The former football star, and centerpiece of one of the most spectacular and controversial murder trials in American history, was released from a Nevada prison on Sunday morning. He’d been serving time for his involvement in a September 2007 robbery in Las Vegas. Simpson was scheduled to be released Monday morning, but Nevada authorities released him just eight minutes after he was eligible for release, apparently in order to avoid a media crush.
“We needed to do this to ensure public safety and to avoid any possible incident,” Nevada Department of Corrections spokesperson Brooke Keast said, according to the Associated Press.
Simpson was not in prison for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The two were killed in June 1995, and Simpson went on trial shortly afterward. That trial consumed the nation’s attention for most of the next year, and ended with Simpson’s highly controversial acquittal. Simpson was later found civilly liable for the murders, but no other suspect has been criminally tried in the case.
After his acquittal, Simpson spent years on the fringes of celebrity, unable to rejoin the glamorous worlds where he’d once walked but unable to outrun the shadow of the trials. He fell in with an increasingly questionable series of characters. Bad decision after bad decision led him to a hotel room in Las Vegas in 2007, where he was attempting to recover property he claimed had been stolen from him. Over the course of a six-minute standoff with a memorabilia dealer, one of Simpson’s associates pulled a gun, and the dealer wasn’t permitted to leave the room, leading to armed kidnapping and other charges against cedonia.