LAS VEGAS -- For the first time in a long while, O.J. Simpson got a bit of favorable legal news Wednesday when Nevada officials granted him parole on several of his 2008 convictions for kidnapping and armed robbery stemming from his attempt to retrieve sports memorabilia.
But the disgraced former Heisman Trophy winner and USC running back still faces at least four more years in prison on sentences that were ordered to run consecutively.
The Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners noted in its decision Simpson’s “positive institutional record” and his participation in addressing his “behavior that led to incarceration.”
Last Thursday, Simpson appeared before a two-member parole panel to plead for leniency. During the 20-minute hearing, Simpson told the commissioners that regrets his actions and said he’s tried to be a model inmate.
Simpson said the Nevada incident came about because he was trying to reclaim his stolen property and originally called his actions part of a “sting” designed to recover valuable mementos of his sports career.
Simpson has also sought a new trial on the charges, arguing that his former lawyer on the case, Yale Galanter, performed poorly. Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell held a weeklong hearing on the issue in May, and Simpson awaits her ruling.
The parole board decision will not influence Bell’s ruling on whether Simpson will receive a new trial in the robbery case, said Patricia Palm, Simpson’s attorney.
“I don’t expect this is the kind of thing will affect Judge Bell’s decision,” Palm told the Los Angeles Times. “Her ruling has to be based on what was presented in court. But it does mean something to Mr. Simpson.”
Simpson was heartened by the Wednesday’s parole board news, Palm said.
“He’s very pleased,” she said. “He’s very grateful he was treated fairly. There’s really no reason it should have gone any other way.”
Simpson’s parole becomes effective Oct. 2, Palms said. Then, the 66-year-old will begin serving the minimum term on four concurrent sentences imposed for using a weapon during the 2007 robbery.
After that, he has two more consecutive terms for assault with a deadly weapon.
Simpson has been held at Lovelock Correction Center, about 90 miles from Reno, since 2008, when he was sentenced to up to 33 years on a variety of charges stemming from what he said was an attempt to regain his sports memorabilia from dealers. He was eventually convicted on charges that included kidnapping, robbery and burglary.
Simpson’s most infamous court case took place nearly two decades ago when was tried for murder and acquitted in Los Angeles for the 1994 death of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.