AP Exclusive: OJ Simpson says 'Life is fine' after prison

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 1995, file photo, Judge Lance Ito gives instructions to the jury before all parties in the O.J. Simpson double murder trial depart on a tour of four prominent Brentwood sites in Los Angeles. Ito, who retired in 2015, presided over approximately 500 trials after the one that made him such a household name that "The Tonight Show" briefly featured a comedy segment called "The Dancing Itos," in which Ito lookalikes in judicial robes performed. After the Simpson trial he had to remove his name plate from his courtroom door because people kept stealing it. Ito has never discussed the trial, citing judicial ethics. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, Pool, File)
Kim Goldman poses for a portrait Friday, June 7, 2019, in Los Angeles. Goldman has continued to make the case publicly that it was O.J. Simpson who killed her brother and Simpson's ex-wife on a June night in 1994. Beginning Wednesday, Goldman will examine the case in a 10-episode podcast, "Confronting: OJ Simpson." She'll interview her brother's old friends, the police detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who voted to acquit Simpson. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
FILE - in this April 26, 2017, file photo, Robert Shapiro arrives at Wolfgang Puck's Post-Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony Celebration at Spago in Beverly Hills, Calif. Shapiro, the first member of Simpson's defense team, continues to practice law. In 2005 he founded the Brent Shapiro Foundation to help steer young people from drug and alcohol addiction after his 24-year-old son died of an overdose. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - In this June 17, 1994, file photo, a white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings carrying O.J. Simpson, is trailed by Los Angeles police cars as it travels on a freeway in Los Angeles. Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her LA home. Simpson is later arrested after a widely televised freeway chase in the vehicle. (AP Photo/Joseph Villarin, File)
Kim Goldman poses for a portrait Friday, June 7, 2019, in Los Angeles. Goldman has continued to make the case publicly that it was O.J. Simpson who killed her brother and Simpson's ex-wife on a June night in 1994. Beginning Wednesday, Goldman will examine the case in a 10-episode podcast, "Confronting: OJ Simpson." She'll interview her brother's old friends, the police detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who voted to acquit Simpson. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Kim Goldman poses for a portrait Friday, June 7, 2019, in Los Angeles. Goldman has continued to make the case publicly that it was O.J. Simpson who killed her brother and Simpson's ex-wife on a June night in 1994. Beginning Wednesday, Goldman will examine the case in a 10-episode podcast, "Confronting: OJ Simpson." She'll interview her brother's old friends, the police detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who voted to acquit Simpson. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
FILE - In this July 20, 2017, file photo, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson reacts after learning he was granted parole at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev. Simpson got into a series of minor legal scrapes following his 1995 acquittal of murder charges in the deaths of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2008, file photo, Fred Goldman, father of Ron Goldman, who was murdered in 1994, speaks to reporters after O.J. Simpson's sentencing hearing outside the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. Fred Goldman has relentlessly pursued O.J. Simpson through civil courts, maintaining it is the only way to achieve justice for his son. Goldman's family has seized some of Simpson's memorabilia, including his 1968 Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player that year. (Isaac Brekken/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this July 20, 2017, file photo, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson reacts after learning he was granted parole at Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev. Simpson got into a series of minor legal scrapes following his 1995 acquittal of murder charges in the deaths of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - In this April 11, 2007, file photo, Denise Brown, sister of murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson, is interviewed by NBC "Today" show co-host Matt Lauer in New York. Denise Brown has remained the family’s most outspoken critic of Simpson, although like the Goldman family she refuses to speak his name. The former model has become a victims’ rights advocate and a speaker, urging both women and men to leave abusive relationships. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Kim Goldman poses for a portrait Friday, June 7, 2019, in Los Angeles. Goldman has continued to make the case publicly that it was O.J. Simpson who killed her brother and Simpson's ex-wife on a June night in 1994. Beginning Wednesday, Goldman will examine the case in a 10-episode podcast, "Confronting: OJ Simpson." She'll interview her brother's old friends, the police detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who voted to acquit Simpson. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
FILE - In this April 4, 2019, file photo, defense attorney Christopher Darden stands with Eric Holder, the suspect in the killing of rapper Nipsey Hussle, in a Los Angeles arraignment court. Darden, the co-prosecutor, was criticized for having Simpson try on the bloody gloves without first ensuring they would fit. He is now a defense attorney himself. He recently represented the man charged with killing hip-hop mogul Nipsey Hussle before withdrawing from the case, saying his family had received death threats. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, Pool, File)
This photo provided by Didier J. Fabien shows O.J. Simpson in the garden of his Las Vegas area home on Monday, June 3, 2019. After 25 years living under the shadow of one of the nation’s most notorious murder cases, Simpson says his life now is fine. (Didier J. Fabien via AP)
