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Why Did O.J. Simpson Go To Prison?

The Murders and Trial

On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were found brutally murdered outside Nicole’s home in Los Angeles. Nicole’s ex-husband, football star O.J. Simpson, was arrested and charged with the murders. What followed was one of the most famous criminal trials in history.

The prosecution argued that Simpson had a history of domestic violence towards Nicole and killed her in a jealous rage. Their key evidence included blood from the victims found at the crime scene and in Simpson’s car and home, and a glove found at the scene that matched one found on Simpson’s property.

However, Simpson assembled a “dream team” of lawyers who were able to raise doubts about the validity of the prosecution’s evidence. After a trial that lasted nearly a year, Simpson was acquitted of the murders in October 1995.

Civil Trial and Liability Judgement

Although Simpson was acquitted of criminal charges, the families of the victims filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against him. The standard of proof is lower in civil trials than in criminal ones, and in February 1997 a civil jury found Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.

This judgement proved that while the criminal case had reasonable doubt, the preponderance of evidence in the civil case established Simpson’s role in the murders. However, Simpson moved to Florida where laws protected his NFL pension and home equity from being taken to pay the judgement.

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Las Vegas Robbery and Kidnapping

In 2007, Simpson organized an armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas, Nevada. He had learned that a sports memorabilia dealer named Bruce Fromong was selling various items from Simpson’s football career that Simpson claimed had been stolen from him.

On September 13, 2007, Simpson and five accomplices confronted Fromong and others in a Las Vegas hotel room. Two of the men with Simpson had guns. The group took back several items Simpson claimed were his, and kidnapped two memorabilia dealers who were later released.

Conviction and Sentencing

Simpson and his accomplices were charged with multiple felonies including robbery, assault, and kidnapping with a deadly weapon. After a trial in 2008, Simpson was convicted on all charges and sentenced to 33 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 9 years.

Many legal experts believe the severity of the sentence was influenced by Simpson’s previous acquittal in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The Las Vegas jury was not allowed to hear specifics about the previous charges, but the judge and attorneys were aware of the implication.

So in summary, while the 1995 criminal trial did not convict Simpson, the civil case established liability, and the Las Vegas conviction in 2008 finally sent him to prison. Simpson was granted parole in 2017 after serving 9 years and is now living in Nevada.

Why the Prison Sentence Was Justified

Simpson’s 33 year sentence for the Las Vegas robbery and kidnapping has been criticized by some as disproportionate or influenced by his prior history. However, there are several reasons why the sentence can be seen as justified:

  • Simpson planned and organized a violent armed robbery involving kidnapping and assault. This was much more severe than simply shoplifting memorabilia as his lawyers claimed.
  • He had a history of violence, including his previous domestic abuse towards his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson prior to her murder.
  • The sentence guidelines for these types of felony charges in Nevada recommending up to 30 years in these circumstances.
  • Simpson showed no remorse and claimed he did nothing wrong despite overwhelming evidence. Lack of accountability is commonly considered grounds for a harsher sentence.
  • The jury and judge were not allowed to consider his previous murder trial, but were aware of its implications. However, their sentencing was focused on the robbery alone.
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While Simpson feels he was harshly treated by the justice system, the sentence can be justified based on the violent pre-meditated nature of his crimes in Las Vegas and his lack of remorse. The sentence fit the severity of his new convictions.

What evidence was used to convict Simpson in the civil trial?

The key evidence in the 1997 civil trial included blood from the victims found at the crime scene and in Simpson’s car and home, and a glove found at the scene that matched one on Simpson’s property. DNA tests showed this blood matched Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The jury found the preponderance of evidence proved Simpson’s liability.

Why did the criminal jury find Simpson not guilty?

The criminal trial jury in 1995 found Simpson not guilty for several reasons. The defense team managed to raise reasonable doubts about the handling of the blood evidence by the LAPD crime lab and suggested it may have been contaminated. There were also no eye witnesses to the murders. Since a criminal conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury acquitted.

What items did Simpson steal in Las Vegas?

The items Simpson arranged to have stolen by armed robbery in 2007 included game footballs, plaques, and personal family photos. Simpson claimed these items had been stolen from his own home years earlier and he was reclaiming them. However, the memorabilia dealers claimed they had legally purchased them from third parties.

Why did Simpson bring armed men for a memorabilia robbery?

By bringing 5 accomplices, 2 of whom had guns, Simpson clearly planned to use force and threat of violence to take the memorabilia. He likely thought this show of force would intimidate the sellers into cooperating. Using weapons also elevated the severity to armed robbery, kidnapping with a deadly weapon, and assault.

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Did Simpson show any remorse at his sentencing?

No, Simpson continued to adamantly claim he had done nothing wrong and that he was simply reclaiming property that had been stolen from him. He showed no accountability or remorse for his role as the organizer of the armed robbery, kidnapping, and assault. His lack of remorse was likely a factor in the harsh sentence.


In summary, while the 1995 murder trial did not convict Simpson, the 1997 civil judgement established liability for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. However, Simpson avoided paying damages through legal maneuvers. Finally in 2008, Simpson was convicted of organized armed robbery and sentenced to 33 years in prison, with parole possible after 9 years served.

Despite his claims that he was retrieving stolen property, the violent nature of Simpson’s actions in Las Vegas justified a harsh prison sentence. The jury and judge were also certainly aware of Simpson’s history of violence toward Nicole Brown Simpson, even if they could not use it directly. After decades of avoiding consequences, O.J. Simpson finally received a just punishment for his crimes.

Prison Inside Team

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We are dedicated to exploring the intricacies of prison life and justice reform through firsthand experiences and expert insights.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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