UPDATE: O.J. Simpson granted parole by Nevada officials after nine years in prison
Simpson had broken into the room in a Las Vegas hotel-casino with five other men and seized several items he believed were his property.
UPDATE: (NBC News) - O.J. Simpson, imprisoned nearly a decade ago for a bungled Las Vegas robbery, was granted parole Thursday.
The former football star and notorious murder defendant has served the minimum of a nine-to-33-year sentence at Lovelock Correctional Center, a medium-security prison northeast of Reno. He was convicted in 2008 of armed robbery and other charges related to a botched sports memorabilia heist in a Las Vegas hotel room.
He could walk free as early as Oct 1.
Simpson, 70, was acquitted in 1995 in the gruesome murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, after a lengthy trial that riveted America. He was found liable for the double homicide in a 1997 civil case.
The robbery case was not connected to the double murder. Simpson still faces a $33 million civil judgment won by the families of the two victims.
The so-called “Trial of the Century” captivated the country yet again last year with the release of an Emmy-winning FX miniseries that dramatized the legal saga and an Oscar-winning ESPN documentary that delved into the social issues surrounding it.
But the bizarre memorabilia heist that unfolded a dozen years after the legendary verdict proved to be Simpson’s downfall.
Simpson had broken into the room in a Las Vegas hotel-casino with five other men and seized several items he believed were his property — game balls, plaques, photos of his children. He was convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping and 10 other charges in the crime.
Judge Jackie Glass sentenced him to 33 years behind bars, with the possibility of parole after nine years. In 2013, Simpson was deemed a low-risk inmate and granted parole on some of his charges.
Four of his accused accomplices — Michael McClinton, Walter Alexander, Charles Ehrlich and Charles Cashmore — took plea deals and testified against Simpson. They were sentenced to probation. A fifth accused accomplice, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, stood trial and was convicted. That conviction was later overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court, which ruled Stewart had been denied a fair trial.
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PREVIOUS STORY: (NBC News) - O.J. Simpson will make his case for freedom on Thursday — and many experts believe he has a good shot at winning it.
Simpson's fate rests in the hands of four members of the Nevada Board of Parole, who will hold a hearing starting at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) in Carson City. Simpson will appear via video conference from two hours away at Lovelock Correctional Center, the isolated medium-security facility northeast of Reno that he has called home for nearly nine years, to answer commissioners' questions.
The hearing, which is expected to last about 10 or 15 minutes, will be livestreamed on WRCBtv.com and NBCNews.com.
Simpson is approaching the minimum time served of his 33-year sentence after he was convicted in 2008 of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges related to a botched sports memorabilia heist in a Las Vegas hotel room.
One of his robbery victims, Bruce Fromong, is expected to speak at the hearing. Fromong has told The Associated Press that he forgives Simpson for the incident.
Simpson has spent his time behind bars mopping the prison gym floor and serving as a sports coach to other inmates. Legal experts believe his good behavior in prison will help him gain parole.
"I don't see any reason why he wouldn't, based on his being a model prisoner and the actions that he's taken over the years to better himself," Al Lasso, a Las Vegas trial lawyer who has observed the case, told NBC News.
Simpson's infamous past should not play a role in his parole case, Lasso added.
"It's going to be hard to leave out the murder situation from the parole board's minds, but in the end, they have to go by a regulated system, a point system. And if you add up the points, he's more than eligible for parole," Lasso said.
Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School in Los Angeles professor and longtime Simpson case commentator, agreed parole was likely.
"There are no certainties because it is O.J., and we've learned to expect the unexpected, but just on his classification and his risk factors, he is a good candidate," she told NBC News.
Despite the media frenzy around Simpson's case, former chairs of the state parole board have said the hearing is likely to be fairly routine. To commissioners, Simpson is simply Inmate #1027820.
"That's really the beauty of the system: It's the same for everyone," Dorla Salling, who was chairwoman of the parole board from 2000 to 2009, told NBC News. "It doesn't matter what your name is."
The only unusual aspect to Simpson's hearing will be the timing. Typically the parole board takes up to three weeks to make a decision, but because interest in this case is so high, a same-day decision is likely, the parole board said.
Simpson, 70, is no stranger to being the center of attention: About 150 million people tuned in to hear the verdict in the "Trial of the Century" in 1995, when he was acquitted in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. He was found liable for the double homicide in a 1997 civil case and owes a $33 million civil judgment, which he will still face should he be released from prison.
The parole board will base its decision on a number of factors, such as history of drug and alcohol abuse and disciplinary conduct over the past year.
If his past is any indication, Simpson is a viable parole candidate. In 2013, he was deemed a low risk and was granted parole on some of his charges. It was during that hearing that he told commissioners that he coached sports teams in prison and umpired games.
"I advise a lot of guys, and I'd like to feel that I've kept a lot of trouble from happening since I've been here by getting involved in some conflicts that some of the individuals have had," he said then.
If he wins parole, Simpson could be free as early as Oct. 1. If he is not granted parole, he could be kept behind bars until 2022.
F. Lee Bailey, one of Simpson's defense attorneys during his murder trial, told NBC News that he was hopeful that his former client would go free.
"I'm very sympathetic to him being released at the first possible moment," said Bailey, 84.