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OJ Simpson wins parole case after serving nine years for hotel robbery

OJ Simpson has been granted parole after more than eight years in prison for a 2007 Las Vegas hotel heist.

Simpson successfully made his case in a nationally televised hearing that reflected the US's enduring fascination with the former American football star.

The 70-year-old could be a free man as early as October 1.

By then he will have served the minimum of his nine to 33-year armed robbery sentence for a bungled attempt to snatch sports memorabilia and other mementos he claimed had been stolen from him.

He got the four votes he needed from the parole commissioners who heard his case.

In agreeing to release Simpson, they cited his lack of a prior conviction, the low risk that he might commit another crime, his community support and his release plans.

During the hearing, Simpson forcefully insisted - as he has all along - that he was only trying to retrieve items that belonged to him and never meant to hurt anyone.

He said he never pointed a gun at anyone nor made any threats during the crime.

"I've done my time. I've done it as well and respectfully as I think anybody can," he said.

Simpson made his plea for freedom in a hearing room at the Lovelock Correctional Centre in rural Nevada as four parole commissioners in Carson City, which is a two-hour drive away, questioned him via video-link.

Simpson, grey-haired but looking trimmer than he has in recent years, walked briskly into the hearing room dressed in jeans, a light-blue prison-issue shirt and trainers.

He laughed at one point as the parole board chairwoman mistakenly gave his age as 90.

The Hall of Fame athlete's chances of being released were considered good, given similar cases and Simpson's model behaviour while incarcerated. His defenders also argued that his sentence was out of proportion to the crime.

They said he was punished for being acquitted of the killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman during a 1995 trial that had most of the world engrossed in the outcome.

Before the hearing concluded, one of the dealers Simpson robbed, Bruce Fromong, said the former football great never pointed a gun at him during the confrontation, adding that it was one of the men with him who did so.

Mr Fromong said Simpson deserved to be released.

He said: "He is a good man. He made a mistake," adding the two remain friends.

Simpson's eldest child, 48-year-old Arnelle Simpson, also testified on his behalf, saying her father is not perfect but realises what a mistake he made and has spent years paying for it.

"We just want him to come home, we really do," she said.

Simpson said that he has spent his time in prison mentoring fellow inmates.

He has tried to keep them out of trouble and believes he has become a better person during those years.

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