Onetime “Trial of the Century” defendant O.J. Simpson was released early on Sunday from the Nevada prison where he had been held since 2008 for a botched armed robbery at a Las Vegas casino hotel, prison officials said.
The Nevada Department of Corrections posted a seven-second video on Facebook showing Simpson being released, which officials said occurred at 12:08 a.m. local time.
The midnight timing was “in an effort to ensure public safety and reduce the potential for incident,” the department of corrections said in a brief statement that accompanied the video and a photo showing Simpson signing some papers.
Simpson‘s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, said by text message on Sunday morning, “All information related to Simpson‘s whereabouts is confidential until (Monday) at the earliest.”
Simpson wore a blue baseball-style cap, blue jeans, and a blue jeans jacket and white sneakers as he walked through a door to freedom after a woman who appears to be a prison guard says, “Here you go. Come on out.”
Another prison guard, a man, says something inaudible to which Simpson, walking away and not turning back to address him, said, “OK.”
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.
Simpson, a former pro football star turned actor and TV pitchman, was found not guilty in 1995 following his sensational, 13-month trial in Los Angeles, which was televised live daily, transfixing much of the country.
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.
Simpson‘s ultimate destination remains unclear. 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.
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.
At his parole hearing, Simpson, known during his football career as the “Juice”, said he was ready to spend time with his children and friends outside prison and could handle the public attention he would get.
Among reasons the commissioners gave for their decision was that Simpson had complied with prison rules during his incarceration, had no prior criminal convictions and posed a minimal safety risk to the public.
Simpson won the Heisman Trophy, the award for the top college football player, in 1968 while attending the University of Southern California. He played more than a decade in the National Football League, most of that time for the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo, New York. While playing for the Bills, he became the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season.
By Dan Whitcomb