FILE - In this Oct. 3, 1995, file photo, O.J. Simpson reacts as he is found not guilty in the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles. Defense attorneys F. Lee Bailey, left, and Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. stand with him. Cochran, Simpson's flamboyant lead attorney, died of brain cancer in 2005 at 68. His refrain to jurors that "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" sought to underscore that the bloody gloves found at Simpson’s home and the crime scene were too small for football legend when he tried them on in court. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)
Kim Goldman poses for a portrait Friday, June 7, 2019, in Los Angeles. Goldman has continued to make the case publicly that it was O.J. Simpson who killed her brother and Simpson's ex-wife on a June night in 1994. Beginning Wednesday, Goldman will examine the case in a 10-episode podcast, "Confronting: OJ Simpson." She'll interview her brother's old friends, the police detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who voted to acquit Simpson. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2016, file photo, Darryl Howard wipes away tears as he and his lawyer, Barry Scheck, co-director of the based Innocence Project, listen as Judge Orlando Hudson threw out Howard's double-murder conviction after reviewing new DNA evidence, in Durham, N.C. Scheck was the lawyer who introduced DNA science to jurors as he attacked police methods of evidence collection to undermine the prosecution's forensic evidence case. He and fellow O.J. Simpson lawyer Peter Neufeld co-founded The Innocence Project that uses DNA evidence to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners. The project has helped overturn hundreds of convictions. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP, File)
FILE - In this June 16, 1994, file photo, O.J. Simpson, center, daughter Sydney and son Justin arrive at a private funeral for his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her LA home. Investigators quickly focused their attention on the former football great, leading to the slow-speed chase that was carried live on national television and, later, the “Trial of the Century,” which ended in Simpson’s acquittal. (AP Photo/Eric Draper, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2019, file photo, former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark participates in the "The Fix" panel during the ABC presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. Clark, the trial’s lead prosecutor, quit law after the case, although she has appeared frequently as a TV commentator on high-profile trials over the years and on numerous TV news shows. She was paid $4 million for her Simpson trial memoir, “Without a Doubt,” and has gone on to write a series of crime novels. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
This Thursday, June 6, 2019, photo shows O.J. Simpson in his Las Vegas area home. After 25 years living under the shadow of one of the nation’s most notorious murder cases, Simpson says his life now is fine. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 1995, file photo, prosecutor Marcia Clark demonstrates to the jury how the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were committed during her closing arguments in the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial in Los Angeles. Clark, the trial’s lead prosecutor, quit law after the case, although she has appeared frequently as a TV commentator on high-profile trials over the years and on numerous TV news shows. She was paid $4 million for her Simpson trial memoir, “Without a Doubt,” and has gone on to write a series of crime novels. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - In this March 21, 1995, file photo, Brian "Kato" Kaelin testifies under direct examination during the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial in Los Angeles. Kaelin, a struggling actor living in a guest house on Simpson's property, testified he heard a bump during the night of the murders and went outside to find Simpson in the yard, something prosecutors say showed Simpson was sneaking back home after the killings. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - This May 20, 2014, file photo shows Fred Goldman, father of murder victim Ron Goldman, in his home in Peoria, Ariz. Fred Goldman has relentlessly pursued O.J. Simpson through civil courts, maintaining it is the only way to achieve justice for his son. Goldman's family has seized some of Simpson's memorabilia, including his 1968 Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player that year. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)
FILE - In this June 13, 1994, file photo, O.J. Simpson sits in his attorney's car after being questioned by Los Angeles police into the death of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. Investigators quickly focused their attention on the former football great, leading to the slow-speed chase that was carried live on national television and, later, the “Trial of the Century,” which ended in Simpson’s acquittal. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)
EDITORS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - In this file photo provided Friday, Oct. 25, 1996, by the Los Angeles Police Department/Los Angeles Superior Court shows the body of Nicole Brown Simpson, where she was found on the bloodstained walkway of her Bundy Drive condominium, an LAPD evidence image used in the O.J. Simpson civil trial in Superior Court in Santa Monica, Calif. (Los Angeles Police Department/Los Angeles Superior Court via AP, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2010, file photo, Brian "Kato" Kaelin poses for photographers following a ceremony awarding comedian Bill Maher with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Kaelin, a struggling actor living in a guest house on Simpson's property, testified he heard a bump during the night of the murders and went outside to find Simpson in the yard, something prosecutors say showed Simpson was sneaking back home after the killings. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

