Former football legend O.J. Simpson became a free man Sunday after serving nine years for a botched hotel room heist in Las Vegas that brought the conviction and prison time he avoided in the killings of his ex-wife and her friend after his 1995 acquittal in the “trial of the century” in Los Angeles.
Simpson was released at 12:08 a.m. PDT from Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada, state prisons spokeswoman Brooke Keast told The Associated Press. She said she did not know the driver who met Simpson upon his release and didn’t know where Simpson was immediately headed in his first hours of freedom.
“I don’t have any information on where he’s going,” said Keast, who watched as Simpson signed documents and was let go. Her department released video and photos on social media.
Tom Scotto, a close Simpson friend who lives in Naples, Florida, said by text message that he was with Simpson following his release. Scotto didn’t respond to questions about where they were going or whether Simpson’s sister, Shirley Baker of Sacramento, California, or his daughter, Arnelle Simpson of Fresno, California, were with him.
The three had attended Simpson’s parole hearing in July at the same prison where Simpson spent his prison term and was released just minutes into the first day a parole board set for his possible release.
Simpson has said he wanted to move back to Florida, where he lived before his armed robbery conviction in Las Vegas in a September 2007 confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers.
But Florida prison officials said documents weren’t filed, and the state attorney general says she doesn’t want Simpson to live in the state.
Neither Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne in Las Vegas, nor state Parole and Probation Capt. Shawn Arruti, who has been handling Simpson’s case, immediately responded to messages.
Keast said the dead-of-night release from the prison about 90 miles east of Reno, Nevada, was conducted to avoid media attention.
“We needed to do this to ensure public safety and to avoid any possible incident,” Keast added, speaking by telephone. She spoke from Lovelock, where she said she witnessed Simpson signing documents to be released.
The 70-year-old Simpson gains his freedom after being granted parole at a hearing in July. Unlike the last time he went free, 22 years ago, he will face restrictions — up to five years of parole supervision — and he’s unlikely to escape…