OJ Simpson parole hearing live: The Hall of Famer seeks his freedom – Washington Post
Possibly late Thursday afternoon, O.J. Simpson may learn whether the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners will decide to free him in the fall or whether he will continue to serve a nine-to-33-year sentence for 12 convictions, including kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming from a 2007 sting operation in which he tried to recover sports memorabilia from two collectors.
The media scrutiny in the hearing is less intense than it was for the 1995 murder trial in which he was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman, but the possibility that the Hall of Fame running back and former actor soon will be free again has drawn massive attention, including live coverage on multiple networks and platforms. Proceedings are expected to get underway about 1 p.m. EDT.
Four members of the board in the Carson City, Nev., Probation and Parole Division office are hearing Simpson’s case with Simpson, inmate No. 1027820, remaining, as he has for almost nine years, in the medium-security Lovelock Correctional Center about 100 miles away. In addition to his lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, his elder daughter, Arnelle, is expected to attend the hearing, along with his sister, Shirley Baker, and his friend Tom Scotto. Only a handful of media members will have access to that room.
Renee Baker, the warden at Lovelock, declined to say whether her most famous prisoner might be getting out this fall. “We’ll see [Thursday],” she told the Associated Press.
Simpson, who turned 70 earlier this month, last spoke publicly during a brief 2013 hearing in which he was paroled on several of the lesser charges against him. At that time, he apologized and offered an explanation for his actions. “My crime was trying to retrieve for my family my own property,” he said. “Make no mistake, I would give it all back to get these last five years back.”
Testimony in these hearings is limited to the inmate, a representative of his, victims of the crime (or their direct family members) and one family member or supporter. The board will consider a pre-sentence investigation, a parole hearing report, a risk assessment and letters of support or opposition. It is not expected that victims or prosecutors would protest his parole. Post-release plans also are discussed and the board typically weighs a points system that considers, among other things, criminal history, age and gender, history of alcohol and/or drug abuse, and behavior as an inmate. Commissioners are not limited to just considering the points system, though.
After the hearing, members of the board deliberate privately and vote. After that, according to the Nevada parole board website, the public hearing will resume and each member will vote on the record. “A majority of four of the seven members of the Board is required to reach a decision to grant or deny parole. The panel for this hearing consists of four members which constitutes a majority of the Board,” the site says. That means that all four present must be in agreement. “If the panel is unanimous in its decision, it will become the decision of the Board and no additional voting is necessary. If the panel is not unanimous, additional board members will be immediately contacted to review the case and vote until there are four votes to grant or deny parole.”
(The seventh commissioner will not be seated until after the Simpson hearing, so it is conceivable that the board could end up deadlocked at 3-3. That would result in another hearing in six months.)
In a 2013 hearing that lasted 15 minutes, Simpson was granted parole for some of the lesser counts on which he was convicted. That time, the panel consisted of two board members who deliberated and gave their recommendation to the full seven-member board. After about two weeks, the decision was handed down. This time, because the board wants to minimize the media circus and return to its work as quickly as possible, four board members will be present.
If parole is granted, Simpson would be freed “on or after Oct. 1.” If it is denied, a rehearing date will be set by the panel. Denial periods, the board’s website says, “are generally set at periods of one to three years from the eligibility date of the inmate.”
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