WASHINGTON – O.J. Simpson broke into tears when he was granted parole on Thursday after serving 9 years of a 33-year sentence in a Nevada prison for an armed robbery.
After deliberating for about 30 minutes, the four members of the Nevada Parole Board participating in the hearing via videoconference from Carson City, Nev., unanimously agreed to parole him once he has served the minimum time of his sentence.
He is scheduled to be released on or after Oct 1.
Simpson thanked the parole board as he was escorted out of the room at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock.
The victim of the armed robbery, Bruce Fromong, testified on Simpson’s behalf, as did Simpson’s eldest child, Arnelle Simpson.
At the beginning of the hearing, the commissioners informed Simpson that they could not consider his acquittal in the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, nor could they factor in the civil judgment that Goldman’s father, Ron Goldman, won against the former football player.
Seated next to his attorney, Malcolm LaVerne, Simpson gave a rambling recount of the robbery of a sports memorabilia collector in a Las Vegas hotel room on Sept. 13, 2007, which landed him in prison. Simpson emphasized that he did not have a gun and said he found out only later that one of the men accompanying him pointed a gun at Bruce Fromong, a longtime friend of Simpson’s.
Simpson said he is not a violent person.
“I’m not a guy that has conflicts on the street,” Simpson said. “I’ve always been a guy that pretty much got along with everyone.”
Simpson said he had been a model prisoner who tried to make the best of the situation. He said he had taken several courses while behind bars, most notably “Alternative to Violence.”
“It teaches you how to deal with conflict through conversation,” he said of the course. It helped him mediate conflicts between inmates, he noted. “I don’t understand why that is not a mandatory course for everybody here.”
He said he also has taken a computer course so he could better communicate with his children.
He apologized to the people of Nevada for his crime. “I take full responsibility.”
An emotional Arnelle Simpson, 48, emphasized the toll that her father’s imprisonment has taken on their family.
“He has spent the nine years in Lovelock … and he been the perfect inmate and has made the best of the situation.”
Pausing often and seemingly choking up, she said her father was her “best friend and her rock.”
“Throughout this ordeal we have remained close, we have stayed strong,” she said.
“We just want him to come home. I know in my heart that he is very humbled throughout the situation. … This has been really truly hard.”
His other daughter, Sydney, or his two sons, Jason and Justin, did not testify and t is not clear if they attended the hearing.
Fromong said he and Simpson have been friends for 27 years. He said Simpson never held a gun on him in the hotel room on the day of the robbery.
Fromong said he had recommended that Simpson serve only 1 to 3 years.
“Nine and a half to 33 years was way too long,” Fromong said. “I feel it’s time to give him a second chance. It’s time for him to go home to his family and friends. He’s a good man. He made a mistake.
“If he called me and said he was getting out, will you pick me up,” looking over his shoulder at his friend, Fromong said: “Juice, I’ll be here tomorrow for you. I mean that, buddy.”
Simpson said he plans to move back to Florida and a parole official from that state spoke at the hearing.
Although Simpson reportedly has said that, once freed, he would “never step foot in Nevada again,” he told the board: “I could easily stay in Nevada but I don’t think you guys want me here,” as he laughed.
Connie Bisbee, chair of the parole board, curtly responded: “No comment.”