O.J. Simpson is set for a parole hearing Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, on the remaining counts for which he was convicted in Las Vegas in 2008. Simpson has a strong chance of a favorable outcome before the Nevada Board of Parole, which in 2013 paroled him on five counts.
Here’s a refresher on Simpson’s status and what could happen next:
O.J. parole hearing set for July 20 in Nevada
O.J. Simpson is due to appear July 20 before a panel of four parole commissioners who could approve his release Oct. 1.
Why is he in prison?
Simpson was convicted for his part in a September 2007 crime in which he and several accomplices entered a Las Vegas hotel room and took hundreds of pieces of memorabilia from two men. One of the men with Simpson brandished a gun during the incident, and Simpson ordered no one could leave the room. Simpson said he was trying to retrieve items that belonged to him, including family photos, but the group left with many items that had nothing to do with Simpson. He was convicted in October 2008 on all 12 counts — three counts of conspiracy; one count of burglary with use of a deadly weapon; and two counts each of kidnapping, robbery, assault and coercion, all with use of a deadly weapon.
What happened at his sentencing?
Simpson could have been sentenced to life in prison. Prosecutors asked that Simpson be ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years, while the defense asked for a minimum of six years. Judge Jackie Glass, on Dec. 8, 2008, sentenced Simpson to a minimum of nine years and a maximum of 33 years in prison.
Though Glass was known for handing out tough sentences, many said it was no coincidence she chose 33. In 1997, Simpson was found liable of wrongful death in a civil trial brought by the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million, a small portion of which the families have been able to collect. Glass has denied the coincidence.
Where is Simpson now, and when could he be released?
Simpson is inmate No. 1027820 at Lovelock Correctional Facility in Lovelock, Nevada, a medium-security facility about 90 miles northeast of Reno, and more than 400 miles from Las Vegas, the site of Simpson’s crimes. He is eligible to be released on parole as early as Oct. 1, 2017. A parole hearing will be held Thursday, 11 days after Simpson’s 70th birthday. The hearing will be conducted from the Carson City office of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners, with Simpson on a video teleconference from Lovelock. The Board has established a webpage consolidating information related to Simpson’s hearing.
How will the parole hearing work?
Only four members of the seven-member Nevada parole board will be present at the public hearing in Carson City, which is where these four are based. They are Connie S. Bisbee (chairman), Tony Corda, Adam Endel and Susan Jackson. At the end of the hearing, they will deliberate in private, which is not expected to last more than 30 minutes. They will then return to the hearing room and vote in public.
Because four votes are required to grant or deny parole, the four attending the hearing must be unanimous. If they are not, they will consult with two other members who are based in Las Vegas, with the seventh seat on the board currently vacant. They will be briefed and vote until they have four in agreement or deadlock at a 3-3 vote. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval has appointed someone to the seventh seat, but that person won’t begin his/her term until after this hearing.
Even though the hearing is open to the public, the only people allowed to speak are victims, direct family members of victims and Simpson and his representatives. The board’s decision weighs heavily — but not exclusively — on a points system that considers 11 factors, including criminal history, age and gender, history of alcohol and/or drug abuse, and behavior as an inmate.
What happened in his original parole hearing?
The hearing was conducted on July 25, 2013, by parole board commissioner Susan Jackson and hearing representative Robin Bates to determine if Simpson was to be paroled on five counts. Simpson was on video conference from Lovelock and he was the only other person to speak at the hearing. He talked of being a model prisoner, trying to educate himself, and pointed out what he saw as mitigating circumstances of his crime, while also taking responsibility for decisions he made that day.
Six days later, the board granted Simpson parole on the burglary count, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of robbery. But he was not eligible for parole on other counts related to use of a deadly weapon until 2017.
What happens if he is granted his release?
Because Lovelock is in such a remote area, it is likely that he would first be transferred to another facility close to Reno or Las Vegas. Simpson had been held at High Desert State Prison, about 40 miles from Las Vegas, prior to being transferred to Lovelock, so that would be one option.
While Oct. 1 is his earliest release date, authorities do not have to announce exactly when or how he is being released. He’ll likely be granted permission to leave Nevada, but he must maintain contact with his probation officer, and the Nevada Board of Parole would communicate with its counterpart in the state in which he chooses to reside.
What if he is denied parole?
A rehearing date would be set by the panel for some time between one and three years later. Simpson’s ultimate release date — without parole or further infractions — is currently set for September 2022, though it can fluctuate based on time earned. If the vote is split 3-3, parole will be denied for a period of six months and a new hearing would be scheduled for January 2018. The board would be fully staffed by seven at that point, unless there are further changes.