The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff Reports

Posted: Monday, January 01, 2018 12:26 PM

OPED: Greg Jarrett: O.J. Up For Parole Yes, But He Should Never Be Set Free

SPECIAL OPED: O. J. Simpson, one of the most heinous and depraved killers in modern American history, is up for parole consideration.

If the Nevada Parole Board has a conscience, it will never set him free. He is a threat to society and will always be so.

Simpson was found guilty in 2008 of armed robbery, kidnapping and 10 other charges after he and his friends, brandishing guns, stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room to steal sports memorabilia. The former football star’s lawyers argued that their client was simply retrieving his own property. The jury didn’t buy it for one minute. He was sentenced to 33 years, but eligible for parole after nine years.

The crimes were a consistent pattern of conduct for Simpson. When he gets angry, he resorts to violence and lawlessness. He will do it again if he is allowed to walk out of the Lovelock Correctional Center. He is a ticking time bomb. Freedom will allow the fuse to be set again.

Parole Considerations

The Nevada parole guidelines identify more than a dozen factors for board members to consider. For example, the board wants to know whether Simpson has a clean record in prison or has been disciplined. Has he completed recommended educational courses and treatment? Has he refrained from gang activity, drugs and alcohol?

His score will be calculated in a mathematical formula. Most inmates with a good score are paroled. While Simpson should score well, the severity of his Nevada crimes weighs against him. Armed robbery and kidnapping under the threat of bullets are extremely serious crimes. So, parole is not an easy touchdown for the Hall of Famer. There are reports that he is worried. He should be.

The parole board can consider prior convictions in determining whether Simpson might be a recidivist criminal. He was convicted of beating his wife in 1989, so that may be examined. However, since he was acquitted in his famous double murder trial in Los Angeles in 1995, it does not technically count as a prior offense.

Nevertheless, there is another way the parole board could apply the double murder against Simpson, even though he was found “not guilty.” Under the provision entitled “aggravating factors,” board members can consider the following:

“… other information… that concerns the Board that the inmate may be a risk to public safety if released on parole.”

In other words, the board is entitled to conclude that releasing Simpson would pose a threat to society because of his established propensity for violence. The decision can be based on reliable information and evidence such as court proceedings and judgments.

Indeed, the parole board could take judicial notice of the verdict in 1997 by a civil jury in the wrongful death case brought by the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The jury unanimously found that Simpson committed the brutal killings, awarding the plaintiffs $8.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages.

On this basis alone the Nevada board members should deny Simpson parole.

Simpson has a long and frightening record of violence: beating his wife, cutting his ex-wife’s throat and nearly decapitating her, stabbing Goldman more than 30 times, then later committing armed robbery and kidnapping.

Simpson is an inherent danger to society and it is too risky to let him walk free.

Evidence Simpson Is a Killer

As a lawyer, I have tried cases. As a reporter, I have covered hundreds of trials. From the courtroom, I saw all of the evidence presented in Simpson’s 1995 murder trial. I can say without hesitation that I have never witnessed such compelling and overwhelming evidence of guilt.

Simpson’s blood was dripping away from the crime scene. Sophisticated DNA testing proved conclusively that the blood dropped at the murder scene belonged only to O. J. Simpson. The chance that it was someone else’s DNA was one out of 170 million. He had fresh cuts all over his hand.

The blood of both victims and Simpson was spattered and smeared throughout the interior of his Ford Bronco. Limo driver Allan Park testified he observed a man he believed to be Simpson entering his home shortly after the murders. Fresh drops of Simpson’s blood were found on the driveway and foyer of his home. Nicole’s blood was found on Simpson’s socks in his bedroom, and his own blood was found on the same socks.

Simpson normally wore size 12 shoes, and bloody shoe prints matching that very size were found leading away from the bodies. The bloody companion to the glove ripped off at the murder scene was found on Simpson’s property. A receipt showed Nicole bought the same gloves for her husband.

Another receipt showed Simpson bought a 12-inch knife six weeks before the murders, and a replica of the knife proved to be a precise match to the wounds on the victims. Hair with the same characteristics as Simpson’s was found on Goldman’s shirt and on the knit cap worn by the killer and left at the crime scene.

All of this evidence and much more is a part of the official court record which may be considered by the parole board if it has any desire to examine the truth of whether Simpson is a killer who is fully capable of killing again. And he knows he got away with it, thanks to arrogant and inept prosecutors, a seemingly incompetent judge, and gullible jurors who were dazzled, if not confused, by Simpson’s so-called “dream team” of clever lawyers.

The notion that all of the evidence was planted in an elaborate scheme to frame Simpson was ludicrous. The criminal jury was fooled, but not the civil jury. And the parole board in Nevada should not be fooled either. The board members have a duty to protect society and an obligation to examine the evidence against a killer who wants his freedom.

If the parole board does not have the time or willingness to study all of the evidence presented in the civil trial, it should simply turn to Simpson’s sworn testimony. Unable to invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination in a civil trial, he was forced to take the witness stand. Simpson melted under cross-examination, erasing any doubt about his guilt.

The acquittal of O. J. Simpson did immeasurable damage to America’s faith in our system of justice. But trial by jury is an imperfect system. Sometimes guilty people go free.

For this very reason, the Nevada parole board should refuse to permit a proven killer to walk free again.

Gregg Jarrett is a Fox News Anchor and former defense attorney.