LOVELOCK, NV — O.J. Simpson, the former football player and subject of one of the most televised legal trials in history, may soon be a free man according to legal experts.
Simpson, who was infamously tried and acquitted for the 1994 murders of his former wife Nicole Brown- Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, is currently serving a 9-33 year sentence at Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada after being found guilty in 2008 of 12 counts of robbery and kidnapping.
While lawyers who’ve studied Simpson’s case say it’s likely the now 70-year-old will be granted parole at his next hearing, scheduled for July 20, it’s unlikely that the former B-list actor will find himself living the life of luxury he once enjoyed.
Decades of legal woes, in addition to a $25 million dollar civil judgement against him by the Brown and Goldman families, have left the one time millionaire playboy virtually penniless aside from a football pension that’s protected under California law.
“The big question is, if Simpson is paroled, how would he be received? With open arms? Slammed doors?” columnist Scott Ostler wrote of the former Heisman trophy winner’s ongoing dramas in the San Francisco Chronicle (http://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/article/O-J-Simpson-faces-parole-board-this-month-11274407.php). “He would be retried a million times in the court of public opinion, gossip TV and social media. Psychopathic murderer or frame-up victim? Rehabilitated soul or consummate con man?”
Dubbed by the media as the “trial of the century” Simpson’s trial on double murder charges held the attention of public for months. The images of Simpson’s beautiful blonde wife Nicole nearly decapitated on the steps of her Brentwood, California home after being stabbed to death alongside the much younger Goldman horrified and angered the public and the resulting press coverage turned the daily televised hearings into a what many legal analysts declared a media circus.
The fact that Simpson’s alleged victims were white led to a heightened battle over race relations that continued for years after his acquittal.
Most legal analysts who covered the trial declared the not guilty verdict by the mostly African-American jury a case of jury nullification and Simpson was subsequently found responsible for the murders by a civil jury.
In Nevada, parole consideration is based heavily upon good behavior while behind bars. Based on that scenario, Simpson, known now officially as inmate number 1027820 by the Nevada Department of Corrections, is likely to again walk the streets.
“Assuming that he’s behaved himself in prison, I don’t think it will be out of line for him to get parole,” said David Roger, the retired Clark County district attorney.
Not all legal scholars, however, think parole is an open and shut case.
Michael Shapiro, a New York defense lawyer who provided commentary during Simpson’s conviction in Las Vegas in 2008 and his acquittal in Los Angeles in 1995, says the accused murder’s freedom in this particular case is no certainty.
“The judge (in the robbery and kidnapping case) believed he got away with murder,” Shapiro said. “That’s the elephant in the room. If the parole authorities feel the same way, he could be in trouble.”
If granted, Simpson will likely be be released in early October. If denied, he will likely remain behind bars until his next parole hearing, which would be some time in 2022.