Update: In his parole board hearing Thursday, O.J. Simpson said he would return to Florida if released from prison. Read the story here.
Years before he was arrested for enlisting men to retrieve stolen sports memorabilia in a Las Vegas hotel room, before tabloids splashed his face on their covers for yet another trial, before he was sentenced for up to 33 years in a Nevada prison for the crime — O.J. Simpson was just a retiree, if a nationally infamous one, in Kendall.
But when the former NFL star and actor pleads for his freedom as inmate No. 1027820 in front of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners on Thursday afternoon, it is unclear if he will say he plans to return to the Miami suburb where he lived for nearly a decade before he began serving his prison sentence in 2008.
Simpson is expected to tell the parole board during his brief hearing, scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern time, where he plans to go if they grant his freedom. Experts have said that, with a clean prison record and a 2013 ruling from the parole board in his favor, he is likely to be released.
Simpson bought his home in South Florida in 2000, five years after he was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in a trial that transfixed the nation by television. He had been found liable in civil court for their deaths in 1997 and ordered to pay $33.5 million to their surviving relatives. That same year, he had sold the expensive Brentwood estate where he had lived when the killings occurred, and where he had driven his white Bronco during the infamous 1994 police chase that ended with his arrest.
When he moved to South Florida, he traded it for the gated four-bedroom, four-bath home in Kendall he purchased for $575,000, and enrolled his son Justin and daughter Sydney in the private Gulliver Schools. But despite afternoons spent on quiet golf courses nearby and the occasional restaurant outing at his favorite local Roasters N’ Toasters with his kids, notoriety followed him, the Miami Herald reported at the time.
Requests for autographs and photos were common, as were shouts of “Juice” when he walked through the neighborhood — a call-back to his nickname when he was a running back for the Buffalo Bills in the ‘70s. The national press descended on South Florida to document such moments, when Simpson was charged for a road-rage incident alleged in December 2000. Another driver had alleged Simpson grabbed his glasses and scratched his face after he honked at Simpson for running a red light, but Simpson was acquitted the following October.
Federal and local law enforcement also searched Simpson’s home in 2001 for evidence of involvement in ecstasy smuggling and found nothing, though the search turned up “bootloader” devices that did lead to a 2005 civil trial judgment forcing Simpson 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. But no charges were ever filed in those cases.
In 2007, police arrested Simpson for trying to orchestrate a heist of autographed footballs and other items he said had been stolen from him several years earlier. Though Simpson claimed stupidity rather than criminal intent in taking back what he said was his, a judge sentenced him to a minimum of nine years at a Nevada state prison that December for 12 charges including robbery, assault and kidnapping.
Simpson was paroled for some of those charges in 2013, when he last appeared in front of the board he is expected to address Thursday. Should he be granted parole for the rest of his charges, Simpson would not be released until October. Nor would it be likely he returns to the South Florida life he had before that trial, if he returns at all: The home in Kendall has been put up for sale.
JPMorgan Chase foreclosed on the Kendall house in 2012, four years after Simpson began serving his sentence, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Global Rental E & P, a Doral investment company, then bought the home in 2014, and sold the home in turn to Southern Farms International USA in 2016.
As of last week, the 4,148 square feet home was listed for just shy of $1.3 million, real estate agent Oscar Ramirez told the Sun Sentinel. “I have had offers, but nothing has been completed.”