O.J. Simpson was granted parole on Thursday morning in a 2007 armed robbery case after an hour-long hearing in Nevada. He could be released as early as Oct. 1.
The former football star, who won the Heisman Trophy at USC in 1968, is currently serving time for his role in a 2007 Las Vegas dispute over sports memorabilia. Simpson has served nine years of a 33-year sentence.
Simpson was convicted of breaking into a Vegas hotel room of sports collectors and taking items, which Simpson claimed belonged to him.
The Nevada Board of Parole voted unanimously to grant Simpson parole after 30 minutes of deliberation. Simpson said in the hearing he plans to relocate to Florida after his release.
The parole hearing was broadcast live across the country. Simpson answered questions about his time in prison as well as questions about the night of the robbery from each of the four Nevada Board of Parole commissioners.
Simpson described in lengthy terms the details of the night of the robbery, maintaining that he was not aware of the gun in the hotel room and the property taken was his. Simpson showed flares of anger at the beginning of the proceedings, when claiming that the property he took belonged to him. Simpson seemed to avoid taking responsibility for the incident until the latter half of the proceedings.
Toward the end of the hearing, Simpson took on a more subdued tone, describing himself as a model prisoner who simply wants parole so he can spend time with his children, which is consistent with his 2013 parole hearing.
“I’ve not complained,” Simpson told the board. “For nine years, all I’ve done is be helpful.”
He went further to claim he lived a relatively conflict-free life before the robbery, and plans to continue this after. In fact, the only conflict he mentioned was “struggling with fidelity.”
“I’m not a guy that has conflicts on the street, and I won’t have any when I leave here,” Simpson said.
Simpson followed his time at USC with a successful NFL and television career that cast him as a leading African-American figure in the country. A replica of Simpson’s Heisman Trophy currently sits in Heritage Hall and his plaque sits among the many on the Walk of Fame across from Howard Jones Field.
The version of Simpson at the parole hearing is far different from the one painted of him during the infamous 1995 murder trial where he was charged with the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her companion, Ron Goldman.
One point of contention among Simpson and the board came with the issue of substance abuse. The board stated at the beginning of the hearing that they classified the offense as a substance-related offense because Simpson had admitted to consuming alcohol prior to the robbery. Simpson had stated back in the 2013 parole hearing that he would complete Alcoholics Anonymous, but admitted on Wednesday’s hearing that he had neglected to do so.
“I think I’ve made it clear back then, I don’t have an alcohol problem … I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of having an alcohol problem or a substance problem,” Simpson said.
Another key part of the hearing came with the testimony from the robbery victim in the case, Bruce Fromong. Fromong, who interestingly enough sported a Heisman shirt, maintained that Simpson should be granted parole.
“O.J. never held a gun on me,” Fromong said.
At the end of the testimony, Fromong even got emotional, stating that whenever Simpson gets out of prison, he will be there for him.
“If he called me tomorrow and said ‘Bruce, I’m getting out, can you come pick me up,’ — Juice, I’ll be there tomorrow for you,” a tearful Fromong turned to say to Simpson.
Among other unorthodox events, the hearing was marked by an unprecedented sense of levity and humor throughout, starting with the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioner Connie Bisbee misstating Simpson’s age as 90 (he is 70).
“You look great for 90!” she said, earning laughs from Simpson and the crowd convened at the hearing.
Simpson responded, “I feel like it, though.”
Simpson’s fame is at an all-time high after two high-profile television programs about his life aired last year, including ESPN’s 30 for 30 five-part documentary and the FX true-crime series, The People v. O.J. Simpson.
He could receive up to a substantial, but unknown amount of money from his NFL pension and a retirement plan at the Screen Actor’s Guild.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated the parole hearing took place on Wednesday. It took place on Thursday. The Daily Trojan regrets this error.