Dan Zak, Washington Post, July 20, 2017
O.J. Simpson will soon be a free man. Again. A four-member parole board in Carson City, Nev., voted unanimously Thursday to curtail his 33-year prison sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming from a confrontation over sports memorabilia in Las Vegas in 2007.
The football legend and abusive husband, now 70 years old, could be released as soon as October 1 into a world that’s still fascinated by his plummet from grace.
As the proceedings got underway around 10 a.m., Nevada time, a smiling Simpson entered the hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center dressed in a light blue shirt with billowy sleeves, his hair splotched white, his voice gravelly. Seated at a desk with his attorney, Simpson was by turns affable and testy, humbled and defiant.
“I always thought I’ve been pretty good with people,” Simpson told the board by video link, “and have basically spent a conflict-free life.”
On the “Today” show Thursday morning, Simpson prosecutor Christopher Darden revealed what he would ask Simpson if he was on the parole board.
“Well, ‘Did you kill Ron and Nicole?’” Darden said, referring to Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, for whose murders Simpson was acquitted in 1995.
“But of course that’s not legally relevant” to the Vegas case, said NBC host Savannah Guthrie.
“Well that’s the one question I’d like to ask,” Darden said. “I think that’s the one question everybody would like to ask.”
He participated in Thursday’s hearing by video conference from the medium-security Lovelock Correctional Center, a cropping of white buildings in the vast beigeness of northwestern Nevada. He’s lived there as inmate 1027820 since he was convicted and sentenced in 2008, after he and five men, some armed with handguns, confronted and detained dealers of sports memorabilia in the Palace Station hotel in Vegas. The families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman drew a direct connection between their 1994 murders and the Vegas incident.
“Allowing wealth, power and control to consume himself, he made a horrific choice on June 12, 1994, which has spiraled into where he is today,” Nicole’s sister Denise Brown said in a statement after the conviction, which came 13 years to the day Simpson was acquitted for the murders. The Goldmans had already won a $33.5-million wrongful-death lawsuit against Simpson, which they believed drove him to attempt to reclaim valuable memorabilia.
During the past nine years in Lovelock, Simpson mopped floors, disinfected gym equipment, coached inmate sports teams and led Bible study. In a sad echo of athletic competitiveness, he told the warden that he would try to be “the best prisoner they’ve ever had.”
Simpson was paroled on one set of charges in 2013, after apologizing to the board for the Vegas incident; the other set required an additional four-year term, at minimum, which ends this year.
On “Good Morning America” Thursday, the family of Ron Goldman vowed to continue going after Simpson’s assets, as a form of perpetual punishment.
“What’s troubling to me is [that] the whole system gives second chances to violent felons,” said Fred Goldman, Ron’s father. “Ron doesn’t get a second chance.”