LAS VEGAS — The family of the man slain with Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994 knew that O.J. Simpson would be freed from prison on parole but said Sunday that his actual release “is still difficult for us knowing he will be a free man again.”
Fred and Kim Goldman released a statement through spokesman Michael Wright saying they respect the Nevada Parole Board’s decision to release Simpson after nine years in prison for his conviction in a Las Vegas armed robbery case.
But they also say they’ll continue to pursue payment of $33.5 million judgment awarded in 1997 after Simpson was found civilly liable for the death of their son Ronald Goldman and will keep advocating for domestic violence awareness, victim advocacy and judicial reform.
Simpson is still obligated to pay the judgment, which now amounts to about $65 million, said David Cook, a Goldman family lawyer.
Officials at a remote Nevada prison where Simpson was set free early Sunday arranged the former football and Hollywood star’s dead-of-night departure to avoid public scrutiny.
Simpson signed release paperwork just before midnight and disappeared into the darkness minutes into the first day he was eligible for release. Through efforts by prison officials to keep the time and place secret, there were no journalists outside the prison gates to capture the moment.
Though publicity-prone in the past, Simpson was neither heard from nor seen publicly as the day wore on — apparently taking the advice of people in his inner circle that he avoid the spotlight.
Simpson faces restrictions during five years of parole supervision, which could be reduced for good behavior. He cannot use illegal drugs and can drink alcohol only if the amount he drinks is below Nevada’s blood-alcohol limit for driving. He also is prohibited from associating with felons or anyone who Nevada officials prohibit him contacting. And he must tell the state where he’ll be living and when he changes his residence. The conditions still apply if Simpson ends up out of state.
Simpson told the parole board that he led a “conflict-free life,” an assertion that angered many who believe he got away with killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman, in Los Angeles in 1994. He was acquitted the following year in what was dubbed the “trial of the century.”
Simpson was once an electrifying running back dubbed “Juice” who won the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best college football player for the University of Southern California in 1968 and became one of the NFL’s all-time greats with the Buffalo Bills.
Simpson fell from grace when he was arrested in the slayings, after a famous “slow-speed” Ford Bronco chase on California freeways. His subsequent trial became a live-TV sensation that fascinated viewers with testimony about a bloody glove that didn’t fit and unleashed furious debate over race, police and celebrity justice.
A jury swiftly acquitted him. But two years later, Simpson was found liable in civil court for the killings.
On September 16, 2007, he led five men he barely knew into a cramped room at the Palace Station casino in Las Vegas in an effort to retrieve items that Simpson insisted were stolen after his acquittal in the 1994 slayings.
Two of the men with Simpson in Las Vegas carried handguns, although Simpson still insists he never knew anyone was armed. He says he only wanted to retrieve personal items, mementoes and family photos from two sports memorabilia dealers.
His conviction in October 2008 in Las Vegas came 13 years to the day after his acquittal in October 1995 in Los Angeles. His lawyers called his stiff 9-to-33-year sentence for armed robbery, kidnapping and other charges unfair. Many other people characterized it as payback for his acquittal in the Los Angeles murder case.