أنت تستخدم إصدار مستعرض قديمًا. الرجاء استخدام إصدار معتمد للحصول على أفضل تجربة MSN.

OJ Simpson granted parole after nearly 9 years in jail

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 20/07/2017
Simpson, 70, could be a free man as early as October 1 [Jason Bean/Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera Simpson, 70, could be a free man as early as October 1 [Jason Bean/Reuters]

OJ Simpson, the former American football star, has been granted parole after more than eight years in prison for a Las Vegas hotel robbery, successfully making his case in a nationally televised hearing.

Simpson, 70, could be a free man as early as October 1.

By then, he will have served the minimum of his nine-to-33-year armed-robbery sentence for a bungled attempt to snatch sports memorabilia and other mementos he claimed had been stolen from him.

He got the four votes he needed from the parole commissioners who heard his case on Thursday.

In agreeing to release him, they cited his lack of a prior conviction, the low risk he might commit another crime, his community support and his release plans.

READ MORE: Ear Hustle - Prison podcast tells of life in San Quentin

During the more than hour-long hearing, Simpson forcefully insisted - as he has all along - that he was only trying to retrieve items that belonged to him and never meant to hurt anyone.

He said he never pointed a gun at anyone nor made any threats during the crime.

"I've done my time. I've done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can," he said.

Simspon made his plea for freedom in a stark hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada as four parole commissioners in Carson City, a two-hour drive away, questioned him via video.

Simpson, grey-haired but looking trimmer than he has in recent years, walked briskly into the hearing room dressed in jeans, a light-blue prison-issue shirt and sneakers.

The Hall of Fame athlete's chances of winning release were considered good, given similar cases and Simpson's model behaviour behind bars.

His defenders have argued, too, that his sentence was out of proportion to the crime and that he was being punished for the two murders he was acquitted of during his 1995 "trial of the century" in Los Angeles, the stabbings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Before the hearing concluded, one of the dealers Simpson robbed, Bruce Fromong, said the former football great never pointed a gun at him during the confrontation, adding that it was one of the men with him who did so. Fromong said Simpson deserved to be released.

"He is a good man. He made a mistake," Fromong said, adding the two remain friends.

'It wasn't worth it and I'm sorry'

Simpson said that he has spent his time in prison mentoring fellow inmates, often keeping others out of trouble, and believes he has become a better person during those years.

Asked if he was confident he could stay out of trouble if he's released, Simpson replied that he learned much during an alternative-to-violence course he took in prison and that in any case he has always gotten along well with people.

"I had basically spent a conflict-free life," he said - a remark that lit up social media with scornful and sarcastic comments given the murder case and a raft of allegations he abused his wife.

READ MORE: Is the US failing its inmates?

In a final statement to the board he apologised again.

"I'm sorry it happened, I'm sorry, Nevada," he said. "I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it just wasn't worth it. It wasn't worth it and I'm sorry."

Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi, reporting from Washington, DC, said some of the faultlines from the original murder trial had resurfaced again; some believed Simpson had been framed in the initial murder trial by racist police, others thought he was clearly guilty.

"Some people were saying that original - alleged - crime should have taken into account," he said. 

"[But] the Parole Board was very clear: this was simply about that armed robbery in Nevada, OJ Simpson has done his time, and he should be released by October 1 at the earliest."

OJ Simpson's life

An electrifying running back dubbed The Juice, Simpson won the Heisman Trophy as the nation's best college football player in 1968 and went on to become one of the NFL's all-time greats.

The handsome and charismatic athlete was also a Monday Night Football commentator, sprinted through airports in Hertz rental-car commercials and built a Hollywood career with roles in the Naked Gun comedies and other films.

All of that came crashing down with his arrest in the 1994 slayings and his trial, a gavel-to-gavel live-TV sensation that transfixed viewers with its testimony about the bloody glove that did not fit and stirred furious debate over racist police, celebrity justice and cameras in the courtroom.

READ MORE: Old Main prison - A tour through American prison history

Last year, the case proved to be compelling TV all over again with the ESPN documentary "OJ: Made in America" and the award-winning FX miniseries "The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story".

In 1997, Simpson was found liable in civil court for the two killings and ordered to pay $33.5m to survivors, including his children and the Goldman family.

Then a decade later, he and five accomplices - two with guns - stormed a hotel room and seized photos, plaques and signed balls, some of which never belonged to Simpson, from two sports memorabilia dealers.

Simpson was convicted in 2008, and the long prison sentence brought a measure of satisfaction to some of those who thought he got away with murder.

MORE FROM ALJAZEERA

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon