Who is OJ Simpson and why is he in prison?

It is more than 20 years since OJ Simpson, once one of America’s best loved sportsmen, was found not guilty of murdering his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman.

He is currently nine years into a 33-year sentence for a string of crimes including armed robbery and kidnapping. Simpson, who turned 70 last week, could walk free later this year.

On Thursday, he will appear by videolink before a Las Vegas parole board who will decide whether he is ready to be released.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Juice

OJ Simpson and Nicole Brown Credit: Reuters

Simpson was an American football star who broke records during his prime playing as a running back for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers in the 1970s. That success meant he was in demand after retiring, becoming a familiar figure on television as well as acting in in films.

His sporting achievements saw him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

By then he had met and married his second wife, Nicole Brown. They had two children together before she filed for divorce in 1992 after he was investigated a number of times for domestic violence.

Trial of the century

Brown and her friend were found dead outside her home in 1994. They had been stabbed to death.

Simpson was questioned and later ordered to turn himself into police. However, he fled and the ensuing low-speed police chase – during which a convoy of vehicles followed Mr Simpson in a white Ford Bronco down Interstate 404 – was broadcast live on television.

It set the scene for an extraordinary court case which gripped America. Some 100 million viewers were watching when a jury finally found Simpson not guilty at the end of an eight-month trial in October 1995.

Although the prosecution had an overwhelming amount of DNA evidence, the defence was able to argue that mistakes made by investigators may have contaminated the crime scene. Simpson was also unable to fit his hand inside one glove found at the scene and another found near his home.

Civil lawsuit

Brown’s family never accepted the verdict and brought a case against Simpson for wrongful death.

After four months, a jury awarded the victims’ families $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages, holding Simpson responsible for their deaths.

Las Vegas robbery

Simpson’s final downfall came in 2008, 13 years to the day after he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife.

The star was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for assembling a…

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