O.J. Simpson could soon be a free man.
His fate is in the hands of four Nevada parole board commissioners who will hear arguments Thursday (July 20, 2017) about whether to release Simpson, who is approaching the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence for armed robbery, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.
CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports the isolated prison Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada, which is about 90 miles northeast of Reno has been Simpson’s home since 2008 when he was convicted of taking part in an armed confrontation in a Las Vegas hotel the year before, trying to retrieve sports memorabilia he said was his. Many believe the harsh sentence in this case was payback for another crime, the double murder in 1994 for which he was found not guilty.
In 2007, grainy surveillance video from a Las Vegas casino showed Simpson leaving a sports memorabilia dealer’s hotel room and heading back into the national spotlight.
Tom Riccio arranged a meeting with dealers who had items apparently stolen from Simpson. He made an audio recording of the confrontation, part of which was later played in court.
Riccio was given immunity and testified for the prosecution. The Nevada jury found Simpson guilty of not just kidnapping, but also armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison.
He was last seen at a parole hearing on the lesser charges four years ago.
“I just wish I had never gone to that, to that room, I wish I didn’t,” Simpson said. “I wish I had just said, ‘Keep it,’ and not worry about it.”
At that hearing, the parole board ruled in Simpson’s favor. But he was not released.
Retired prison guard Jeffrey Felix says he befriended Simpson in Lovelock. He says he’s been a model inmate.
“He’s been in that prison for nine years,” Felix said. “There’s not one write-up. He’s helped other inmates with problems. He’s gotten in no trouble in nine years. That’s very hard to do.”
Simpson’s low-profile prison life stands in stark contrast to his very high-profile brushes with the law, which started in 1994. He surrendered to authorities after leading police on a slow speed chase watched by millions on TV, as was his subsequent trial for the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
The trial lasted more than eight months. The debate about whether justice was served continues to linger to this day.
The parole board is not allowed to consider Simpson’s murder trial in making it’s recommendations Thursday. It will take into consideration such things as his age, the offenses and his behavior while in prison.
Legal experts say it’s likely he’ll win release.