Former Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson has been granted parole by the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, which means he could be out of prison as soon as Oct. 1.
Simpson, 70, joined the hearing in Carson City, Nev., via video conference from Lovelock Correctional Center about two hours away, where he has been imprisoned since early October 2008. He wore a light blue jean-like shirt and sat to the left of attorney Malcolm LaVergne. He was sentenced in 2008 to nine years minimum and 33 years maximum for 12 charges stemming from an incident in which Simpson and others confronted memorabilia collectors in a Las Vegas hotel to retrieve items of his.
Five of those charges carried a minimum sentence of five years, and he was paroled on those charges in October 2013. The other seven charges carried a minimum sentence of four years after the first five were up, which is why Simpson had another parole hearing four years later.
Four of the six commissioners were present in Carson City - Tony Corda, Susan L. Jackson, Adam Endel and Chairman Connie S. Bisbee - and they reached a unanimous decision to parole Simpson. If they had not voted 4-0 to one side, the other two commissioners stationed in Las Vegas -Michael Keeler and Ed Gray - would've been telephoned in until four votes were tallied for one side.
"Mr. Simpson, you are getting the same hearing that everyone else gets," Bisbee said at the beginning of the hearing. "I want to make that clear."
The commissioners weighed 11 criteria, among which included Simpson's age, gender, criminal history and behavior as an inmate, which had by all reports and accounts been favorable. Despite some extraneous factors, such as Simpson not seeming sympathetic during the parole hearing and admitting he didn't enter the Alcoholics Anonymous program in prison that he said he would during his last parole hearing, he was granted parole. The four board members were the same four who granted Simpson parole four years ago.
The first speaker, Bisbee, asked Simpson multiple questions based on criteria the board weighs in determining whether to grant an inmate parole or not. After Bisbee finished speaking, commissioner Corda asked, “What were you thinking?” in reference to the night Simpson and others committed the crime in Las Vegas. Simpson responded with a lengthly, animated answer detailing the events of that night. Jackson spoke next, asking Simpson what he's done to better himself in prison, to which Simpson responded that he's mediated conflicts between inmates and attended Baptist services, among other activities. Endel was the last commissioner to speak, and he asked Simpson about restitution from his civil case and why Simpson thinks it's better to be in the community than in prison, to which Simpson highlighted spending time with his kids and friends.
"I've done my time," said Simpson, who requested to live in Florida with his family and not Nevada. "I've done it as well and respectfully as anybody can."
Simpson's oldest child, his daughter Arnelle, expressed why she thinks her father should be granted parole. "On behalf of my family, my brother, my sister, my aunt, my uncle," Arnelle said, "we just want him to come home ... so we can move forward for us, quietly."
Among the others who spoke in favor of Simpson being granted parole were LaVergne and Bruce Fromong, one of the victims from the memorabilia incident in the Las Vegas hotel who said he has been friends with Simpson for almost 30 years.
Simpson's name has resurfaced in the mainstream the past couple years, thanks in part to the 30 for 30, OJ: Made in America. The film documents the spectacle and wide-ranging societal impact of Simpson's murder trial following the 1994 deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. One of the most iconic days in recent American history was June 17, 1994, the day Simpson's friend Al Cowlings led police on a low-speed chase in the infamous white Ford Bronco with Simpson in the back seat.
"I'm not a guy who lived a criminal life," Simpson said. "I'm a pretty straight shooter."