Tuesday, January 16 , 2018, 8:29 am | Fog/Mist 52º

 
 
 
 

Diane Dimond: ‘Conflict-Free’ O.J. Simpson Must Think We’re Stupid

I’ve covered all things O.J. Simpson since 1995. Here’s my forecast for his future:

Allow me to go out on a limb here to predict that Simpson has not had his last tango with law enforcement.

Yes, he recently got a Nevada parole board to approve his release from prison as early as Oct. 1. Though he has served nine years for kidnapping and armed robbery, I get the impression Simpson really doesn’t think he did anything wrong back in 2007.

A parole commissioner asked him about the night he and a posse of pals (two of whom were armed) stormed into a Las Vegas hotel room and demanded the return of Simpson’s memorabilia.

“What were you thinking?” Commissioner Tony Corda asked.

“It was my property,” Simpson said with a shrug and a smile. “I wasn’t there to steal from anybody.”

And he proceeded to launch into one of his famously long soliloquies.

“I never should have allowed these alleged security guys to help me,” Simpson told the parole board, referring to the two men with guns, “because it turns out they were only trying to help themselves.”

One of those men was Walter Alexander, who readily admits he used to be the guy who got the drugs for his buddies during their long weekend get-togethers. But these days, Alexander says, he has found God and turned his life around.

I watched Simpson’s parole hearing sitting next to Alexander on the New York set of a cable TV program. He looked stunned as Simpson gave his revisionist version of events from a decade ago.

Early on, Alexander turned to me and whispered, “He is not telling the truth.”

“What is he talking about, that we were out for ourselves?” he asked. “Why does he keep calling us ‘security guys’ like he didn’t know us? He asked us to come with him to get his stuff back!”

Back on the TV screen, Simpson expressed open-palmed surprise that there had been guns in the room. Alexander, who had told me he hoped his longtime ex-friend would win his freedom that day, sat upright in his seat and said: “He just blew it. They will know he’s lying.”

He sadly shook his head.

Alexander was sure the commissioners remembered his own trial testimony and that of Michael McClinton, the other gunman. Both testified during Simpson’s trial that they had firearms at Simpson’s insistence, and that right before they entered, Simpson instructed them to show the guns and look “menacing.”

“I feel sorry for him,” Alexander said as he sank back down in his seat. HLN host Erica Hill and I passed a glance wondering whether he was right. Would the parole commissioners see through Simpson’s golly-gee-I-didn’t-know-anything guise?

Then, Simpson made those jaw-dropping comments.

“I’ve basically had a conflict-free life,” prisoner No. 1027820 told the parole board.

Really? How many people do you know who have faced four separate court trials as Simpson has?

There was one in 1995 for that infamous charge of double murder, a 1997 civil proceeding at which he was ordered to pay the family of murder victim Ron Goldman a settlement of $33.5 million, a 2001 trial for road rage that found him not guilty of burglary and battery and, of course, the 2008 trial in Las Vegas.

He has led a “conflict-free” life? Does he think we’re stupid?

When Simpson said, “Nobody has ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them,” I thought of two people who would argue with that if only they weren’t dead: Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Goldman.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever accused me of having an alcohol problem or any kind of substance problem,” Simpson said when a commissioner asked why he’d failed to take an alcohol-abuse program in prison, as he’d promised.

From the seat to my left, Alexander said of that day in 2007: “He had been drinking all day. He was totally drunk when we went to that room.”

My own reporting during the 1995-1996 double-murder investigation and trial contradicted Simpson’s statement, too. I whispered to Alexander that back in the day, sources had told me Simpson was a frequent drinker and drug user.

“Cocaine and ecstasy were his favorites,” Alexander said in a matter-of-fact tone.

I could continue to pick apart Simpson’s statements to the parole board, but why? The commissioners chose to ignore Simpson’s discrepancies and seemed to have predetermined the outcome of this televised extravaganza.

So, Simpson walks free in a couple of months. His fate will, once again, rest with his own behavior. Given his propensity to blame everyone else for his problems, I’m betting he’ll find it tough to stick to the strict restrictions of his parole. I wonder whether he realizes that no matter where he goes, countless cellphones will be ready to capture his every move.

Simpson says he just wants to go back to his family in Florida and live quietly. Good idea. Then he can finally fulfill his 1995 promise to pursue as his primary goal “the killer or killers who slaughtered Nicole and Mr. Goldman.”

Diane Dimond is the author of Thinking Outside the Crime and Justice Box. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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