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Hours before a Nevada parole board voted to free O.J. Simpson from prison, the man who helped prosecute the former NFL star on double homicide charges in a separate case had argued against his release, saying Simpson had yet to be "reformed and rehabilitated."
“I think he has a lot to account for, and we have yet to extract from him the punishment that he deserves,” former Los Angeles prosecutor Chris Darden said Thursday morning on TODAY.
Hours later, Simpson appeared at a hearing before the Nevada Board of Parole, which agreed to his release. Simpson could walk free as early as Oct. 1.
Simpson is approaching the minimum time served on a 33-year sentence for a 2008 conviction on kidnapping, armed robbery and other charges related to a sports memorabilia heist in Las Vegas.
“It’s an amazing thing that you can get a 33-year sentence and only do nine years. That’s just incredible to me,” Darden said earlier on TODAY.
Darden prosecuted Simpson, now 70, in the 1995 murder case referred to as the “Trial of the Century.” The former football hero was ultimately acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman, but later found liable for the double homicide in a separate civil case. Simpson still owes roughly $33 million from that civil judgment.
During his first parole hearing in 2013, Simpson presented himself as a model prisoner who coached prisoners in sporting events and counseled fellow inmates. But Darden said the public shouldn’t feel comforted by that description.
“The fact that he’s a model prisoner doesn’t mean he’s a model citizen,” he said. “And the fact that he’s a model prisoner doesn’t mean he doesn’t pose a risk to the public.”
“I heard that he leads a Bible study class or something to that effect," Darden added. "That’s not the O.J. Simpson I know.”
Darden said he doesn’t think that prison time has chastened Simpson as his supporters have claimed.
“I thought he was the same old guy I met in 1994, 1995, a very manipulative person, a narcissist,” he said. “I think he was saying what he needed to say, and he was doing what he needs to do to get out of prison.”
He said he would like the Nevada parole board to ask Simpson whether he killed his ex-wife and Goldman, even if the question is irrelevant to the case.
“I think that’s the one question that everybody wants to ask,” he said.
"If you’re really reformed and rehabilitated, if you’re really remorseful, if you’re really a born-again Christian, then let’s move this discussion forward. Admit your sins.”