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OJ Simpson faces good chance at parole in Nevada robbery

2017-07-17 02:18:53
By KEN RITTER
Associated Press

In this March 24, 1978 file photo, O.J. Simpson, left, smiles next to San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. at a news conference where the 49ers announced that Simpson had been traded to them from the Buffalo Bills, in San Francisco. Simpson, the former football star, TV pitchman and now Nevada prison inmate, will have a lot going for him when he appears before state parole board members Thursday, July 20, 2017, seeking his release after more than eight years for an ill-fated bid to retrieve sports memorabilia. (AP Photo/Sal Veder, file)


LAS VEGAS (AP) O.J. Simpson, the former football star, TV pitchman and now Nevada prison inmate No. 1027820, will have a lot going for him when he asks state parole board members this week to release him after serving more than eight years for an ill-fated bid to retrieve sports memorabilia.

Now 70, Simpson will have history in his favor and a clean record behind bars as he approaches the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence for armed robbery and assault with a weapon. Plus, the parole board sided with him once before.

No one at his Thursday hearing is expected to oppose releasing him in October - not his victim, not even the former prosecutor who persuaded a jury in Las Vegas to convict Simpson in 2008.

''Assuming that he's behaved himself in prison, I don't think it will be out of line for him to get parole,'' said David Roger, the retired Clark County district attorney.

Four other men who went with Simpson to a hotel room to retrieve from two memorabilia dealers sports collectibles and personal items that the former football star said belonged to him took plea deals in the heist and received probation.

Two of those men testified that they carried guns. Another who stood trial with Simpson was convicted and served 27 months before the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that Simpson's fame tainted the jury. Simpson's conviction was upheld.

Prison life was a stunning fall for a charismatic celebrity whose storybook career as an electrifying running back dubbed ''The Juice'' won him the Heisman Trophy as the best college player in 1968 and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

He became a sports commentator, Hollywood movie actor, car rental company spokesman and one of the world's most famous people even before his Los Angeles ''trial of the century,'' when he was acquitted in the killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Simpson, appeared grayer and heavier than most remembered him when he was last seen, four years ago.

He will appear Thursday by videoconference from the Lovelock Correctional Center, to be quizzed by four state parole commissioners in Carson City, a two-hour drive away.

Two other members of the board will monitor the hearing, said David Smith, a parole hearing examiner.

The commissioners will have a parole hearing report that has not been made public, plus guidelines and worksheets that would appear to favor Simpson. It plans to make its written risk assessment public after a decision.

They will consider his age, whether his conviction was for a violent crime (it was), his prior criminal history (he had none) and his plans after release, Smith said.

Nevada has about 13,500 prison inmates, and the governor-appointed Board of Parole Commissioners has averaged about 8,300 annual hearings for the past four years. The rate of inmates who are granted parole in discretionary hearings held as they approach their minimum sentence, like Simpson's, averages about 82 percent.

The same four board members also have experience with Simpson, having granted him parole in July 2013 on some charges - kidnapping, robbery and burglary - stemming from the 2007 armed confrontation. The board's decision left Simpson with four years to serve before reaching his minimum time behind bars.

Board members Connie Bisbee, Tony Corda, Adam Endel and Susan Jackson noted at the time that Simpson had a ''positive institutional record,'' with no disciplinary actions behind bars.

Simpson's lawyer, friends and prison officials say that hasn't changed.

''He's really been a positive force in there. He's done a lot of good for a lot of people,'' said Tom Scotto, a friend from Florida whose wedding Simpson was in Las Vegas to attend the weekend of the robbery.

Scotto said he visits or talks with Simpson every few months.

Simpson leads a Baptist prayer group, mentors inmates, works in the gym, coaches sports teams and serves as commissioner of the prison yard softball league, Scotto said.

Scotto will be among the 15 people with Simpson in a small conference room at the prison, along with Simpson's lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, daughter Arnelle Simpson and sister Shirley Baker.

A parole case worker, two prison guards and a small pool of media also were expected, along with Bruce Fromong, one of the memorabilia dealers who was robbed.

Fromong said he will attend as a victim of the crime but will be ''trying to be good for O.J.'' He said he suffered four heart attacks and severe financial losses as a result of the robbery but later forgave Simpson.

