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O.J. SIMPSON Parole Hearing; Simpson Waits for Parole Verdict. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired July 20, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] MALCOLM LAVERGNE, ATTORNEY FOR O.J. SIMPSON: Simpson. He was trying his hardest to do whatever you want to get Mr. Simpson out of prison. And he had just - they had just made right. Mr. Simpson had apologized to him. And they had just basically made it right. And he was very, very - and he had sent letters to Mr. Simpson for - and Mr. Simpson hadn't responded, and that was probably on the advice of counsel at the time.
And then also there was another issue of - and Mr. Simpson has raised this issue, and I want to emphasize this again, that Mr. Beardsley had a set of photos, and these are not memorabilia. Mr. Simpson, if he didn't make his point already, he could care less about some signed football or some signed photos. He could care less about it. He could rip them up and burn them up. I know they mean a lot to a lot of people, but those - that was not what was really the true impetus for what happened here.
What was the true impetus was is that there were intimate family photos that were taken from him, literally stolen. And there's no dispute that these would not be any type of judgment, collections. These are just intimate family photos. Mr. Simpson had a former family. He had a second family. There's pictures of him with his mother and other things, famous celebrities, and they were not subject to being taken - they probably have no value to most people, but they have all the value in the world to Mr. Simpson. They're not footballs. And that's what set it off. And Mr. Beardsley had these photos - or he at least represented to me on the phone that he had these photos. And I had made every effort that I could to try and obtain those intimate family photos, that I was well aware were basically all Mr. Simpson wanted in the first place.
Unfortunately, whatever happened, Mr. Beardsley was never able to get those to me. He explained that he had them and I tried to make every effort to get those from him. And then at some point along the line we lost contact. And then I just discovered that he had passed away.
But I will speak on Mr. Beardsley's behalf from that phone conversation that at least as of September of 2011, him and Mr. Simpson had made things right. OK.
And, finally - and again, obviously, the commission is not used to hearing where victims are calling people who are in prison their attorneys and having multiple conversations with them. I have also had Mr. Fromong, Bruce Fromong, who's sitting right here to my left and will testify shortly, he's also called my office. He had called before many years ago and we had spoken. And I can't necessarily remember the substance of those conversations. They weren't recorded. But if they were, I can't - I couldn't find them in my files.
But he's recently called again. He called me on July 3rd and he called me on July 14th. And both times I missed the calls, by I - I called him back. And I can hear the - that Mr. Fromong has made things - and Mr. Simpson have made things right with each other, that he's accepted Mr. Simpson's apology whole heartedly. He seems to be a fundamentally really, really good guy who's fallen on some hard times recently. And he told me that he would be calling and - coming in and testifying favorably for Mr. Simpson.
I made sure I told him probably 15 or 20 times to say whatever he wanted to say because, you know, obviously, Mr. Simpson's attorney talking to a victim, it could be interpreted the wrong way. So, again, Mr. Fromong, say whatever you want to say. Nobody's telling you how to testify here.
And one of the things that we did - and I did inform the parole and probation about both of those conversations on July 3rd and July 14th.
And one of the things that we did spend a lot of time - I mean that was a small portion of our conversations was the remorse on Mr. Simpson's part that Mr. Fromong accepted. Most of the time we spent - we were talking about some other unfortunate things that happened with Mr. Fromong. I believe - you know, now I believe I know because I've researched this now. There was some civil litigation that went on out there. And this was against one of the - primarily against one of the uncharged co-defendants in this case, a guy named - an individual named Riccio.
Something happened in this civil litigation, and I don't know what's going on with it at this point in time other than Mr. Fromong addressed those concerns with me. I told him that I would look into it. I explained to him that he really should talk to his lawyers who were involved in that civil litigation to try and make that judgment, do whatever he wants it to do. And it was unfortunate. I believe that, you know, this kind of is an opportunity to show you that in the criminal case he's completely the victim but he's filed this civil lawsuit and the jury actually found Fromong 16 percent liable for what happened here. It was - it was pretty - it was pretty unique, to say the least.
