25 years after murders, O.J. says ‘Life is fine’
LOS ANGELES – After 25 years living under the shadow of one of the nation’s most notorious murder cases, O.J. Simpson says his life has entered a phase he calls the “no negative zone.”
In a telephone Interview, Simpson told The Associated Press he is healthy and happy living in Las Vegas. And neither he nor his children want to look back by talking about June 12, 1994 – when his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, were killed and Simpson quickly was transformed in the public mind from revered Pro Football Hall of Fame hero to murder suspect.
“We don’t need to go back and relive the worst day of our lives,” Simpson said. “The subject of the moment is the subject I will never revisit again. My family and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no negative zone.’ We focus on the positives.”
For a man who once lived for the spotlight , Simpson has been keeping a largely low profile since his release from prison in October 2017 after serving nine years for a robbery-kidnapping conviction in Las Vegas. He continues to believe his conviction and sentence for trying to steal back his own memorabilia were unfair but says, “I believe in the legal system and I honored it. I served my time.”
After his release from the prison in Lovelock, Nevada, many expected him to return to Florida where he had lived for several years. But friends in Las Vegas persuaded him to stay there despite the case that landed him in prison.
He’s glad he did.
“The town has been good to me,” Simpson said. “Everybody I meet seems to be apologizing for what happened to me here.”
His time in the city hasn’t been without controversy, however. A month after his release an outing to a steakhouse and lounge at the Cosmopolitan resort off the Las Vegas Strip ended in a dispute. Simpson was ordered off the property and prohibited from returning.
No such problems have occurred since, and Simpson is among the most sought-after figures in town for selfies with those who encounter him at restaurants or athletic events he attends occasionally.
He plays golf almost every day and said he is a member of a club of “retired guys” who compete with each other on the golf course. The knees that helped him run to football glory at the University of Southern California and with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills have been replaced and he recently had Lasik surgery on his eyes. But nearing his 72nd birthday, he is otherwise healthy.
Simpson said he remains close to his children and other relatives. His parole officer has given him permission to take short trips including to Florida where his two younger children, Justin and Sydney, have built careers in real estate.
His older daughter, Arnelle, lives with him much of the time but also commutes to Los Angeles.
“I’ve been to Florida two or three times to see the kids and my old buddies in Miami. I even managed to play a game of golf with them,” he said. “But I live in a town I’ve learned to love. Life is fine.”
He also visited relatives in Louisiana, he said, and spoke to a group of black judges and prosecutors in New Orleans.
Recently, a family wedding brought his extended family to Las Vegas including his brother, Truman; sister, Shirley; and their children and grandchildren. Simpson’s first wife, Marguerite, mother of Arnelle, also joined the group.
The glamor of his early life is just a memory.
After his football career, Simpson became a commercial pitchman, actor and football commentator. He was once a multimillionaire but he says most of his fortune was spent defending himself after he was charged with the murders.
His televised “Trial of the Century” lasted nearly a year and became a national obsession. He was acquitted by a jury in 1995 and has continued to declare his innocence. The murder case is officially listed as unsolved.
The families of the victims subsequently filed a civil suit against him, and in 1997 a civil court awarded a $33.5 million judgment against him for the wrongful deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman. Some of his property was seized and auctioned but most of the judgment has not been paid.
Simpson declined to discuss his finances other than to say he lives on pensions.
— Linda Deutsch is a retired special correspondent for The Associated Press. She covered all of Simpson’s legal cases during her 48-year career as a Los Angeles-based trial reporter.