The other collectibles broker, Alfred Beardsley, died in 2015.

Andy Caldwell, a retired Las Vegas police detective who investigated the Simpson case, will be at the prison but won't be in the room.

''I don't want to offer an opinion,'' said Caldwell, now a Christian minister in Mill City, Oregon. ''I'm just curious to see how everything unfolds.''

In a nod to Simpson's celebrity, officials will let the proceedings be streamed live, and the board plans a same-day ruling. A decision usually takes several days.

Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor and longtime Simpson case analyst, predicted a ''tsunami'' of public attention if Simpson wins release.

''If this is the ordinary case, he will be paroled,'' Levenson said. ''But O.J. is never the ordinary case.''

Al Lasso, a Las Vegas defense attorney who has followed the case but does not represent Simpson, said any other defendant in a similar case probably would have gotten probation, not prison.

''I think he spent more than enough time in prison for a robbery in which he didn't even have a gun himself,'' Lasso said.

But Michael Shapiro, a New York defense lawyer who provided commentary during Simpson's conviction in Las Vegas in 2008 and his acquittal in Los Angeles in 1995, said freedom was no certainty.

''The judge believed he got away with murder,'' Shapiro said. ''That's the elephant in the room. If the parole authorities feel the same way, he could be in trouble.''

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This story has been clarified to show that former police Detective Andy Caldwell will be at the prison but not in hearing room and corrects that his church is in Mill City, Oregon, not Lyons, Oregon.

Player Notes
Marlon Mack Sep 20 7:30pm ET

Indianapolis Colts' rookie running back Marlon Mack (shoulder) was limited in practice on Wednesday with a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 2. Mack hasn't had very heavy usage in the Colts' offense thus far in the regular season, but his smaller frame isn't doing him any favors in avoiding injury. He isn't a useful fantasy asset until Frank Gore goes down, but his ceiling will still remain limited unless Andrew Luck returns.

Chris Hogan Sep 20 7:10pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (knee) practiced on Wednesday, but in a limited capacity. Hogan stood out during the team's week 2 win over New Orleans, catching five receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. However, though he played efficiently, he also took a beating throughout the contest, injuring his knee and at one point, his hand. His status for week 3 against the Houston Texans is unknown at this time but fantasy owners will need to keep an eye on things as we get closer to kickoff on Sunday.

Charles Clay Sep 20 7:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday ahead of the team's game against the Denver Broncos in Week 3. Clay had the same designation last week in practice and managed to play 83% of the Bills snaps in Week 2. Thus, this shouldn't be a huge cause for concern, though it is worth noting that the injury listed was to his knee, an injury that has caused him problems throughout much of his career. Assuming he makes it on the field, Clay will likely remain a highly targeted option in the Bills offense. Given the tough matchup against the Broncos, however, it may be best to look elsewhere even if Clay is able to take the field.

Eric Decker Sep 20 6:53pm ET

Tennessee Titans WRs Eric Decker and Rishard Matthews are set to start in Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks with rookie WR Corey Davis (hamstring) sidelined.

Evan Engram Sep 20 6:53pm ET

New York Giants TE Evan Engram (concussion) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Aaron Wallace Sep 20 6:53pm ET

The Tennessee Titans placed LB Aaron Wallace (back) on the Reserve/Injured list on Wednesday, Sept. 20, and he will have surgery. The team also promoted WR Zach Pascal from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Janoris Jenkins Sep 20 6:53pm ET

New York Giants LB B.J. Goodson (shin), OG Bobby Hart (ankle), CB Janoris Jenkins (ankle) and LB J.T. Thomas (groin) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 20. LB Keenan Robinson (concussion) was limited during practice.

Danny Amendola Sep 20 6:50pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (concussion/knee) was a limited participant at Wednesday's practice. This undoubtedly was good news for the team as they have been slammed by injuries since the preseason. Though his status for the week 3 matchup with the Houston Texans is still up in the air, just his presence on the field was a good sign that things are heading in the right direction for the routinely injured wideout. Amendola was impactful in the week one loss to Kansas City and was one of the team's offensive leaders prior to leaving the game early with the injuries. His status will be updated as the week continues to progress so fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on him as we get closer to Sunday.

