A former American football star and actor, O.J. Simpson, was granted parole on Thursday and will be released from a Nevada prison in October.
The release was ordered by the authorities, following an emotional hearing that centred on the botched armed robbery of his own mementoes at a Las Vegas hotel, which landed him in jail for nine years.
A four-member panel of the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners voted unanimously to release the 70-year-old former National Football League star-turned television pitchman and actor.
He is now best remembered as the defendant in a sensational double-murder trial that gripped America two decades ago.
Simpson participated by video feed from Lovelock Correctional Center, about 100 miles (160 km) from the parole board’s offices in Carson City.
He sat at on a wooden table next to his attorney dressed in a prison-issue denim shirt and dark pants.
A smiling Simpson, with close-cropped gray hair and looking thinner than at his last parole hearing in 2013, testified along with his daughter and one of the victims in the 2007 heist.
He offered a rambling account of the robbery, at times striking a defensive tone, and at others, sounding apologetic.
A board spokesman said that Nevada law does not require an expression of remorse as a criterion for winning parole, though he said it could be noted as a mitigating factor.
Simpson bowed his head and appeared to be in tears as the board voted unanimously to grant him parole; he then stood and thanked the commissioners repeatedly, hands clasped.
“I have done my time, I have done it as well and respectfully as anyone can.
“None of this would have happened if I had better judgment,” Simpson said during the hearing.
Among reasons, the commissioners gave for granting parole once Simpson completes the minimum of his nine-to-33-year sentence on Oct. 1 is his compliance with prison rules.
Lack of prior criminal convictions and his minimal safety risk to the public also aided his plea for parole.
In spite of the previous murder charges against Simpson, commissioners did not challenge his assertion that he had spent a largely conflict-free life and had always been “pretty good to people”.
Simpson, known during his football career as the “Juice”, said he was ready to spend time with his children and friends and could handle the public attention he would get.
“I’m not a guy that has conflicts on the streets; I don’t expect to have any when I leave here,” he told the commissioners.
Simpson’s adult daughter, Arnelle, told the hearing that his father’s incarceration had been hard on his family.
“No one really knows how much we have been through this ordeal in the last nine years.
“He is like my best friend and like my rock,” she said.
Bruce Fromong, one of the sports memorabilia dealers Simpson was convicted of robbing, said he had long ago forgiven the man he called a close friend.
“This is a good man. He made a mistake. But if he calls me tomorrow and said, ‘Bruce I’m getting out, will you pick me up, I’ll be here tomorrow for him.”
The second robbery victim was Alfred Beardsley, who according to Simpson’s lawyer, made amends with Simpson years before his death in 2015.
Simpson hopes to move to Florida, where he has friends and family when he is released, but the plan must first be approved by probation authorities there.
“I could easily stay in Nevada, but I don’t think you guys want me here,” Simpson said during the hearing.
The board’s Chairwoman, Connie Bisbee, replied: “No comment.”
The commissioners said they did not take into consideration the notoriety still surrounding Simpson’s 1995 acquittal from charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
In a subsequent civil court trial, he was found liable for the deaths and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.
Simpson will probably be transferred, in the final weeks of his incarceration, to one of two other Nevada prisons used to accommodate soon-to-be-released inmates.