A killer named O.J. Simpson goes free again, it was announced at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Carson City, Nev., on Thursday. He goes free, as early as Oct. 1, after having served nine years at Lovelock that had very little to do with armed robbery and almost everything to do with the fact that in Nevada nine years ago Simpson finally ended up in a courtroom where a judge named Jackie Glass did what a jury in Los Angeles did not do in 1995: Put this bum away for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and a young man named Ron Goldman.
The only thing that Glass could not do that day was make sure that Simpson never spent another day of his miserable life as a free man for the stabbing deaths of Nicole and Ron on a June night in 1994. But Glass did enough that day when she finally put Simpson in a prison cell where he belonged. If her decision wasn’t about the letter of the law, it was about the spirit of the law.
Back in 2008 Judge Glass said that her decision for Simpson to serve at least nine years of a 33-year sentence because he was with men with guns when he decided to take back some of his own memorabilia in a Las Vegas hotel room was no “payback for anything else.” If it wasn’t, it should have been. Simpson still hasn’t done nearly enough time.
There he was on Thursday, a 70-year old man carrying himself as if he were still “The Juice” — about to run down the field with a football, or through an airport in a Hertz commercial. In some ways, this was a dream day for a bad guy who now gets the rest of his sentence off for good behavior, after a crime committed by him and some other slobs in that hotel room in 2007. Simpson was allowed to defend himself one last time on the events of that day, when he thought all he was doing was righteously taking back his “stuff.” His possessions.
But then he thought Nicole Brown Simpson was a possession, too, well after she’d stopped being his wife. Nobody pulled a gun on her in the last moments of her life. Just a knife.
“Nobody has ever accused me of holding any weapon on them,” Simpson said to the four members of the parole board in front of him on this day.
Of course his ex-wife and Ron Goldman never got the chance to do that. By the time the police in Los Angeles had him as the one and only suspect, the two of them had already bled out and died in front of Nicole’s home in Brentwood. The jury finally acquitted Simpson in what was called the “Trial of the Century,” a monstrous crime that made Simpson more famous because of two deaths than he was as one of the greatest running backs in all of football history.
Then he went after his “stuff” in Vegas, backed by men with guns. Then Jackie Glass did what prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden were unable to do that in that trial: She put him in that cell. When it was announced on Thursday that his sentence would end in less than two-and-a-half months, there was a smattering of applause in the room at Lovelock, for the guy who once heard the cheers in the biggest stadiums in this country.
There O.J. Simpson was on Thursday, his neediness to be liked by the men and women on that parole board as pathetic as it has always been with him. He seemed thrilled when he would say something that got a laugh, or even a smile. Again: In his mind, despite everything that has happened to him since that June night in 1994, he still thinks of himself as “The Juice,” not as Inmate No. 1027820, a number he recited when asked on this day as if he were telling the people in the room that he once wore No. 32.
“I was always a good guy,” O.J. Simpson said with a straight face.
“I’ve always thought I’ve been good with people,” he said.
He kept talking about his four children at Lovelock, the two he had with his first wife, Marguerite, and the son and daughter he had with Nicole. He talked about all the time he’s lost with all of them, but you wonder if he ever thinks about the time he cost the younger two children with their mother. You wonder how those two children think their mother and Ron Goldman died that night. You wonder who they honestly believe murdered them with a knife in cold blood.
“I’ve led a conflict-free life,” Simpson said, and then talked about the virtues and value of an “Alternatives to Violence” course he took while he was at Lovelock, which you have to say gave him religion a little late in the church service.
“I thought I was a good guy,” Simpson said.
He’s not. He’s a bad guy who got away with murder once and then was dumb enough to walk himself right into an armed robbery beef 13 years later. They couldn’t hold him forever on that charge. You wish they could have. O.J. Simpson finally apologized for that robbery on Thursday. At least this bum finally apologized for something.