Simpson given good chance for parole, despite 'O.J. factor'

July 19 (Reuters) - O.J. Simpson is headed for a parole hearing in Nevada this week with legal experts saying he stands a good chance of winning release from prison in October, after serving nine years for a botched attempt to steal mementos from his sports career at gunpoint.

However, one factor that could weigh against his seemingly solid case for parole is the notoriety still surrounding Simpson's acquittal in a sensational double-murder trial that gripped America two decades ago, according to some who have followed his case most closely.

SEE ALSO: A look back at the moment O.J. Simpson swung a golf club at Inside Edition, 20 years later

"What plays against him is the ghost of the murders," Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson told Reuters on Tuesday. Anyone else fitting Simpson's inmate profile would be virtually assured of parole, she said. "What we don't know is how much the O.J. factor will make a difference," Levenson said.

18 PHOTOS
Key Players in the OJ Simpson Trial
See Gallery
Key Players in the OJ Simpson Trial
Defense attorney Robert Shapiro (L) sits next to O.J. Simpson during a preliminary hearing following the murders of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman July 7, 1994 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Prosecutor Marcia Clark complains to the judge 27 February about a second statement by Rosa Lopez, a key defense witness, that was not released by the defense. Lopez, a housekeeper to a neighbor of O.J. Simpson's, claims to have seen a white Ford Bronco outside his home at around the time the prosecution claim the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman took place. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 19: O.J. Simpson (R) whispers to Defense attorney F. Lee Bailey (L) during testimony of FBI special agent William Bodziak 19 June during the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles. Bodziak compared one of O.J. Simpson's tennis shoes to a model of the Italian-made Bruno Magli shoes, which left imprints at the murder scene of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 16: O.J. Simpson defense attorney Alan Dershowitz (standing) gestures during a motion to Judge Lance Ito 16 June in which he said that the standard of juror dismissals must be changed. The defense has accused the prosecution of juror targeting and hiding witnesses. Seated are (L-R) prosecutor Marcia Clark and Scott Gordon. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
Deputy District Attorney Christopher Darden, one of the prosecutors in the OJ Simpson murder trial is shown during a court hearing December 9
OJ Simpson sits in court October 14 with his attorney Robert Shapiro during a hearing in Simpson's murder trial
Defense attorneys Robert Shapiro (L) and Johnnie Cochran, Jr., arrive at the Criminal Courts Building in Los Angeles September 26 for the first day of jury selection in the OJ Simpson murder trial. A protestor's painting on spousal abuse is in the background
Superior Court Judge Lance Ito makes a point during a pre-trial hearing on suppression of evidence in the OJ Simpson murder case September 21 in Los Angeles
Josephine Guarin, housekeeper at OJ Simpson's estate in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, testifies during a pre-trial hearing on evidence suppression in the OJ Simpson murder case September 22
Prosecution witness Candace Garvey, a friend of Nicole-Brown Simpson, testifes about OJ Simpson's appearance at his daughter's dance recital June 12, 1994, during afternoon court session in OJ Simpson's murder trial
Prosecutor Marcia Clark wears rubber gloves as she places a left-hand glove found at the feet of murder victim Ronald Goldman into a plastic bag during OJ Simpson's murder trial, February 17
Denise Brown (L), sister of Nicole-Brown Simpson, cries as she testifies February 6 about Nicole-Simpson's relationship with O.J. Simpson, during morning court session in Simpson's murder trial. Brown wears "Angel" earrings and pins in memory of her sister
FILE PHOTO 16MAR95 - Los Angeles police detective Mark Fuhrman is shown on the witness stand March 16, 1995 during O.J. Simpson's murder trial in Los Angeles. A bloody fingerprint was found at the scene of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman but police bungling destroyed it, Fuhrman says in a new book published on February 17. SIMPSON FINGERPRINT
Prosecutor Brian Kelberg points out a wound near Ronald Goldman's ear on an autopsy chart during testimony June 9 in the OJ Simpson murder trial. The Los Angeles County coroner said that Goldman received two small stabs to the neck in addition to fatal slashes, suggesting that he was taunted by his attacker before being killed
Kim Goldman, sister of murder victim Ron Goldman, reacts to the showing of a photograph of her brother's bloody shirt during the OJ Simpson double murder trial in Los Angeles June 26. The prosecution presented the final phase of its case, trace and hair evidence. **POOR QUALITY DOCUMENT
Arnelle Simpson, daughter of murder defendant OJ Simpson, testifies July 10 on her father's behalf in his double murder trial in Los Angeles. Arnelle Simpson is the first witness in the defense's case
Defense witness Robert Heidstra points during his testimony July 12 at O.J. Simpson's murder trial to the area near where he walked his dog on the night [Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman] were murdered June 12,1994. The chart is a map of the area around Bundy Drive, site of the murders
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The four parole commissioners meeting on Thursday in Carson City are supposed to decide Simpson's fate on the basis of other factors, including his age, his conduct in prison and whether his release would pose a threat to public safety.

Judged by such standards, inmate No. 1027820 at the Lovelock Correctional Center would by all accounts be well-suited for parole, clearing the way for him to walk free once he has finished serving the minimum term of his sentence on Oct. 1.

Besides having already won a favorable parole ruling from the same commissioners four years ago before reaching eligibility for release, the 70-year-old former football star also lacks any prior felony convictions and is reported to have been a model inmate.

