LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Onetime “Trial of the Century” defendant O.J. Simpson could be freed as early as Sunday from prison in Nevada, where he has been held since 2008 for a botched robbery, but the time and place of his release remain secret, his plans largely unknown.
Simpson, 70, won his freedom from a Nevada parole board in July after nine years behind bars, at a hearing that did not take into account his 1990s trial for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and a friend, Ron Goldman.
The onetime football star turned actor and TV pitchman nicknamed “The Juice” during his playing career was found not guilty in 1995 following that sensational, 13-month trial in Los Angeles, which was televised live daily, transfixing much of the nation.
A civil court jury subsequently found him liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families, a judgment that remains largely unpaid.
The Nevada Department of Corrections, seeking to avoid the kind of media frenzy that often accompanies Simpson, has declined to say exactly when and where he would be released.
A department spokeswoman warned media not to try to chase his vehicle from the prison gates, saying officials could postpone the release for weeks if necessary to avoid “risk to the community” from such a frenzy.
Also unclear is the former star athlete’s ultimate destination. He told parole board members he hopes to move to Florida, where he has friends and family, a plan that must be approved by probation authorities there.
During the parole hearing, Simpson joked that he was willing to stay in Nevada, but “I’m sure you don’t want me here.”
His Las Vegas-based attorney, Malcom LaVergne, reiterated the Florida plans during an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program on Friday, adding that his client was looking forward to spending time with family members, eating steak and seafood and buying an iPhone.
LaVergne could not be reached for comment by Reuters.
Florida corrections officials say they had not received a parole transfer request for Simpson and had not been contacted by their counterparts in Nevada.
Simpson is a native of California, born in San Francisco, and played his final years as a pro football player for that city’s team, the 49ers. He lived in Los Angeles at the time of the murders.
But California corrections officials say he has not filed papers to live in that state either.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Tom Brown)