O.J. Simpson will have his Nevada state parole board hearing this Thursday, just a couple months before he hits the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence for armed robbery and assault with a weapon.
The Associated Press reports that nobody at the hearing is expected to oppose the release of Simpson in October, including the victim and former prosecutor.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines will air the parole hearing live in a 90-minute special. USA Today reports that more than 240 media credentials have been issued for the hearing, and a dozen satellite trucks are expected on location at the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners in Carson City, Nevada, where the hearing will take place; and 100 miles away at the Lovelock Correctional Center, where Simpson will join the hearing via video conference.
Due to the extreme interest in the case, the parole board is expected to make a decision about Simpson’s eligibility within hours of the hearing; it usually takes days for a decision to be made.
Normally, a parole hearing like this wouldn’t make national news. But there is nothing normal about Nevada prison inmate № 1027829, or his experience with the criminal justice system.
Simpson has been in the news frequently of late, thanks in part to ESPN’s Oscar-winning documentary O.J.: Made in America and FX’s Emmy and Golden-Globe winning true-crime anthology, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Both of those series centered around the murder of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, and Simpson’s subsequent acquittal of both murders after a high-profile jury trial in 1995.
But the former running back is currently in prison due to his actions on September 13, 2007, when Simpson and several other accomplices broke into a Las Vegas hotel room and took sports memorabilia at gunpoint. He was convicted of 12 felony counts. In 2013, he was granted parole on some counts, but had to remain in prison based on other sentences.
According to reports, Simpson has been a positive influence while in prison, leading a Baptist prayer group, mentoring inmates, working in the gym, coaching sports teams and serving as commissioner of the prison yard softball league. That will be a big factor in the parole hearing, as will the fact that he does not have a significant criminal history, thanks to his acquittal in the murder trial.
However, it’s important to note that Simpson was found liable for the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman in a civil trial.
And, as OJ: Made in America documented in detail, police had been called to the Simpson house over reports of domestic violence multiple times during Simpson’s relationship with Nicole. One of those incidents was in 1989, when Nicole called 911 in the middle of a huge fight, and an LAPD officer was dispatched to their house after hearing her screams over the call. When the officer arrived, Simpson ran out of the bushes wearing just a bra and sweatpants, covered in mud, saying, “He’s going to kill me.” Nicole told the officer that the LAPD had visited her house eight times for domestic violence, but they always just talked to Simpson and then left.
That time, the officer did bring charges against Simpson, but he got off with only 120 hours of community service, which he completed by organizing and playing in a celebrity golf tournament.
“Assuming that he’s behaved himself in prison, I don’t think it will be out of line for him to get parole,” David Roger, the retired Clark County district attorney, told the AP.