After spending the last nine years of his life inside of a Nevada prison, NFL Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson will have an opportunity to walk out a free man Thursday.
Simpson, the former running back who was acquitted of murder charges in 1995, will have his petition for release from his maximum 33-year sentence considered by a Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners.
The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT, and many curious eyes will undoubtedly be looking on, as his past has been well-document.
Simpson was found not guilty back in the 1990s after being accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ron Goldman. But over a decade later, he found himself behind bars for his role in a Las Vegas robbery.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Simpson Is in Jail for Armed Robbery
Simpson heard a guilty verdict on October 3, 2008 for charges stemming from an incident in Las Vegas where he and others robbed two sports-memorabilia dealers captive at gunpoint.
Simpson was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges in the case.
It happened in September 2007 when a group of men, led by Simpson, stormed into a hotel room when Simpson caught wind that they were selling his items. The group stole game balls, autographs, plaques and other items from the men. At one point, Simpson ordered one of the men to make sure that nobody left the room while one man showed a gun.
Simpson was arrested two days later with three others and faced the felony charges. He was sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison with his first possible chance at parole being after nine years.
2. Simpson Won Parole in 2013 on Some Charges
On July 31, 2013, Simpson won parole on some of the charges that he was found guilty of five years earlier.
Officials said the decision to parole him related to two robbery convictions and another for burglary with a firearm.
During court proceedings, Simpson told the board that he was a model prisoner, explaining that other inmates often came to him looking for counseling and advice. At the time, he didn’t have any disciplinary actions against him.
Although he won parole on the convictions, he still faced at least four more years in prison for four weapons sentences and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
3. Simpson’s Risk to Society Will Be Measured by the Board
According to Yahoo!, the four-member board will use a grading form to assess Simpson’s history a the prison and most of all, his risk to society and chances to be a re-offender.
Different factors play a role in determining if he will walk free, and they are compiled to grade him on a number scale. If the board says Simpson is between 0-5, he will likely be paroled. If he’s a 6-10, he would still be eligible for parole.
Members of the board take those findings into account and vote on a decision with a simple majority vote freeing him. If there’s a deadlock in the voting, the other two commissioners on the board voice their opinion. If it’s still tied after that, Simpson would next be eligible for parole during a hearing scheduled for January 2018.
4. Simpson Will Appear in Court via Video Conference
With the context surrounding Simpson, the parole hearing will understandably be a high-profile event. There are almost 250 new outlets that have been credentialed to cover the case in Lovelock or Carson City. All the major news outlets and even ESPN, will feature day-long coverage of the hearing with live streams scheduled.
Simpson will appear via video conference before the board. He’ll be at the prison in Lovelock while the board will decide from its offices in Carson City.
When the hearing begins, Simpson will have the chance to offer an opening statement before the board asks a series of questions about his prison stay and his goals moving forward if he were to be released.
5. There Have Been Conflicting Reports on If Simpson Has Prison Violations
On July 19, just one day before he was set for the parole hearing, the Daily Mail came out with a report saying that his chances at winning parole were “in jeopardy after he was caught masturbating in his Nevada prison cell by a female corrections officer.”
The news outlet, citing a single prison source, accused the former NFL great of “facing a disciplinary hearing” after a female employee who was walking past his cell saw him masturbating back in June.
The report said that when Simpson came before the board, he still would not have faced his disciplinary hearing in the matter, which “could pose a problem for him,” it said.
But just hours later, TMZ came out with a report calling the Daily Mails’ false.
But a law enforcement source told the outlet that it never happened. An official statement from Lovelock to TMZ called it illegal to release information about prisoners’ disciplinary history.
It is against Nevada Dept. of Corrections policy to release inmate disciplinary history to the public. It is also against policy to release inaccurate information. No official from our department would have released the information in question.