25 years after murders, OJ Simpson says 'Life is fine'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — After 25 years living under the shadow of one of the nation's most notorious murder cases, O.J. Simpson says his life has entered a phase he calls the "no negative zone."

In a telephone Interview, Simpson told The Associated Press he is healthy and happy living in Las Vegas. And neither he nor his children want to look back by talking about June 12, 1994 — when his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman , were killed and Simpson quickly was transformed in the public mind from revered Pro Football Hall of Fame hero to murder suspect.

"We don't need to go back and relive the worst day of our lives," Simpson said. "The subject of the moment is the subject I will never revisit again. My family and I have moved on to what we call the 'no negative zone.' We focus on the positives."

RELATED: Key players in the OJ Simpson trial

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Key Players in the OJ Simpson Trial
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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
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For a man who once lived for the spotlight , Simpson has been keeping a largely low profile since his release from prison in October 2017 after serving nine years for a robbery-kidnapping conviction in Las Vegas. He continues to believe his conviction and sentence for trying to steal back his own memorabilia were unfair but says, "I believe in the legal system and I honored it. I served my time."

After his release from the prison in Lovelock, Nevada, many expected him to return to Florida where he had lived for several years. But friends in Las Vegas persuaded him to stay there despite the case that landed him in prison.

He's glad he did.

"The town has been good to me," Simpson said. "Everybody I meet seems to be apologizing for what happened to me here."

His time in the city hasn't been without controversy, however. A month after his release an outing to a steakhouse and lounge at the Cosmopolitan resort off the Las Vegas Strip ended in a dispute. Simpson was ordered off the property and prohibited from returning.

No such problems have occurred since, and Simpson is among the most sought-after figures in town for selfies with those who encounter him at restaurants or athletic events he attends occasionally.

He plays golf almost every day and said he is a member of a club of "retired guys" who compete with each other on the golf course. The knees that helped him run to football glory at the University of Southern California and with the NFL's Buffalo Bills have been replaced and he recently had Lasik surgery on his eyes. But nearing his 72nd birthday, he is otherwise healthy.

Simpson said he remains close to his children and other relatives. His parole officer has given him permission to take short trips including to Florida where his two younger children, Justin and Sydney, have built careers in real estate.

His older daughter, Arnelle, lives with him much of the time but also commutes to Los Angeles.

"I've been to Florida two or three times to see the kids and my old buddies in Miami. I even managed to play a game of golf with them," he said. "But I live in a town I've learned to love. Life is fine."

He also visited relatives in Louisiana, he said, and spoke to a group of black judges and prosecutors in New Orleans.

Recently, a family wedding brought his extended family to Las Vegas including his brother, Truman; sister, Shirley; and their children and grandchildren. Simpson's first wife, Marguerite, mother of Arnelle, also joined the group.

The glamor of his early life is just a memory.

After his football career, Simpson became a commercial pitchman, actor and football commentator. He was once a multimillionaire but he says most of his fortune was spent defending himself after he was charged with the murders.

His televised "Trial of the Century" lasted nearly a year and became a national obsession. He was acquitted by a jury in 1995 and has continued to declare his innocence. The murder case is officially listed as unsolved.

The families of the victims subsequently filed a civil suit against him, and in 1997 a civil court awarded a $33.5 million judgment against him for the wrongful deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman. Some of his property was seized and auctioned but most of the judgment has not been paid.

Simpson declined to discuss his finances other than to say he lives on pensions.

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Linda Deutsch is a retired special correspondent for The Associated Press. She covered all of Simpson's legal cases during her 48-year career as a Los Angeles-based trial reporter.

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