The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 27, 2013

O.J. Simpson says he regrets going after memorabilia

SANDRA CHEREB Associated Press
The Clinton Herald

---- — CARSON CITY, Nev. — O.J. Simpson went before a parole board Thursday and pleaded for leniency on his armed robbery and kidnapping sentence as he expressed regret for his actions and described being an upstanding inmate who earns pennies an hour keeping gym equipment sanitized and umpiring and coaching games in the prison yard.

Simpson also said he has become a counselor of sorts to fellow inmates doing time for similar crimes and noted that he has made amends with his victims in a botched heist of memorabilia in a hotel room in Las Vegas in 2007.

“I just wish I never went to that room,” the 66-year-old Simpson said during a 15-minute appearance.

Parole officials did not immediately rule on his request, which Simpson made remotely from a video conference room the Lovelock Correction Center. But their decision will have little impact on his overall sentence because he is only eligible for parole on five sentences ordered to run concurrently — two counts each of kidnapping and robbery, and one count of burglary with a deadly weapon.

As a result, even if the Nevada Parole Board ruled in his favor, he would then begin serving sentences attached to other charges and spend at least another four years in prison. He still has four weapon enhancement sentences to serve, followed by consecutive terms for two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Parole from those sentences would be considered at future hearings.

His best chance for freedom lies with a pending decision by a Las Vegas judge on whether to grant him a new trial based on claims that his trial lawyer botched his defense and had a conflict of interest in the case. Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell held a weeklong hearing in May on the issue that featured testimony from Simpson.

At the parole hearing, Simpson provided a glimpse of his time in prison since he was sentenced to nine to 33 years behind bars. He said he has served as a counselor of sorts to other inmates who come to him with their issues. But he said he shouldn’t be compared with other inmates.

“The difference between all of their crimes and mine is, they were trying to steal other people’s property,” a graying Simpson said. “They were trying to steal other people’s money.