Washington, July 21 (IANS) Former NFL star O.J. Simpson was granted parole and may leave a Nevada prison as early as October after serving nine years for kidnapping and robbery.
A four-person parole board in Nevada voted unanimously on Thursday to release Simpson, who led a group of five into a Las Vegas hotel and casino to rob sports memorabilia that he claimed were his at gunpoint 10 years ago. He was behind bars since 2008 in Las Vegas.
Simpson, 70, took part in the parole hearing via teleconference from Lovelock Correctional Centre and was heard emotionally crying “Oh! God! Oh!” as he heard he was going to be released, Xinhua news agency reported.
He delivered a rambling account of the event to the board, maintaining that he did not intend to steal but “wish this would have never happened” and he is “humbled by his incarceration”.
Found guilty of all 12 counts, Simpson told the board he took “full responsibility” for the armed robbery.
The commissioners who voted to allow Simpson to go free cited the low risk that he might commit another crime, along with his community support and a release plan that includes moving to Florida.
The eldest of Simpson’s four children and one of the collectible dealers Simpson robbed testified on his behalf.
Michelle Glady of the Florida Department of Corrections said Simpson would be assigned a Florida probation officer and supervised under the conditions of his parole.
Simpson told the commissioners that he has missed 36 birthdays and college graduations with his children because of his incarceration.
Simpson’s oldest daughter, 48-year-old Arnelle Simpson, wept after the decision, and told commissioners to let her father come home so they could move forward.
Simpson’s defenders had argued that his sentence was too harsh compared to his crime and that he was being punished for the murders he was acquitted of in Los Angeles in 1995.
Simpson holds many NFL records and is considered one of the greatest running backs in the league’s history.
Simpson played for the Buffalo Bills from 1969 to 1977 and became the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in one season, previously considered unthinkable.
The Nevada conviction came eight years after Simpson was acquitted by a California jury of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Simpson lost a civil judgment in 1997 for their wrongful deaths and was ordered to pay the victims’ families $33.5 million.