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O.J. Simpson Granted Parole From Prison By Nevada Board

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today, a new page in the O.J. Simpson saga - he's been granted parole. The sports-star-turned-murder-defendant was sent to prison nine years ago for his role in an armed robbery. It happened in Las Vegas. He's been serving time in Nevada's Lovelock prison. He assured the state board via video conference that he deserves parole.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

O J SIMPSON: I've done my time. You know, I've done it as well and as respectfully as I think anybody can.

CORNISH: And the board agreed. Simpson could be released as early as October 1. Josh Peter of USA Today is covering the story. He joins us now. And Josh, let's play the moment Simpson heard the ruling from the parole court.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CONNIE BISBEE: Mr. Simpson, I do vote to grant parole when eligible. And that will conclude this hearing.

SIMPSON: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

CORNISH: Was this unexpected?

JOSH PETER: No. In fact it was expected. I think there are a couple of things at play here. One, they use a risk assessment instrument in Nevada. And it's a 15-point system. The lower the score, the better. And Simpson scored very well for a couple of reasons. One, he had no violations for discipline behaviors while he was in prison here in Nevada - and secondly, no prior convictions. And I know a lot of people might have trouble with that based on their feelings of the 1994 murders of his former wife and Ron Goldman. But as far as the board of parole is concerned - no conviction history, and that that played well for him. That worked in his advantage.

CORNISH: Right. As you mentioned, it's been more than 10 years since he was acquitted in the double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The crime that actually put him in prison happened in 2007. Remind us how this Las Vegas robbery led to prison time.

PETER: Well, O.J. talked at length about it, and we'll go over just a little bit here now. As he recounted, he had gotten a call from someone who said that they knew the possessions of his were in the possession of someone else. It didn't belong to that person. It belonged to O.J. And this person apparently badgered him to try and retrieve the items. And at some point, O.J. agreed. He said he happened to be in Las Vegas for a friend's wedding in 2007 and set out to reclaim the things that he said belonged himself.

At that point, things sort of went awry. Two other men became involved. There was a gun. There were some, I guess, bullying involved. And before you know it, he's arrested and facing charges for kidnapping and robbery, use of a deadly weapon. And it did not go well for Mr. Simpson. I think he eventually got back some of those belongings. But he paid a pretty stiff price.

CORNISH: He's 70 years old now. Where will he go, and how will his parole actually work?

PETER: Well, he'd like to head back to Florida. He's going to need permission from Florida. Florida's already said that they have conditionally accepted him. He'll have to meet Nevada criteria, Florida says, for them to officially approve. But it looks good for him. It looks like everything will work out with that.

He will need to set up a supervision plan. He will have a parole officer. I'm sure he'll have to report pretty regularly or at least periodically to this parole officer. I think they're convinced that he's got a pretty good support system in Florida. His two youngest children, Sydney and Justin, are both in Florida. He's got close friends in Florida.

And the parole board seemed to be in favor of his plan. I'm sure they're going vet it a little bit more. He's got 10 weeks left in his sentence or until he's eligible for release. And they'll probably be working on a lot of these details until then. But they say they don't think - they don't anticipate any delay in his release.

CORNISH: Finally, Simpson does owe millions of dollars to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman for the civil and wrongful death suit. What happens with that?

PETER: Well, it's a little bit up in the air. But the Goldman's family attorney said a couple days ago, if O.J.'s released October 1, we'll be there on October 2. So they certainly intend to get as much money as they can. I think there's just some - a little bit of confusion about whether or not the money he has in pensions is eligible to be claimed by the Goldmans. And that's something that'll have to be worked out.

CORNISH: Josh Peter of USA Today, thank you.

PETER: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.