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LOVELOCK, Nev. — Former football star and convicted felon O.J. Simpson is appearing before a parole board Thursday, pleading for his freedom on live TV.
Simpson was convicted in 2008 of an armed robbery involving two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. The 70-year-old is asking the parole board to release him in October after serving the minimum nine years of a 33-year sentence.
He is seated at a plain wooden table and is appearing before the parole board from Lovelock Correctional Center via closed-circuit video. Appearing as inmate No. 1027820, Simpson is being accompanied by lawyer Malcolm LaVergne, prison caseworker Marc La Fleur, close friend Tom Scotto, sister Shirley Baker and daughter Arnelle Simpson.
The hearing is being chaired by Connie Bisbee, with Tony Corda, Adam Endel and Susan Jackson also in attendance via video conferencing from Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners headquarters in Carson City, Nevada. Commissioners Ed Gray and Michael Keeler monitored proceedings from Las Vegas.
If any of the four commissioners monitoring from Carson City vote to deny Simpson’s release, or there is a split, then Gray and Keeler will be asked to weigh in until there is a majority. The seven-member board has one vacancy and — should the vote end in a 3-3 tie — Simpson will have to return for another hearing in January 2018.
The same four commissioners watching from Carson City granted him parole during his last public appearance in 2013 on some of his 12 charges, leaving him with four years to serve before reaching his minimum term.
If he is granted his release, Simpson, who was convicted in 2008 of an armed robbery involving two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room, could be out of prison as early as Oct. 1.
His current sentence end date is Sept. 29, 2022.
Simpson appeared animated as he looked around the room as he entered, recognizing people in the room.
Bisbee mistakenly read that Simpson recently turned 90 years old before correcting herself, and Simpson seized the opportunity to make a joke.
“Feels like it though,” he said as laughter filled the room, helping to break the tension before Simpson was asked to recount his details about what happened during the armed robbery in 2008.
Four years ago, Simpson told the parole board he has kept a promise to stay out of trouble, coaches in the prison gym where he works and counsels other inmates.
Simpson has earned sentencing credits and time off for good behavior, cutting his 33-year maximum sentence by more than half.
He was convicted of enlisting some men he barely knew, including two who had guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.
The robbery was a new low for Simpson, whose celebrity spanned sports, movies, television and advertising before his fall from grace during his highly publicized murder trial in 1995.
Simpson was found not guilty in the 1984 killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. In 1997, he was found liable in civil court for the deaths and ordered to pay $33.5 million to survivors including his children and the Goldman family.
The Goldmans believe Simpson got away with murder in Los Angeles, and many people felt the stiff sentence handed down in Las Vegas wasn’t just about the robbery.
Ron Goldman’s father and sister, Fred and Kim, were not part of Simpson’s parole hearing. A spokesman on Wednesday said the family was apprehensive about how, if Simpson were to be released, “will change their lives again.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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