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, the 71-year-old 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 stabbed to death and Simpson was transformed from Hall of Fame football hero to murder suspect.

"We don't need to go back and relive the worst day of our lives," he 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."

Simpson lives a relatively low-key life these days. He plays golf nearly every day. 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. He said he remains close to his children and other relatives.

"Life is fine," he said.

Relatives of Simpson's ex-wife and Goldman are disgusted Simpson is able to live the way he does while their loved ones had their lives cut short so tragically.

"I don't suffocate in my grief," Goldman's sister, Kim, told the AP in an interview last week. "But every milestone that my kid hits, every milestone that I hit, you know, those are just reminders of what I'm not able to share with my brother and what he is missing out on."

She wonders if Simpson is following conditions of his parole.

"Yeah, I hear he's living the life of Riley out there in Las Vegas, being treated like a king," Goldman said sarcastically. But she added she rarely thinks of him unless someone else brings up his name.

Ron Goldman, then 25, was returning a pair of sunglasses that Nicole Brown Simpson's mother had left at a restaurant where he worked when he and Simpson's ex-wife were stabbed and slashed dozens of times.

O.J. Simpson's televised "Trial of the Century" lasted nearly a year and became a national obsession, fraught with issues of racism, police misconduct, celebrity and domestic violence.

Represented by a legal "Dream Team" that included Johnnie Cochran Jr. and F. Lee Bailey, he was acquitted by a jury in 1995 in a verdict that split the country along racial lines, with many white Americans believing he got away with murder and many black people considering him innocent.

He has continued to declare his innocence. The murder case is officially listed as unsolved.

The victims' families subsequently filed a civil suit against him, and in 1997 he was ordered to pay $33.5 million 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.

For a man who once lived for the spotlight , Simpson has generally kept a low profile since his release from prison in October 2017 after serving nine years for a robbery and kidnapping conviction in Las Vegas. He insisted his conviction and sentence for trying to steal back his own memorabilia were unfair but said: "I believe in the legal system and I honored it. I served my time."

After he got out of prison in 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.

"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. A month after his release, an outing to a steakhouse and lounge off the Las Vegas Strip ended in a dispute. Simpson was ordered off the property and barred 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.

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.

He also visited relatives in Louisiana, he said, and spoke to a group of black judges and prosecutors in New Orleans.

Simpson said the glamor of his early life is just a memory.

After his football career, Simpson became a commercial pitchman, actor and football commentator. Once a multimillionaire, he said most of his fortune was spent defending himself from the murder charges.

Simpson declined to discuss his finances other than to say he lives on pensions.

To coincide with Wednesday's anniversary, Kim Goldman will launch a 10-week podcast, "Confronting: O.J. Simpson," in which she will interview her brother's friends, the detective who investigated the killings, attorneys for the defense and prosecution, and two of the 12 jurors who acquitted Simpson.

She will continue to make the case that Simpson was guilty.

___

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.

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