In any event, Mr. Fromong is going to testify, but I did feel that I needed to note that. I don't think I have a point to prove with Mr. Fromong, other than he did represent that he was going to testify favorably for Mr. Simpson and that he did discuss with me on multiple occasions this idea of some civil judgment out there that he was hoping that Mr. Simpson could take care of for him. And that's it. Thank you very much.
[14:05:15] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
And, Mr. Simpson, did you have any closing remarks? O.J. SIMPSON: I hadn't prepared any except that, you know, I've come
here. I've spent nine years making no excuses about anything. I am sorry that things turned out the way they did. I had no intent to commit a crime. I came here. I tell the inmates all the time, man, I don't want to hear about your crime, you know? Argue in court. Here we're all convicts. I'm a convict. Do your time and don't do anything to extend your time.
I told the warden when I got here, Mr. LaGrange (ph) I think it was, Ms. Carpenter (ph) and Ms. Meegan (ph), that I would be no problem. I believe in this jury's system. I will honor what the jury said. And I will be no problem, you know? And I think I kept my word.
As I said, I've done my time. I would just like to get back to my family and friends. And, believe it or not, I do have some real friends, but I don't think I could have represented this prison - I don't think any inmate has ever represented it better than I.
I did my time. I tried to be helpful to everybody. And as I said, Bruce and Beardsley, I made up with them years ago, you know?
So I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry to Nevada. I wish - I wish Riccio had never called me. I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it wasn't worth it. You know, nine years away from your family is just, just not worth it. And I'm sorry. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
Just one more thing for the record. Your expiration is, as of today, 9/29/22. And for all those people in the world wondering how that adds up to 33 years, in the state of Nevada, good behavior, complying with the rules, can mean up to a 50 percent reduction off the back end of your - of your sentence. If granted parole, that September 29, 2022, time could even move closer. So I - I wanted to put that on the record.
And at this point, I'll ask, Officer Batista (ph), if you will move Mr. Lavergne and Mr. Simpson again and we invite Mr. Fromong to the table, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am.
SIMPSON: Thank you.
LAVERGNE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, Mr. Fromong, put your own name on the record for us, please, and then proceed.
BRUCE FROMONG, ROBBERY VICTIM: Yes, it is Bruce Fromong, and I'd like to thank the - thank you for the opportunity to be able to speak today.
First and foremost, I'd like to state that I'm not here just as Mr. Simpson's friend of almost 27 years, because that I am. But today I'm also appearing as the victim of the crime of - on September 30th - or September 13th of 2007.
On that day, I felt that Mr. Simpson was misguided, not by himself, but also by Tom Riccio. He was led to believe that on that day there were going to be thousands of pieces of his personal memorabilia, pictures of his wife, his - from his first marriage, pictures of his kids, Arnelle and Jason, family heirlooms. He was told there were going to be possibly his wife's wedding ring. Thousands of things. He was misled about what was going to be there that day.
A man named Thomas Riccio had promised him this big - this big package. In reality, once it - Thomas Riccio had never met me. Never had met me in his entire life until the night of the robbery. He got there and saw all this stuff. He went down. He got O.J. And instead of telling him that that's not what was there, he brought him up anyway.
When O.J. got there, unfortunately he was already worked up and had people with him that were hollering and screaming. There was a lot of commotion going on in a very, very small room. A real small room, wasn't it, O.J. And a lot of things happened very quickly.
[14:10:21] And, unfortunately, if O.J. had have just said, everybody out of here, Bruce and I need to talk for a minute, none of this needed to happen. But that didn't happen.
And it took - one of the things I want to make clear is that it took me two years in a California court because - and a judge's infinite wisdom, instead of going ahead and turning things back over, everything got sent to a California court to get straightened out. And after having to fight the Goldmans' lawyers, O.J.'s lawyers, and it took me two years to get back with over 600 items. A majority of it did come back to me because I had to go back 19 years through our friendship, but I had to go back 19 years, produce records for almost 98 percent of the stuff.
And it is true that items in that room belonged to O.J. There were no two ways about it. But it's also true that I had - I have never stolen anything from O.J. I did not - I have never stolen from O.J. I think O.J. will admit that I did not ever take anything from you.
FROMONG: It wasn't me. An ex-partner of mine and his mistress, Christy Lukenmeyer, have taken things. Other people have taken things from O.J. But I have never stolen from O.J. O.J. is my friend. Always has been. And I hope will remain my friend.
But there were things in that room, and I admit to that. And I'm sorry things did not work out differently. But there were - and I will make this clear to you, O.J. never held a gun on me. There was a coward in that room. A man named McClinton came up, gangster style, acting like a big man. He held the gun on me. Not O.J. Another man came in, hit me. Not O.J. He never laid a hand on me. A lot of people were yelling, bag that stuff up. Let's get - let's get out of here.
During the trial, after I had already testified against O.J., and this is why I absolutely believe him, after I had already testified against O.J., I had already said everything I had to say, we happened to pass each other in the hallway, and O.J. came up to me and said, can I talk to you for a minute. And we had a chance to talk to each other. And I told him I'm sorry that I - I did not get the opportunity to call him and tell him that I had that stuff. Those few items that belonged to him. I told him I'm sorry that I did not take the opportunity to call him, because we'd been apart for a long time. We hadn't had a chance to talk for many, many years. And I had been buying stuff from Mike Gilbert (ph) and I wish I had have.
And he said, Bruce, I can't tell you how sorry I am. And we've got a saying between us, it is what it is. And he put his hand out, I shook his hand, and I said, I forgive you.
We all make mistakes. O.J. made his. He's been here and, from what I'm told, he's been a model inmate. He's been an example to others.
During the trial, I recommended that he serve one to three years. That's what I recommended to the D.A.
And I'm here to say that I've known O.J. for a long time. I don't feel that he's a threat to anyone out there. He's a good man. I know that he does a lot for other people. And I feel that nine and a half to 33 years was way too long. And I feel that it's time to give him a second chance. It's time for him to go home to his family, his friends.
[14:15:27] This is a good man. He made a mistake. And if he called me tomorrow and said, Bruce, I'm getting out, will you pick me up. Juice, I'll be here tomorrow for you. I mean that, buddy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. We appreciate your comments. Appreciate you being present today. Thank you.
And so, Mr. Fromong -
FROMONG: Thank you for this opportunity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're welcome. Mr. Lavergne and Mr. Simpson, if you'll return to the table, please.
Before we break for deliberation, I want to ask the panel members if they have any other last questions, or anything that -- OK.
What's going to happen now is deliberation. Again, another thing we do with every single case, but a little differently today because, frankly, we need our offices back, folks. So we're hoping to deliberate, come to an agreement, and be able to produce an order sometime in the next 30 minutes or so.
So, what's going to happen is we are going to break if - and then after deliberating, we'll come back to this room. I'll ask each commissioner to vote. I'll vote myself. If we are able to agree when those votes are cast, that will be a final decision. If it becomes obvious that there is a split on this particular panel, I have Commissioners Eddie Gray (ph) and Commissioner Michael Keillor (ph) standby in Las Vegas and they will either - we will call them. They will either cast a vote then or ask for deliberate - to return to deliberations. So that is what we're planning at this moment.
We are about to leave the room. I know Officer Batista (ph) is going to arrange to clear the courtroom there also. I ask that here that you give us about two minutes to clear out of the room so that you're not chasing us down the hall. And then we'll give you a five-minute notice that our deliberation is over and that we're ready to cast votes.
So, on that, I will call this hearing into recess and we will return after deliberation.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And there he goes. You have been listening and watching this parole hearing of perhaps the most infamous inmate in recent American history. And moments from now, O.J. Simpson will learn whether he walks free.
Who could forget, 22 years ago, his murder trial and subsequent acquittal captivated the nation. And today, this man is 70 years old, standing before a parole board on live television after nearly a decade behind bars for a robbery in Las Vegas.
You heard from O.J. Simpson, defending himself. So now they've broken for recess. We're waiting for this parole board, these four commissioners, to then ultimately bring O.J. Simpson back into the room and tell them their decision.
To be clear, in total here, there are six parole board members, four of them there in Carson City, Nevada, and they need the four to approve. Two are on standby in Las Vegas in the case that this thing isn't unanimous. So we'll wait to see if we go there.
This is quite a spectacle to watch.
Let me go straight to our CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who literally wrote the book on Simpson's legal history.
Jeffery Toobin, you have been listening to this whole thing, hanging on every word. What's your biggest impression?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Brooke, after all these years, I thought I had lost the ability to be appalled, to be nauseated, to be outraged by the behavior of O.J. Simpson. But I thought his statements were self-justifying, self-pitying, showing no remorse, no understanding, no sense of reality about his own life. He claimed that he had led a conflict-free life.
[14:20:01] Put aside the murders, which I think he committed, but he was acquitted of. How about the fact that he repeatedly beat the hell out of Nicole Brown-Simpson and she called 911 all the time on him and he is a convicted and confessed domestic abuser. No acknowledgment of that. I don't know who these - these parole people were who seemed catatonic and not even listening to anyone - what they said. The guy with the Kansas City Chiefs tie, very impressive for a former NFL guy being, you know - who is the defendant.
I mean, look, he's probably going to get parole.
TOOBIN: Under the law, as I understand it, he's probably entitled to parole. But what an absolute disgrace this was.
BALDWIN: Wow. Wow. Jeffrey Toobin, don't go far. I'm going to come back to you.
But let me just also check in with Mark Geragos.
Mark Geragos, you heard what Toobin said. Where are you on this?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, look, the - if he's the client - and I've been in this situation before where you can prep your client and repeatedly tell them, you've got to show remorse, we're not re-litigating this. And, unfortunately, this is what clients do. I mean they - they go off the reservation, so to speak, and they want to re-litigate it.
That having been said, clearly he was his own worst enemy here. But my reaction to all this is after listening to Bruce testify is, how did he lose this case in the first place? It's - you know, it's a prosecution by proxy, if you will. I don't - I don't necessarily agree with Jeff's assessment that he probably will get parole. I think it's a slam dunk that he gets parole. I mean nine years for this case. This is a case that I think the prosecution offered two and a half years and he countered with one year, and on its best day this case is a one-year case anywhere else.
So, I don't - I mean he obviously got - there's a karmic factor here, but it does not surprise me because this is - in cases where you have defendants who are there doing parole hearings, this is exactly what you see time and time again. They want to re-litigate the case as opposed to accepting remorse and embracing it, so to speak, and moving on. But from the parole officers or the parole people's, the commission's standpoint, based on the low risk assessment, this is pretty much a no brainer.
BALDWIN: Yes. So you say slam dunk. So they're deliberating.
But, Jeffery Toobin, back over to you. And I jotted down precisely your point when he said, I've lived a conflict-free life, he said, I'm a pretty straight shooter and there - he talked on and on about these victim empathy classes. I mean I think the whole nation remembers where they were, right, when this whole thing came down in '95 and the famous acquittal. Is that what you were thinking the whole time as you were watching O.J. Simpson's face?
TOOBIN: Well, look, I mean, you know, he - he was acquitted, and he doesn't have to acknowledge his guilt, which i think was completely obvious and the subsequent events have only reinforced my belief that he killed Nicole Blown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman. But, you know, he was acquitted, so he didn't have to acknowledge that.
But he was convicted and pleaded guilty to beating his wife. And to say that you had led this placid, wonderful life and you had just done nothing wrong ever under any circumstances without acknowledging that, I mean it just shows - I mean it also makes a broader point that so many people in our society don't think domestic violence is like a real crime. You know, it's like it's a personal thing. It's not - and it is a crime and everybody needs to know that. And it's not just a crime against the victim.
TOOBIN: Domestic violence is a crime against the whole society. And seeing that sort of self-justifying behavior on the part of O.J. Simpson just reinforces the belief that, you know, he is a deeply delusional and self-obsessed narcissist. And, you know, good luck to America once he's out.
BALDWIN: Wow. Jeffrey Toobin holding back, not so much. This is why we love talking to you and you wrote the book on the whole thing.
Mark Geragos, back over to you. Just in listening to O.J. Simpson talk and try to - try to defend himself, what did you make of, you know, his defense of what he says happened in that Las Vegas hotel room?