Simpson was instrumental in mediating inmate disputes at Lovelock, served as an unofficial "athletic director" in the prison yard, led prayer groups and even lobbied for inmate education funding, said Nevada state Assemblyman Osvaldo Fumo, who was part of Simpson's legal team in a failed appeal of his conviction.

"FORGIVENESS"

Simpson will appear before the parole board by live video feed from prison. He will be joined there by a lawyer and supporters including daughter Arnelle Simpson, sister Shirley Baker and one of his robbery victims, who "plans to express his forgiveness" of Simpson at the hearing, Fumo said.

David Roger, the retired Clark County district attorney who tried Simpson in 2008, said: "Based upon my knowledge of his background and behavior in prison, I expect he will be a very good candidate for getting parole."

In a similar assessment posted last week on the internet forum Reddit, incumbent D.A. Steve Wolfson said: "Most people who are ... 70 years old, who have been model prisoners, will be excellent candidates for parole. Mr. Simpson fits that description."

Wolfson said his wife, retired Judge Jackie Glass, presided over Simpson's Las Vegas trial, sentencing him to a term of nine to 33 years in prison.

A jury found Simpson guilty of all 12 charges against him for storming into a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007 with four cohorts and holding two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint, then making off with thousands of dollars in items he said rightfully belonged to him.

His conviction came exactly 13 years after his 1995 Los Angeles acquittal in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman, who were found stabbed and slashed to death in June 1994.

11 PHOTOS
OJ Simpson car chase, June 17 1994
See Gallery
OJ Simpson car chase, June 17 1994
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Police cars pursue the Ford Bronco driven by Al Cowlings, carrying fugitive murder suspect O.J. Simpson, on a 90-minute slow-speed car chase June 17, 1994 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California. Simpson's friend Cowlings eventually drove Simpson home, with Simpson ducked under the back passenger seat, to Brentwood where he surrendered after a stand-off with police. (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Motorists wave as police cars pursue the Ford Bronco (white, R) driven by Al Cowlings, carrying fugitive murder suspect O.J. Simpson, on a 90-minute slow-speed car chase June 17, 1994 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California. Simpson's friend Cowlings eventually drove Simpson home, with Simpson ducked under the back passenger seat, to Brentwood where he surrendered after a stand-off with police. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Motorists wave signs as police cars pursue the Ford Bronco driven by Al Cowlings, carrying fugitive murder suspect O.J. Simpson, on a 90-minute slow-speed car chase June 17, 1994 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California. Simpson's friend Cowlings eventually drove Simpson home, with Simpson ducked under the back passenger seat, to Brentwood where he surrendered after a stand-off with police. (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Motorists wave as police cars pursue the Ford Bronco (white, R) driven by Al Cowlings, carrying fugitive murder suspect O.J. Simpson, on a 90-minute slow-speed car chase June 17, 1994 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California. Simpson's friend Cowlings eventually drove Simpson home, with Simpson ducked under the back passenger seat, to Brentwood where he surrendered after a stand-off with police. (Photo credit should read MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Motorists stop and wave as police cars pursue the Ford Bronco (white, R) driven by Al Cowlings, carrying fugitive murder suspect O.J. Simpson, on a 90-minute slow-speed car chase June 17, 1994 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, California. Simpson's friend Cowlings eventually drove Simpson home, with Simpson ducked under the back passenger seat, to Brentwood where he surrendered after a stand-off with police. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18: Ex-football superstar O.J. Simpson (C) is accompanied by two LAPD detectives to Parker Center after he was arrested following a 90 minute highway chase 17 June. Simpson has been charged with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman who were brutally slain late 12 June 1994. (Photo credit should read VINCE BUCCI/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: A photograph dated 29 September 1994 of O.J. Simpson in a Los Angeles courthouse during his trial. (Photo credit should read MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 6: Los Angeles Police Detective Tom Lange (L) points to pictures 06 March of the trail of blood at Nicole Brown Simpson's condominium where she and her friend Ron Goldman were murdered 12 June 1994 during testimony in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Lange, one of the lead investigators in the case, was cross-examined by the defense as to his actions at the murder scene. On the right is Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read Lori SHELPER/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 24: Prosecutor Marcia Clark points to a chart as she describes to jurors where evidence was found at O.J. Simpson's home during opening statements in the O.J. Simpson murder trial 24 January in Los Angeles, CA. Simpson is accused of the 12 June 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. (COLOR KEY: Chart has blue border) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 8: Sukru Boztepe points 08 February in a Los Angeles court to O.J. Simpson ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson's condominium where he found her body 'lying down full of blood' just after midnight 12 June 1994. A friend, Ronald Goldman, was also found murdered. (COLOR KEY: Boztepe's shirt is red). AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read POO/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

A civil court jury later found Simpson liable for the deaths and awarded $33.5 million in damages to the victims' families, a judgment renewed in court for another decade and enlarged to about $58 million two years ago. It remains largely unpaid.

Prosecutors said the Las Vegas robbery grew out of grudges Simpson had nursed since his murder trial and civil case.

David Cook, long-time attorney for Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, called his client "the elephant in the room" as Simpson's fate is decided. He vowed to remain dogged in seeking to collect on the judgment against Simpson.

"The good news for Mr. Simpson is he's probably going to get out on Oct. 1," Cook said. "And the bad news is I'm good for another 10 years ... ready to pick up where we last left off."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.