyer Malcolm LaVergne, his close friend Tom Scotto, his sister Shirley Baker, his brother Melvin, and his daughter Arnelle at Lovelock Correctional Center, where he has been serving his time since 2008.
The parole board based its decision on a number of factors, such as history of drug and alcohol abuse and disciplinary conduct over the past year. The earliest he could be released from prison is Oct. 1.
Simpson, 70, was given a 33-year sentence after he was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery, and 10 other charges related to a botched sports memorabilia heist in a Las Vegas hotel room.
He has been described as a model inmate and has spent his time behind bars mopping the prison gym floor and serving as a sports coach to other inmates.
Nevada Board of Parole Commissioner chairman Connie Bisbee opened by briefly explaining the scoring system used by the parole board, and asked Simpson a series of questions. Simpson confirmed that he was arrested for the first time at age 24 or older, that he had never been on parole or probation before, and was “unemployed” at the time of the offense because he was in “retirement status.”
Regarding the night of the robbery, panel member Tony Corda asked Simpson, “What were you thinking?”
Then Simpson began telling the story of what happened on the night of the robbery and said that he took “full responsibility” for his crimes — but also added that his associates should have served time in prison for bringing a weapon.
During the hearing Simpson said many times that he never knew his accomplices were carrying guns and that he would never pull a gun on someone. “I am no danger of pulling a gun on anyone,” he said. “I would never, ever pull a weapon on anybody.”
He said that he spoke to the men who had his property, and that there were no hard feelings. “In no way, shape or form did I mean them any harm.”
Simpson said he had been contacted by a man who told him that there were some guys who were trying to get him to “fence” his property. “My mother’s albums, pictures of my kids growing up, certificates of accomplishments of mine…so I told him I would really like to get this stuff,” he said.
After Simpson ended up in Las Vegas for a wedding, he realized that the men who allegedly had his property were friends of his who had helped him move the stuff into storage. He added that Lovelock Correctional Facility had done an investigation, ruled that the property he took that night was his, and returned it to Simpson.
There was a lighthearted moment when Bisbee incorrectly stated his age as 90, and Simpson joked: “I feel like it.”
Simpson said he took two “Alternative to Violence” courses in prison and said he had been asked “many times” to mitigate conflicts between inmates without resorting to fights. “I’ve always thought I’ve been pretty good with people and basically had a conflict free life,” he said, explaining that the victim empathy course had helped him learn how to talk to the crime victims and understand how the crime he committed had impacted their lives.
“I’ve never had an alcohol problem,” Simpson said when asked if he had attended Alcoholics Anonymous. “I had drinks on that day, but it was a wedding celebration. I’ve never had a substance problem at all.”
Simpson said that during his time behind bars, he had attended Baptist services and reaffirmed his commitment to Christianity. “I had some problems with fidelity in my life, but I’ve always been a guy that got along with everybody,” he said.
He said that if he is granted parole, he plans to spend as much time as possible with friends and family. His oldest daughter Arnelle, 48, stated that her father had been “humbled” by the experience and said that his family and friends “just want him to come home.”
“I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it wasn’t worth it,” Simpson said during his closing statement, adding once again: “I’m sorry. I wish it had never happened.”
In 1995, Simpson was controversially acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Bisbee stated that the board had received “hundreds” of letters from people asking for Simpson’s 1995 acquittal and civil judgements to be considered, but said that these incidents were not factored in to the board’s decision.
To learn more about O.J. Simpson, watch Investigation Discovery’s After the Evidence on ID GO now!
Main photo: Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool