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O.J. Simpson says he regrets going after memorabilia

CARSON CITY, Nev. — O.J. Simpson pleaded for leniency Thursday, telling a parole panel he deeply regretted the night he robbed two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. ‘‘I just wish I never went to that room,’’ he said. ‘‘I wish I just said ‘Keep it.’ ”

Simpson, 66, said he’s been a model inmate at Lovelock Correction Center 90 miles east of Reno, where he has been since 2008, when he was sentenced to up to 33 years. He said he was determined to ‘‘do my time as best that I can do.’’

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Simpson was sentenced to consecutive terms on several charges. But some of his sentences were ordered to run concurrently — two counts each of kidnapping and robbery and one count of burglary. Even if the Nevada Parole Board ruled in his favor, he would then begin serving sentences attached to other charges.

‘‘It doesn’t open the cell door,’’ H. Leon Simon, the prosecutor handling Simpson’s appeal, said Wednesday. ‘‘He’d just start serving the consecutive sentences.’’

The former NFL star and actor appeared before Parole Commissioner Susan Jackson and hearing representative Robin Bates. They will make a recommendation to the full parole board. A final decision on parole is expected next week.

The hearing lasted 15 minutes. Simpson, wearing denim prison clothes, was the only person to speak on his behalf.

Simpson said in his time
behind bars he has missed his children and could not attend his sister’s funeral. He also has counseled other inmates, many of whom were also serving time for burglary or robbery, he said.

Simpson’s best chance for freedom lies with a pending decision by a Las Vegas judge on whether to grant him a new trial based on claims that his trial lawyer botched his defense and had a conflict of interest.

Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell held a weeklong hearing in May on the issue that featured testimony from Simpson.

His current lawyers, Patricia Palm and Ozzie Fumo, presented evidence and questioned witnesses, including trial
lawyer Yale Galanter, about whether he knew in advance about the September 2007 plan for Simpson and other men
to confront the memorabilia dealers.

Simpson argues that he was trying to retrieve items stolen from him after his 1995 ‘‘trial of the century’’ in Los Angeles when he was acquitted of murder in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend.

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