Odell Beckham Jr. Sep 20 6:43pm ET

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Taywan Taylor Sep 20 6:43pm ET

Tennessee Titans WR Taywan Taylor might see a bump in reps in practice this week with WR Corey Davis (hamstring) already ruled out for Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Corey Davis Sep 20 6:43pm ET

Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 20, and he has already been ruled out for the Week 3 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Jordan Howard Sep 20 6:43pm ET

Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Rob Gronkowski Sep 20 6:40pm ET

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (groin) was present at practice today even though he wasn't technically listed as a participant. Nevertheless, Gronkowski was in full pads while getting in some light blocking drills with fellow tight end Dwayne Allen. Though his official status for today is slightly alarming for fantasy owners, the fact that he was out there and moving around is a good sign that he may be good to go for Sunday's showdown with the Houston Texans. The next few days should serve as an even better indicator regarding his status for week 3 but expect him to be listed on the injury report right up until kickoff.

Jonathan Stewart Sep 20 6:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart has 33 carries through two games and is in a good spot to hit pay dirt in Week 3. The Panthers will face the Saints in Charlotte on Sunday, who rank as the fourth-worst defense against fantasy RB, and Stewart had three touchdowns in two games against New Orleans last season. Stewart will also get more red zone opportunities since Greg Olsen is out and did have 85 yards in his first game against the Saints last season. A lot of Stewart's value will come from him scoring a touchdown, but there is a good chance that he does score, making him a strong flex play.

Cam Newton Sep 20 6:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has not been sharp to open the season, but a matchup against the league's worst defense against QB could change that. The Panthers will host the Saints in Week 3 and Newton had 514 yards and three touchdowns against New Orleans last season. While Newton was only 14-for-33 with 192 yards when the Saints traveled to Charlotte last season, and has 399 yards this season, the Saints have seen their defense regress and Marshon Lattimore (their top cornerback) may be out as well. Look for Newton to approach 300 yards of total offense, score a few touchdowns, and regain his value as a top QB.

Josh Norman Sep 20 6:33pm ET

Washington Redskins S Deshazor Everett (knee), LB Mason Foster (shoulder), OT Morgan Moses (ankle, shoulder), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder) and CB Josh Norman (shoulder) were limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 20. WR Josh Doctson (hamstring) and C Spencer Long (knee) fully participated in practice.

Vic Beasley Sep 20 6:33pm ET

Atlanta Falcons LB Vic Beasley (hamstring), OT Ryan Schraeder (concussion) and DT Courtney Upshaw (ankle, knee) did not practice Wednesday, Sept. 20, and have already been ruled out for Week 3. RB Brian Hill (ankle) was a full participant in practice.

Kendall Wright Sep 20 6:33pm ET

Chicago Bears OT Tom Compton (hip), LB Nick Kwiatkowski (chest), QB Mark Sanchez (neck) and OG Josh Sitton (ribs) were unable to practice Wednesday, Sept. 20. CB Prince Amukamara (ankle), RB Benny Cunningham (ankle), DE Akiem Hicks (shoulder), RB Jordan Howard (shoulder), OG Kyle Long (ankle) and WR Kendall Wright (shoulder) were limited participants, while S Deon Bush (hamstring) and WR Markus Wheaton (finger) practiced in full.

Kelvin Benjamin Sep 20 6:30pm ET

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin will likely see the majority of the targets without Greg Olsen in the lineup and opportunities like that could lead to a massive game. Benjamin and the Panthers will play the Saints in Week 3, who rank last against fantasy WR, and he had 11 catches for 142 yards against New Orleans last season in two games. The Panthers are likely to throw frequently against the Saints on Sunday and Benjamin was targeted 10 times or more three times last season; he posted 84, 86, and 91 yards in those games. If Benjamin is able to snag a touchdown, which is likely considering that he is the top red zone target without Olsen, look for him to approach 20 points in PPR leagues.

Christian McCaffrey Sep 20 6:30pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has 30 touches over his first two games and could really break out against the Saints in Week 3. McCaffrey only has 129 total yards over the first two games of his NFL career, but New Orleans has the fourth-worst defense against running backs and just allowed James White to catch eight passes for 85 yards in Week 2. If the Saints are unable to cover McCaffrey, look for him to run wild and take advantage of New Orleans' porous defense. He is valued as a low-end RB2 or strong flex play.