One of the biggest criminal cases in modern history is the OJ Simpson murder trial. It’s created huge controversy, was hugely publicised, had its own catchy slogan (‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’), inspired several dramatic retellings, is probably responsible for dozens of Trivial Pursuit questions and made Keeping Up With the Kardashians possible. That trial was a significant part of ’90s pop culture. If there’s one thing literally everyone knows about that case though, it’s that despite overwhelming evidence, OJ never went to jail for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. So why on earth is he up for parole right now if he never went to jail?
Here’s the thing: OJ went to jail, but not for murder. The former NFL player and actor was actually busted for armed theft and kidnapping in 2007, 13 years after the murders. According to testimony from the trial, Simpson was one of a group of men who broke into the Las Vegas hotel room of a sports memorabilia salesman and stole Simpson merchandise at gunpoint. Simpson testified that he was just trying to reclaim what was his own property and had sentimental value, unaware that the men he was with were carrying weapons. The kidnapping charge was added on because Simpson ordered everyone to stay in the hotel room while they took the merchandise. Simpson was found guilty on 12 counts (on the same date he was acquitted of the murder 13 years earlier, by the way) and sentenced to 33 years in prison, eligible for parole after nine.
So it’s been nine years and it’s hearing time. He was granted parole on some accounts in a 2013 hearing (but ‘some accounts’ doesn’t get you out of jail). This is the first opportunity Simpson has had at real freedom. The parole board will score him on a number of factors–the higher the score, the more risk releasing him. Some of those factors are: behaviour while incarcerated, age, drug use/abuse and willingness to undergo a treatment program. According to a defence attorney interviewed by CNN, Simpson has been a ‘model prisoner’ and fits the profile of someone who would be granted parole on the first try.
If his parole request is granted, Simpson will be released in October of this year. If he is rejected, he will be able to make another case to the board before 2020. According to Simpson, he is rehabilitated and ready to re-enter society. We’ll see what the board says.