NEW YORK — The country’s most notorious sports figure-turned-criminal, O.J. Simpson, will appear before a parole board Thursday, asking to be released after serving the minimum sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.
Simpson, known as “Juice” in his football days, has served nine years, and faces a maximum of 33 years.
If paroled, Simpson could be released as early as October, spokesman for the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners David Smith told CNN.
The parole hearing has drawn immense interest nationwide, prompting numerous news stories early Thursday and #OJSimpsonParole to trend on Twitter.
The entire meeting between Simpson and the Nevada Board of Parole will be streamed live in its entirety on the PIX11 Facebook page. Anyone interested in watching it live should click this link at 1 p.m., or refresh this page. Highlights of the hearing will also appear on on this page.
Despite his 2008 conviction, Simpson is best known for his 1995 acquittal in the “trial of the century,” following the infamous killing of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.
There has been a recent surge of interest in the trial following the 2016 release of the FX true-crime drama “The People v. O.J. Simpson” and award-winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America.”
Simpson and an associate were convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for attempting to steal pieces of Simpson sports memorabilia at gunpoint.
At his 2008 sentencing, the Hall of Fame running back said he went to the room in The Palace Station hotel to reclaim family heirlooms and other personal items that had been taken from him. He also claimed he didn’t know his associates were armed.
The case, which featured a colorful cast of seedy characters, secret recordings and a Las Vegas heist, read like a low-budget parody of “Ocean’s 11,” CNN wrote at the time.
Simpson’s legal team argued that his sentence did not match the crime and that it was, in fact, a form of payback for his controversial acquittal in the deaths of Brown and Goldman.
Simpson has always denied that he killed Brown and Goldman. Their families won a wrongful death civil judgment against him in 1997.
At a parole hearing in 2013, Simpson said he regretted the Las Vegas kidnapping and robbery.
“I just wish I had never gone to that room. I wish I had just said ‘keep it’ and not worry about it,” he said. “All I can do about it since I’ve been here is be as respectful and as straightforward as I could be.”
How the parole hearing works
Simpson’s minimum sentence was nine years, so this year is the first that he could be released on parole. In the 2013 hearing, he was granted parole on 5 of the 12 counts against him. At Thursday’s hearing, set for 1 p.m. ET, he will have to make parole on the other seven counts in order to be released.
He will speak for about 30-45 minutes via video-conference from prison with four parole board commissioners who are in Carson City. Those members will then leave to deliberate.
If the four parole board members do not unanimously agree, then two other commissioners from Las Vegas will be called to vote. Simpson needs a simple majority vote to be granted parole. If the vote splits 3-3, parole will be denied and another hearing will be held in six months.
The parole board scores an inmate on several factors — the higher the total score, the greater the risk involved in releasing them. A person with a score of zero to five points is deemed low risk; six to 11 points, medium risk; and 12 or more, high risk. In 2013, Simpson scored three points overall.
Should Simpson again be judged a low risk, the board still has the latitude to deny him parole. Should that happen, Simpson would go before the parole board again before 2020, Smith said.
Bruce Fromong, a victim in the robbery and kidnapping, has said he plans to testify at the parole hearing to advocate for Simpson’s release. “I’m not doing it because he’s my friend, which he is. I am doing because the right thing to do,” Fromong told CNN.
CNN and PIX11’s Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.