O.J. Simpson begged a Nevada parole board for leniency at a hearing on Thursday.
He said that he deeply regretted the events that led to his conviction for robbing the two dealers. He said: “I just wish I never went to that room….I wish I just said keep it.” He told the board that he had been a model inmate at the Lovelock Correction Center near Reno for the past five years. He added that he was determined to: “Do my time as best that I can do.”
Simpson’s problem is that even if the Nevada Parole Board were to rule in his favor, he would then have to begin to serve the sentences connected to other charges. H. Leon Simon, the prosecutor dealing with Simpson’s appeal said on Wednesday: “It doesn’t open the cell door….He’d just start serving the consecutive sentences.”
This preliminary 15 minute parole hearing is being conducted by Parole Commissioner Susan Jackson and representative Robin Bates. The have to make a recommendation to the full parole board which meets next week to come to a final decision. Simpson, dressed in prison garb, spoke on his own behalf; none of the victims chose to speak.
Simpson, in pleading his case, said that he missed his family and that he had not even been allowed to attend his sister’s funeral. He pointed out that he counseled other prisoners, many of whom were serving time for similar offenses to his.
Critical to Simpson’s possibility of release will be the decision of a judge on the question of a new trial. Simpson is claiming that his lawyer had a conflict of interest and presented a poor defense. In May, a hearing on this subject was held in front of Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell. His new lawyers, Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo, questioned Yale Galanter, his former attorney, about his advance knowledge of Simpson’s plan to retrieve his memorabilia.
Simpson continues to argue that he was not stealing anything; he was simply trying to recover his own property that had been stolen from him following his murder trial in 1995.
Judge Bell is now pondering on her decision. And O.J. Simpson can only wait – and hope.