CARSON CITY, Nev. (KTVU) - A parole board on Thursday unanimously decided to release O.J. Simpson after serving nearly nine years of a 33-year-sentence for assault with a deadly weapon and armed robbery.
He could be released as early as Oct. 1. He pleaded his case before four members of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners through video teleconference. The chair of the commission, Connie Bisbee, however, told him that parole violations are taken very seriously in Nevada, warning him not to get into any trouble.
Simpson took pains to say he won't get into trouble in the future, and that he hasn't been a menace in prison either. He did acknowledge, however, that there was room for improvement.
“I realize in my nine years here, that I was a good guy on the street," the 70-year-old Simpson told the panel through video conference at Lovelock Correctional Facility. “I was always a good guy, but I could have been a better Christian.”
Simpson was convicted in 2008 in Las Vegas after he and five other men who were carrying guns, confronted two sports memorabilia dealers and took pieces of memorabilia from them. He has said many times that he never knew his accomplices were carrying guns and that he would never pull a gun on someone. He repeated that theme throughout his lengthy testimony.
No one came to oppose Simpson at the 90-minute hearing. Robbery victim Bruce Fromong, urged the board to release Simpson, taking some blame for the night of the robbery himself, saying he acted like a "coward" that day.
Reaction to Simpson's release was mixed. On KTVU's Facebook page, Karen lee wrote "this man does not deserve to be free." But Joban Pants wrote: "Remember, he was tried and found not guilty of murder. This is a robbery cas. Nine years is more than enough."
While Simpson's parole hearing involved in Nevada conviction, the country was set on edge more than 20 years ago when the former football star was acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman.
His daughter, Arnelle Simpson, testified before the commissioners asking them to let her father come home despite his weaknesses.
"He's my best friend,” she said. “He's my rock. We recognize he is not the perfect man."
In his closing plea to the board Simpson said: "I am sorry that things turned out the way they did. I had no intent to commit a crime...I'd like to get back to my family and friends. Believe it or not I do have some real friends."
KTVU'S Ken Wayne contributed to this report from Carson City, Nevada.