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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

OJ Simpson granted parole after serving nine of 33 years for armed robbery and kidnapping

The former NFL star will be released in October after completing the court-mandated period of his sentence

O.J. Simpson reacts during his parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Centre in Nevada REUTERS/Jason Bean/POOL
O.J. Simpson reacts during his parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Centre in Nevada REUTERS/Jason Bean/POOL

OJ Simpson will be released from jail after completing just nine years of a 33-year sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping.

The former star American footballer was sentenced in 2008 for entering a Las Vegas hotel room with five accomplices - two armed with guns. They kidnapped two sports memorabilia dealers by holding them in a room while they seized photos, plaques and signed balls. Some of the memorabilia had previously belonged to Simpson.

A parole board hearing that deemed he had completed his rehabilitation and confirmed he would be released early.

The board’s decision caps the latest chapter in Simpson’s five decades of fame and notoriety, which has seen him go from feted sports star, through minor roles in a host of Hollywood films, to being accused of the murder of his former wife and her new partner.

Thursday’s hearing took place with the 70-year-old Simpson in a room at the Lovelock Correctional Center in rural Nevada communicating through a video-link with four parole commissioners in Carson City.

The grey-haired Mr Simpson insisted that he had only been trying to retrieve memorabilia and mementos that had been stolen from him and that there was never an intention for him and his accomplices to harm anyone.

“I've done my time. I've done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can. In no way, shape or form did I wish them any harm," he added, saying he later made amends with those in the room.

“I'm sorry it happened, I'm sorry, Nevada,” he told the hearing, which was broadcast live on major TV cable channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and ESPN. “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.”

One of the two victims of the crime, Bruce Fromong, confirmed to the court that Simpson had not pointed a gun at him during the incident and added that it was one of the other men who had done so. “He is a good man. He made a mistake,” Fromong said, adding that he hoped Simpson could be released.

After a hearing that lasted less than an hour, it took the panel of four parole board members just over half an hour to conclude that Simpson should be released on October 1, which is the minimum period of time that he was sentenced to serve before he was eligible for parole.

Some of the public believe that the harsh sentence imposed on Simpson was out of proportion for the crime he was convicted of, and instead reflected a desire that he somehow be punished for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Mr Simpson famously stood trial in 1995 for their brutal murders which happened the previous year, after which he fled police in his car in a televised chase. It was a case which captivated America and the world, and which mercilessly exposed racial divides in American society.

A jury acquitted him of those heinous slayings, although two years later he was found liable in civil court for the killings and ordered to pay $33.5 million to survivors, including his children and the Goldman family.

Last year, the court case and its aftermath were made into an award-winning FX miniseries The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.