O.J. Simpson, appearing as inmate No. 1027820 in front of a Nevada parole board, learned Thursday he will be a free man in October and said he plans to return to Florida, the state where he lived before he went to prison nearly nine years ago.
The former NFL star and actor told the board’s four members that he would leave Nevada after his release from a state prison, where he has served more than eight years on charges connected to an armed robbery attempt in a Las Vegas hotel room.
“Thank you, thank you,” Simpson, 70, told the board after the decision was reached.
“I have four kids,” Simpson said when a parole officer asked why he wanted out of prison. “I’ve missed a lot of time with those kids.”
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“I’ve done my time,” he added.
After Simpson’s testimony to the board, his daughter Arnelle Simpson spoke on his behalf. She said that no one knows how much their family has been through.
“As a family we recognize he’s not the perfect man,” she said. “But as a man and a father, he has done his best.”
In 2007, police arrested Simpson for enlisting several men, two armed with guns, to retrieve stolen autographed footballs and other items he said had been taken from him several years earlier. The following year, he was convicted and a judge sentenced him to 33 years at a Nevada state prison for 12 charges, including robbery and assault. Simpson received parole on some of those charges in 2013 — but wasn’t released — when he last appeared in front of the board that heard his request Thursday.
Simpson said he was sincerely contrite for the robbery attempt and that he “wished it would have never happened.” He said if granted parole, “I want to get back to my kids and my family.”
His oldest child, Arnelle Simpson, told the parole board her father was her “best friend and my rock,” and that she had seen him humbled by his prison sentence.
“We just want him to come home so that we can move forward for us,” she said.
Parole board members voted on Simpson’s parole immediately after the hearing. Among the factors they cited in their decision was Simpson’s clean prison record while he was incarcerated.
Simpson smiled widely and appeared to be near tears after the decision was read. He will remain in the medium-security Lovelock Correctional Center in Pershing County, Nevada, until October. A longtime friend of Simpson, Tom Scotto, told USA Today before the hearing that Simpson might live with him in Naples after he is released. Simpson’s two children who once lived in Kendall with their dad are now in St. Petersburg.
Simpson moved to South Florida in 1999, buying in 2000 the four-bedroom, four-bath home at 9450 SW 112th St. in a gated community in Kendall for $575,000.
He moved here after his Oct. 3, 1995, acquittal in the stabbing deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, who were slashed to death in the front yard of her condo in June 1994. Millions watched Simpson’s trial on live TV.
Two years later, he was found liable for their deaths in a civil judgment, and was ordered to pay $33.5 million to their surviving relatives. He has paid a portion of that amount.
Simpson moved here with his son Justin and his daughter Sydney, whom he enrolled in the private school Gulliver. A judge had granted him full custody of the children, who were being cared for by Nicole Brown Simpson’s parents while Simpson was on trial.
But despite afternoons spent on quiet golf courses nearby and the occasional restaurant outing at his favorite Roasters N’ Toasters deli with his kids, notoriety followed him.
In December 2000, Simpson was charged in a road-rage incident after a driver alleged Simpson grabbed his glasses and scratched his face after he honked at him for running a red light. Simpson was acquitted the following October.
In 2001, federal and local law enforcement searched Simpson’s home for evidence of involvement in Ecstasy smuggling and found nothing, though the search turned up “bootloader” devices that led to a 2005 civil judgment against Simpson. He was ordered to pay $25,000 to DirecTV for pirating satellite signals.
In 2002, he was cited for speeding on a boat through a manatee zone and fined.
A handful of 911 calls to Miami-area police over the years also documented spats between him and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Christie Prody. One involved an argument at a Miami hotel, which included allegations of Prody slapping and kicking him. No charges were filed in those cases.
On Oct. 3, 2008 —13 years to the day after his acquittal in the murders — Simpson was convicted of taking a group of accomplices, two of them armed, to a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007 to steal items from a sports memorabilia dealer. Though Simpson claimed stupidity rather than criminal intent in taking back what he said was his, a judge sentenced him to 33 years in prison.
When he’s released in October, it’s unlikely he’ll return to the same South Florida life he had before his Vegas trial. He lost his Kendall home in foreclosure proceedings in 2013.
The home’s current owner, Southern Farms International, a Weston investment firm, has put the house on the market. The asking price: $1.3 million, down from $1.475 million, according to Jose Lambiet’s Gossip Extra.
McClatchy reporter Kate Irby contributed to this report.