Speculation swirls over when O.J. Simpson’s release from Nevada prison will happen
This time, it’s speculation and rumors chasing O.J. Simpson.
The former football star could be released as soon as Monday from prison over his 2008 armed robbery and kidnapping convictions in Las Vegas. But Nevada Department of Corrections officials have been mostly quiet about how and when he’ll be released.
Even Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, said he didn’t know the timing of the release — though he said he would “wait patiently” through Oct. 6 for the 70-year-old to be let out of prison.
LaVergne said that he spoke to Simpson, still at Lovelock Correctional Center north of Reno, by phone and that his client was “excited” about the impending release.
“I can tell from his voice on the phone last night that he’s looking forward to freedom and hugging his family on the outside,” LaVergne said. “[The] Department of Corrections has been so good to Simpson and me that I won’t question their judgment unless this isn’t resolved by next Friday.”
LaVergne told “Good Morning America” on Friday that Simpson’s first orders of business upon being released were to eat steak and seafood — and get an iPhone.
Simpson will be transferred to High Desert Prison, about 45 minutes outside Las Vegas, before his eventual release.
It appeared that move was already underway. State officials did not announce a transfer, but the inmate records did not contain information on his status Saturday. According to a corrections official quoted by the Associated Press on Saturday night, that usually indicates that an inmate is being moved in custody.
Corrections officials confirmed that extra corrections staff would be at the prison Monday, but said that didn’t necessarily mean Simpson would be released that day.
Speculation about Simpson regaining his freedom has sparked interested worldwide — though a Monday release isn’t a guarantee and even spurred LaVergne to wonder where the information was coming from.
“This is the wildest thing to happen in my legal career, more so than the parole hearing in July. I have had two completely false reports that Mr. Simpson had already been moved (with one implying he had been released already), one of which alarmed me a great deal,” he wrote in an email Friday. “The only source I’m relying on for the move is Simpson. I spoke to him [Thursday]. He is in Lovelock. Still there. When he informs me of any move, then I will be able to update the media. Until then, I can only educate on the process and speculate just like the media is doing.”
Simpson was granted parole in July for the botched robbery and kidnapping involving his own memorabilia at Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas. He was sentenced to up to 33 years, but the Nevada Parole Board granted him his freedom due to good behavior while in custody.
“I’ve done my time,” Simpson said at the hearing. “I’ve done it as well and as respectfully as anybody can.”
He was ultimately acquitted of the crime by a Los Angeles jury in 1995. That controversial verdict dogged Simpson as acting, endorsement and sports broadcasting opportunities largely dried up for the star — fueled by speculation among the victims’ families that he was guilty.
Simpson, however, lost a civil judgment related to the crime and was ordered to play $33.5 million to the victims’ families. Kim Goldman, Ronald Goldman’s sister, wrote a book published in 2015 called “Can’t Forgive” that seethes with anger about his not-guilty verdict in criminal court.
Simpson has said he hoped to move to Florida upon his release from prison, and joked before the parole board about possibly staying in Nevada.
“I could stay in Nevada, but I don’t think you guys want me here,” he said.
However, a move to Florida would require approval by the Florida Department of Corrections. Officials with that department said they hadn’t received such a request as of Friday.
According to Florida officials, Nevada must validate a transfer plan and agree that they will allow Simpson to request transfer out of the state. Once Florida receives the request, officials there have 45 days to review the plan and determine whether Simpson will be accepted.
On Friday, Florida Atty. Gen. Pam Bondi made it clear that she did not want Simpson in the state.
“Floridians are well aware of Mr. Simpson’s background, his wanton disregard for the lives of others, and of his scofflaw attitude with respect to the heinous acts for which he has been found civilly liable,” Bondi wrote to the Department of Corrections. “The specter of his residing in comfort in Florida should not be an option.”
Simpson was eligible for release on parole Oct. 1, but the Nevada Department of Corrections doesn’t process inmate releases on Sundays. Upon his release, he will be supervised under parole guidelines through September 2022.
The remote facility at High Desert where Simpson will be transferred before his release is the largest correctional institution in Nevada, with 4,600 beds.
As early as Thursday afternoon, however, some local news trucks were already canvasing near the prison site and in the small, unincorporated town of Indian Springs a few miles down the road from High Desert State Prison.
But Department of Corrections officials said they were going to keep media from gathering at the prison and would instead release a video of Simpson’s release.
“There’s just too much interest,” said corrections spokeswoman Brooke Keast.
8:40 p.m.: This article was updated to report that it appears Simpson is being transferred to a prison near Las Vegas.
This article was originally published at 5 a.m.
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