CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — O.J. Simpson goes before a Nevada parole panel Thursday to plead for leniency in his 2008 kidnapping and robbery case, but even a favorable decision won’t spring the former football star from prison.
Simpson was sentenced to consecutive terms on several charges. But some of his sentences were ordered to run concurrently — two counts each of kidnapping and robbery and one count of burglary. The parole panel will consider those concurrent sentences on Thursday, David Smith, a hearing examiner with the Board of Parole Commissioners, said late Wednesday.
In the event the Nevada Parole Board rules in his favor, he would then begin sentences attached to other charges.
“It doesn’t open the cell door,” H. Leon Simon, the prosecutor handling Simpson’s appeal, said Wednesday. “He’d just start serving the consecutive sentences.”
Simpson’s 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 the 66-year-old former NFL star, who was acquitted of murder in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend.
A two-member panel in Carson City will hear Simpson’s parole petition Thursday morning. Simpson is scheduled to participate by video conferencing from the Lovelock Correctional Center. Only Simpson, his representatives or victims are allowed to comment. Documents filed as part of the parole hearing are confidential.
The panel is expected to make a recommendation the same day. It will then be forwarded to the seven-member parole board for consideration. Simpson would need four votes for parole approval.
Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass sentenced Simpson in December 2008 to nine to 33 years in prison on charges including first-degree kidnapping and robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
During a hearing in May, Simpson’s current lawyers, Pamela Palm and Ozzie Fumo, presented evidence and questioned witnesses including trial lawyer Yale Galanter about whether he knew in advance about the September 2007 plan for Simpson and several other men to confront to memorabilia deals in a Las Vegas hotel room.
Simpson argues that he was trying to retrieve items stolen from him after his 1995 “trial of the century” acquittal in Los Angeles.
Bell hasn’t indicated when she plans to issue her decision, but told a KSNV-TV interviewer for a segment aired this week in Las Vegas that she still had “some writing to do.”