GERAGOS: Well, I think that you're here today - remember, there was a previous parole hearing and the lesser counts - he was convicted of a number of counts. The lesser counts, he's already been paroled on or has been given parole. Since the charges ran concurrently, meaning at the same time, this is the more serious crime, and it's a conspiracy. Just because you were the one who didn't pull the gun is - does not absolve you of a conspiracy. And that's, you know, a fortunately or unfortunately does not come through when you're listening to this.
[14:25:06] I think, however, that most people, especially the commissioners there, probably feel the same way or look at this the same way I do, which is, look, he's done nine years. Nine years for this crime is wholly out of whack for what anybody else would get. He's gotten, you know, a multiple - he's gotten a multiple of what anybody else would get.
I will, to Jeff's point, besides the domestic violence case, he also - people forget, the lawyer who tried this case previously got him acquitted in a road rage case in Florida. So he actually had been tried twice, two acquittals, before this case. All of that was kind of re-litigated during the habeas petition and the habeas hearing.
GERAGOS: But the fact remains that they're given a task. The - and they're given that - and they kind of started off with that saying, look, we validated, we're validating right now, the low risk assessment. We validated this as a predictor for whether or not he's going to be violent when he gets out. And he comes off at one of the lowest risk factors. Not the least of which is because of his age. I mean one of the things about crime is, is that generally people age out of the recidivism band and so I think based on that, that's what makes it likely, in fact I think more than likely, that he's going to get a parole date of August 1st and then some time after that, you heard from the interstate compact person, he'll probably be transferred to Florida. BALDWIN: Yes, 70 years of age.
Gentlemen, stand by. We've got - we're sort of toggling between the live pictures, Lovelock Correctional Facility, where you just saw O.J. Simpson testifying, defending himself for this crime back in this Las Vegas hotel room. And then we're also watching for this ultimate decision by the parole board about 130 miles away in Carson City, Nevada.
So, Jean Casarez, let me bring you in, just on the process. Explain to us what's happening right now with these four commissioners in Carson City deciding his fate.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're deliberating right behind me in that building. They are deliberating right now.
But I do want to say, I was in the courtroom for that 2008 trial in Las Vegas. I heard every single bit of the evidence. And what we heard today was the testimony of O.J. Simpson that never happened in 2008 because he didn't take the stand. What we did not hear was cross- examination.
Let me tell you a little bit about that evidence. There were planning meetings. They were recorded by Thomas Riccio. The jury heard them. In regard to the guns, we heard the audio tape in the courtroom. It wasn't talking about security. It was talking about, you've got guns, bring them. Don't forget your heat, O.J. said to two of them.
When it got into the hotel room, there was explicit testimony about who was standing where. And it was shown through the testimony of the people in that room that O.J. Simpson could and did see that gun pointed in Bruce Fromong's face and that O.J. Simpson was the one in control of the room, telling people to bag the items. They got pillow cases and starting to bag those property items. And the jury convicted O.J. Simpson of kidnapping and robbery and conspiracy to commit those with a deadly weapon.
So, you heard one side of the story. And the demeanor of O.J. Simpson today was very interesting because the first question out of the box by one of the commissioners, which really produced him testifying as to what happened in 2008, his side, I think he was shocked by that. His reaction was not calm. His reaction was defensive. Immediately on the defense when there was any question that was not a softball question.
And when you look at the facts, he said in 2013 he was going to take "commitment to change." That class, he has not taken it in the last four years. He said that he was going to take "alcoholics anonymous" because they now told him today, and he didn't like that answer, that he had a substance abuse issue. He hasn't taken that class either.
So that's some of the things they're going to look at in that deliberation room. But he had everyone on his side that testified today. He's had no issues in prison at all for the last eight and a half, almost nine years. And so we should, at any minute, get that decision. BALDWIN: We'll stand by for that. Jean, thank you so much.
Again, these four commissioners in Carson City sitting around in this room right behind where she was standing. If they cannot reach that, you know, all four of them saying yes, they will actually have two commissioners who are on standby in Las Vegas call in and they will hopefully, for O.J. Simpson's case, you know, produce those four votes necessary to grant him parole.
[14:30:02] So we're waiting for that. Again, that could happen any moment now.
Meantime, Areva Martin, CNN legal analyst, here.
We heard two different, you know, testimonies.