(ABC NEWS) O.J. Simpson has been granted parole after nine years in prison for a Las Vegas robbery, a group of four Nevada commissioners decided today. The imprisoned former NFL player could be released as early as Oct. 1.
After learning he would be released, Simpson, 70, bowed his head and said, “Thank you, thank you.”
Simpson delivered a rambling account of the case to the parole board earlier today, maintaining that he didn’t intend to steal but “wish this would have never happened.”
Simpson was at times jovial and combative with the members of the parole board, expressing his remorse and saying he’s humbled by his incarceration. Simpson was sentenced to prison following an arrest in 2007 during a botched robbery in Las Vegas, when he led a group of men into a hotel and casino to steal sports memorabilia at gunpoint. He contended the memorabilia and other personal items belonged to him.
Simpson told the parole board today, “I take full responsibility.”
As a perfect storm we all ended up in Las Vegas, you know? I was there for a wedding and [was told that] the property was there.”
He later continued, “I said, ‘Of course I would like to get the property.’ He told me the names of what he thought were the people in the room, and I realized these are friends of mine. You know? Actually guys who helped me move, helped me move and store some of this stuff.”
Simpson explained, “When I came into the [hotel] room I noticed spread out everywhere was my personal property.”
“The only thing I saw that was on display that wasn’t mine was some baseballs, and I made it clear to everybody those are not mine. All I want is my property. … I wasn’t there to steal from anybody.”
“I would never, ever pull a weapon,” he said.
Simpson added, “I haven’t made any excuses in the nine years I’ve been here and not trying to make an excuses now.”
When asked if he believed that the property was his, Simpson replied, “It’s been ruled legally by the state of California that it was my property and they’ve given it to me.”
Simpson reassured the board he would be successful meeting the conditions of his parole before it was granted, saying, “I’m not a guy who lived a criminal life.”
Simpson said in his nine years behind bars, he’s been “a good guy.”
“I was always a good guy, but could have been a better Christian, and my commitment to change is to be a better Christian.”
He said he took an “alternative to violence” course in prison, calling it “the most important course anybody in this prison can take because it teaches you how to deal with conflict through conversation.”
“I had some problems with fidelity in my life, but I’ve always been a guy that pretty much got along with everybody,” he said.
Simpson said he’s missed 36 birthdays with his children while behind bars and missed their college graduations. Once released, he said he wants to spend as much time as he can with his family.
During the hearing, Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, planned to read to the board a letter Simpson wrote to a Nevada assemblyman, but LaVergne had difficulty finding it and asked Simpson in front of the commissioners, “Did you take the letter? I can’t find it now.”
He then located the letter and read it to the board; in the letter, Simpson advocates for state funds to go toward education for inmates.
LaVergne then argued to the board that Simpson’s letter didn’t ask for special treatment or an early release, but instead showed how Simpson wants to help other inmates have “a better life.”
Simpson’s eldest daughter, Arnelle Simpson, also spoke at the hearing, appearing emotional as she told the board her father is her “best friend” and her “rock.”
“No one really knows how much we have been through, this ordeal in the last nine years,” she said, noting that “he didn’t make the right decision” on the day of the robbery.
“We just want him to come home,” she said. “This has been really, truly hard. … I know that he is remorseful.”
Bruce Fromong, one of the robbed memorabilia dealers and a victim in the case, spoke in Simpson’s favor at the hearing. He admitted the hotel room did contain items that belong to Simpson, but said that on the day of the robbery, “Simpson was misguided.”
Fromong continued, “He was led to believe that on that day, there were going to be thousands of pieces of his personal memorabilia, pictures of his wife from his first marriage, pictures of his kids. He was told there were going to be possibly his wife’s wedding ring, thousands of things. He was misled about what was going to be there that day.”
“O.J. never held a gun on me,” Fromong said. “O.J. is my friend, always has been, and I hope will remain my friend.”