CARSON CITY, Nev. » O.J. Simpson pleaded for leniency today, telling a parole panel he deeply regretted robbing two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room and has tried to be a model inmate while behind bars.
"I just wish I never went to that room," he said. "I wish I just said keep it."
Simpson, 66, said he’s been an upstanding inmate while serving his time at Lovelock Correction Center 90 miles east of Reno, where he has been since 2008 when he was sentenced to up to 33 years.
Simpson said during his 15-minute presentation that he shouldn’t be compared with other inmates doing time for similar crimes.
"The difference between all of their crimes and mine is, they were trying to steal other people’s property," he said. "They were trying to steal other people’s money.
"My crime was trying to retrieve for my family my own property," he said. "Make no mistake I would give it all back to these guys. They can have it all to get these five years of my life back."
Simpson was sentenced to consecutive terms on several charges. But some of his sentences were ordered to run concurrently — two counts each of kidnapping and robbery and one count of burglary.
As a result, even if the Nevada Parole Board ruled in his favor on those charges, he would then begin serving sentences attached to other charges and spend at least another four years in prison.
Simpson was the only person to speak on his behalf today. No victims spoke.
While in prison, Simpson said, he has missed his children, graduations and his sister’s funeral.
He also told the two-member parole panel that he has spoken at length with Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong — the two dealers targeted in the holdup. He acknowledged that he was "not as civil as I should have been" while trying to regain the property.
"I knew both of these guys who had my stuff," Simpson said. "I am sorry for what has happened. … I’ve apologized. They’ve apologized."
Simpson appeared for 15 minutes before Parole Commissioner Susan Jackson and hearing representative Robin Bates. They were expected to make a recommendation to the full parole board later today and a final decision is expected next week.
His best chance for freedom lies with a pending decision by a Las Vegas judge on whether to grant him a new trial based on claims that his trial lawyer botched his defense and had a conflict of interest in the case.
Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell held a weeklong hearing in May on the issue that featured testimony from Simpson.
His current lawyers, Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo, also presented evidence and questioned witnesses, including trial lawyer Yale Galanter, about whether he knew in advance about the September 2007 plan for Simpson and several other men to confront the memorabilia dealers.
Simpson argues that he was trying to retrieve items stolen from him after his 1995 "trial of the century" in Los Angeles when he was acquitted of murder in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend..
Bell hasn’t indicated when she plans to issue her decision, but told a KSNV-TV interviewer for a segment aired this week that she still had "some writing to do."
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.