The End of the Road for O.J. Simpson
A behind the scenes look at the O.J. saga
-Lydia R. Proenza
Lydia Proenza is an international print and television journalist and author who has covered the O.J. story for years. Here is her update on O.J.s latest chapter.
Did O.J. get finally get what was coming to him, in of all places, Sin City? As a journalist covering the Simpson saga since June 1994, I’m not surprised by the sentence this time. The jurors in Las Vegas can protest all they want that they convicted him solely on the Palace Station Hotel robbery last September 13, 2007. But was there another jury that was going to let O.J. off the hook ever again?
Why? Because after all these years on the story, I know that most people believe “he did it” and are happy to see him behind bars once and for all! After his acquittal in 1995, O.J. sank deeper and deeper into sleazy and stupid behavior. He really was an accident waiting to happen.
But who would have thought that O.J. would have ended up finally going away for nine to 16 years just because of his arrogance, ignorance and stupidity? Did he really think that he could get away with storming a hotel room with a bunch of gun-totting pals and nobody would do anything about it? Did he really truly believe that he was doing nothing wrong because it was his own stuff he was taking?
Of course O.J. has nobody but himself to blame for his “troubles.” That’s the word O.J. used the last time I spoke to him, referring to the time he was on trial for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
I had been hired by a national media outlet. When I arrived at his house in Florida in mid-afternoon, O.J. was sitting in his den resting after his daily golf game, and watching a Court TV show with Nancy Grace. He pointed to the screen and said, “They all have careers because of my ‘troubles.'”
I have to admit my own career has been affected by the O.J. story as well. It led to long-term assignments with NBC Nightly News, ABC News and with CBS News more recently. And like the groupies and hangers on that gravitate around the Juice, it’s the same for some of us journalists – the phone rings and someone hires us to follow O.J and his story once again.
So when my friend Bruce Fromong called me in the wee hours of September 14, 2007 and said, “I’ve been robbed at gun point by O.J. and a bunch of thugs in a Vegas hotel room,” I didn’t know if I should just make a cup of coffee and turn on the TV, or start packing a bag for my next assignment. But less than 48 hours later, there I was, dashing (like O.J. in the Hertz commercial) through Miami International Airport – laptop case and carry-on in tow, to catch a plane for Los Angeles and then Las Vegas.
My assignment – babysitting Bruce Fromong at a Beverly Hills hotel to make sure none of the competing TV shows “stole” him and scooped the opening segment of CBS News’ The Early Show the Monday after the robbery. Another young female producer and I spent that night sitting in the hotel lobby. After 2 a.m., hotel security came by assuming we were ladies of the night. We delivered our guest to the show at 5:30 a.m., brought him back to the hotel and we went off to chase the next “get.”
But back to this O.J. trial. It was clear to me that as a contrite and visibly broken O.J. tearfully apologized to Judge Jackie Glass during the sentencing hearing, he finally knows he’s hit the end of a very long and very winding road – at least for the next nine years.